Meet Microsoft’s Project Spartan, The New IE6

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Mattias Geniar, January 21, 2015

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I don’t often get excited about Microsoft, but together with their open source strategy and this new browser, they may be heading in the right direction. Unless this turns out to be another IE6.

Microsoft will ship their Windows 10 release with a new browser called “Spartan".


It’s supposed to be a trimmed down version of Internet Explorer, but compatible with Google’s Chrome Extensions (these are still rumours at this point). These browser extensions are in fact just Javascript, HTML and CSS (like Firefox extensions).

By adding support for Chrome’s extensions, it would make it a lot easier and faster for plugin developers to publish their extensions for Spartan. And it instantly buys Microsoft a great share of the extension market.

Sounds good so far, right?

Here’s the downside: Microsoft is adding a rendering engine of their own to Project Spartan, for “speed” and “security”. That means no trusted Webkit, Blink or Gecko rendering engine like we know from Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

Is it a fork of one of those projects? Is it really brand new? What’s the compatibility with todays standards like? To quote Microsoft: “that new browser is about being fast and compatible with the modern web”.

Are we looking at another CSS conditional stylesheet?


Spartan looked like a good move, but yet another HTML/CSS renderer with quirks of its own? That’s a hard sell. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I had great expectations for this project. Especially since the rumours of chrome extension compatibility.

I’m not sure this story will have a happy ending.

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