Microsoft has confirmed Project Spartan will be the default browser for Windows 10, but that Internet Explorer 11 will be retained to support legacy environments and provide consistency for enterprise customers with a mixed Windows estate.
Project Spartan uses an all-new rendering engine that Microsoft has been developing to deliver an optimal experience for the modern web.
The company disclosed Project Spartan during the Windows 10 update event in January, and speculation has ranged backwards and forwards over whether it will completely replace IE or co-exist alongside it.
The latest update from a special Project Spartan developer workshop yesterday suggests that Microsoft has finally settled the matter: Project Spartan is the future and will be the default browser for all Windows 10 customers.
However, the firm is not getting rid of IE just yet, as this will be in service for some time to come on the many Windows PCs deployed in organisations around the globe.
Based on feedback from customers, Microsoft has decided that it still needs IE to deliver a consistent experience across different releases of Windows, and to support legacy applications that are still used by business customers.
"When we announced Project Spartan in January, we laid out a plan to use our new rendering engine to power both Project Spartan and IE on Windows 10, with the capability for both browsers to switch back to our legacy engine when they encounter legacy technologies or certain enterprise sites," explained Kyle Pflug, Microsoft programme manager for Project Spartan, on Microsoft's IE Blog.
"However, based on strong feedback from our Windows Insiders and customers, today we're announcing that, on Windows 10, Project Spartan will host our new engine exclusively.
"IE 11 will remain fundamentally unchanged from Windows 8.1, continuing to host the legacy engine exclusively."
Project Spartan introduces features such as the ability to annotate web pages, a distraction-free reading experience, and integration of Microsoft's Cortana artificial intelligence platform for finding and doing things online faster.
Microsoft said that it will provide a mechanism to make it easy for customers running Windows 10 to access "the small set of sites on the web that were built to work with legacy technologies" using IE 11 instead of Project Spartan.
Meanwhile, organisations can choose to make IE 11 the default browser via group policy, the firm said, and as IE 11 is fundamentally unchanged from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, it will provide a stable and predictable platform for enterprise customers to upgrade to Windows 10 with confidence.
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