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Microsoft could be working on an entirely new web browser

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There was a time when Internet Explorer was the undisputed king of web browsers, with its market share exceeding 80% for much of the last decade. However, Microsoft’s failure to match the speed and customizability of competing web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have reduced Internet Explorer to little more than a badge that allows the supercilious perusers of the internet to easily identify the technologically illiterate.

To be fair, Microsoft’s beleaguered web browser still maintains about a 20% market share, but considering how more than 90% of all personal computers on the planet are running Windows, and Internet Explorer is included in every single copy of Windows, 20% is unimpressive.

Thanks to an admirable amount of effort from its development team to improve the web browser, Internet Explorer has actually come a long way in the last few years. While it’s still not on the same level as Firefox or Chrome, it’s definitely improved to the point where it’s not deserving of the internet’s seemingly endless derision. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer’s terrible reputation seems to be sticking to it like glue and, as such, it continues to lose ground to its competitors.

As the launch of Windows 10 grow closer, however, rumors of a concentrated effort on Microsoft’s part to reclaim Internet Explorer’s throne have been growing more numerous. A project by the name of “Spartan” has been the center of many of these rumors, with several tech reporters and analysts speculating that it could be a massive overhaul of Internet Explorer that’ll launch alongside Windows 10. However, if a recent report from ZDNet is to be believed, Spartan isn’t the next iteration of Internet Explorer, it’s actually an entirely new web browser from Microsoft.

The report claims that this new web browser will be much more lightweight than Internet Explorer, which it’ll launching alongside rather than replacing, and will closely resemble Firefox and Chrome in terms of appearance and functionality. While it’s expected to be available on all Windows devices, it’s unclear if it’ll be coming to Android, iOS, OS X, or Linux.

“Microsoft may show off Spartan on January 21 when the company reveals its next set of Windows 10 features,” said Mary Jo Foley in the ZDNet report. “But my sources also aren’t sure if Spartan will be functional enough for inclusion in the Windows 10 January Technical Preview and mobile preview builds that are expected to be available to testers in early 2015. It may not show up in the test builds until some point later, they say.”

This move certainly follows the pattern of refocus and redesign that seems to be the central theme of Satya Nadella’s reign as CEO of Microsoft, and it’ll be interesting to see how successful Spartan is in bringing Microsoft back to its dominant position in the web browser market. As for myself, short of some revolutionary new features or unbeatable functionality, I can’t see Spartan convincing me to abandon my the Firefox for personal use, Chrome for work setup that I currently have.

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