MICROSOFT HAS confirmed that Project Spartan, the ambiguously named replacement for Internet Explorer, will be included in the next build of the accelerating Windows 10 Preview programme.
The new browser was first demonstrated at the consumer launch of Windows 10 in January, when there was as much Twitter chatter about president of product Joe Belfiore's hair as there was about the browser itself.
Members of the Windows Insider community will be able to gasp in awe at the browser "built for the modern web" (it sez 'ere), and the news of its arrival has produced the most complete details of what we can expect so far, although Joe 'The Barnet' Belfiore warned that the features are "still in an early, incomplete state".
Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant, currently best known for making members of chamber-house minstrels Clean Bandit laugh with laboured jokes, is already aboard.
Here, it's less about Cortana's personality and more about her ability to pre-empt you in terms of knowing the pages you like and the contexts in which you like to view them.
This could mean, for example, that going to the BBC Weather page on the day before you go on holiday (which Cortana knows) would prompt her to take you to the weather for your destination.
Cortana can also preload related pages to provide context to searches. It's all done in Bing, but you can't have everything. Cortana will initially roll out in the US, with other countries to follow.
'Inking' is the name given to the option to annotate web pages viewed in Spartan, such as adding notes to the margin or drawing phallic symbols on David Cameron. These can then be sent as a 'web note' by email or social network, or saved to OneNote.
Reading List and Reading View allow you to collect everything you want to read in a 'save for later' capacity, and view them with no menus, address bars or other distractions.
Perhaps most notable of all, however, is that the whole thing runs on a brand new rendering engine designed so that it "just works".
Microsoft caught everyone off guard last week by announcing that the firm will respond to user feedback and keep the new rendering engine for Spartan and the old one for Internet Explorer 11, which is being retained for maximum backwards compatibility.
Belfiore added a second disclaimer: "It’s important to note that we’ll have more features and many improvements coming to Project Spartan before we make it broadly available.
"This preview is NOT a polished, ready-for-everyone release. For Windows Insiders, we’re excited to make Project Spartan available for your feedback only a short time after we made it available for use internally at Microsoft."
However, despite this, we're sure that everyone will see the fringe benefits. Sorry. Couldn't resist. µ
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