Microsoft clarifies roles for IE and Project Spartan in Windows 10

Microsoft clarifies roles for IE and Project Spartan in Windows 10

The headlines claiming the death kneel of Internet Explorer as a brand ran rampant about a week ago when the head of Microsoft Marketing, Chris Capossela, gave a presentation at Convergence 2015 in Atlanta, GA.

In that presentation he told the crowd that Microsoft was looking for a new brand name for what is currently known as Project Spartan, their next generation browser, and confirmed that it would not be known as IE moving forward.

That is what began the obits for IE around the various tech press sites.

As I wrote last week, around all of this death of IE talk, both browsers will be present in Windows 10 as Microsoft confirmed in the Q&A session held after their Windows 10 Consumer event back in January. These facts were also covered when Rod Trent wrote about it here on the SuperSite shortly after that.

Over the course of the last week since Capossela’s comments at Convergence there has been a slow adjustment in the discussion around the supposed end of IE. Yesterday the IE team posted a big update on the IEBlog after they held a Project Spartan developer workshop with some of their top website partners, enterprise developers and web framework authors.

The meat and potatoes of this presentation, on what Microsoft is labeling a simpler browser strategy in Windows 10, is that Project Spartan will only contain the new browsing engine while IE11 will remain much as it is right now in Windows 8.1 and will host the legacy browsing engine.

Project Spartan vs Internet Explorer in Windows 10

The IE team provided a few different reasons for these changes:

  • Project Spartan was built for the next generation of the Web, taking the unique opportunity provided by Windows 10 to build a browser with a modern architecture and service model for Windows as a Service. This clean separation of legacy and new will enable us to deliver on that promise. Our testing with Project Spartan has shown that it is on track to be highly compatible with the modern Web, which means the legacy engine isn’t needed for compatibility.
  • For Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 10 to be an effective solution for legacy scenarios and enterprise customers, it needs to behave consistently with Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Hosting our new engine in Internet Explorer 11 has compatibility implications that impact this promise and would have made the browser behave differently on Windows 10.
  • Feedback from Insiders and developers indicated that it wasn’t clear what the difference was between Project Spartan and Internet Explorer 11 from a web capabilities perspective, or what a developer would need to do to deliver web sites for one versus the other.

By the way, the use of the term modern in that first bullet does not mean Modern as we know it in Windows 8.1 with IE11.

The decision to keep IE11 unchanged from what we see in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 is all about compatibility for Enterprise customers and providing them a level of comfort in choosing to upgrade to Windows 10.

That in the long run is Microsoft’s goal – get as many customers as possible on Windows 10 – because it means fewer support requirements for the older operating systems, browsers and services.

Microsoft plans to host more of these Project Spartan Developer Workshops including sessions at BUILD 2015 and Microsoft Ignite. In addition, the Project Spartan team will have a Web Platform Summit which will be open to the public on 5 & 6 May 2015 at their Silicon Valley Campus.

Details about registering for that event will be posted on the IE Blog when they become available.

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