The browser, codenamed ‘Spartan’, will augment, rather than replace, Internet Explorer, and will contain significant enhancements that bring it into line, and in some cases exceed, its rivals which continue to gain market share.
As expected, Cortana will be integrated to bring a Google Now-style experience to the browser, and searches for what Microsoft hopes will be useful information will take place without you having to search at all.
A report on The Verge said that all functions currently taken up by Bing in Internet Explorer will become Cortana-based in the Spartan version.
Microsoft has already announced that Cortana will be a significant part of Windows 10, although it doesn’t appear in current preview builds.
Tab grouping will reduce the clutter of tabs on the browser page, for example keeping ‘always open’ tabs separate from ‘current shopping’ and ‘read later’.
The report also talks about abandoned plans for custom themes, a mainstay of Firefox and Google Chrome, which may come back to the table at a later date.
It’s clear that Spartan is something totally new that will live alongside IE10 so that you can roll back if needed to browse ‘heritage sites’ that don’t play nicely.
And that name? We’ll probably know more about whether it’s an internal codename or a new brand at the consumer event for Windows 10 on 21 January. But are we the only ones to notice another nice little nod to the Halo series there?
Mind you, it’s also the name of a type of apple, which could lead to all kinds of problems when Tim Cook finds out.