A new Windows 10 build has landed for Windows Insiders who are in the Fast ring, keeping Microsoft’s promise of a much more rapid build release cycle. Not much has changed, but there have been bug fixes, a revamped Calculator, and a new browser.
The new browser is currently called Project Spartan, continuing Microsoft’s trend of using Halo codenames for new products, such as Threshold, and Cortana. An official name for the browser has not yet been decided, but it will have “Microsoft” somewhere in the name.
This version of Project Spartan is far from complete, with many features still missing or only partially implemented, but I took it for a spin anyway, on a tablet and on a desktop too.
The UI is minimalist, with the tabs residing on the application bar rather than below it, which provides a larger viewing area over existing browsers. The browser is a Windows App (e.g. Metro or Modern), enabling more flexibility for the UI than traditional Win32 apps. Windows Apps are being updated to support drag and drop and other more traditional features, so any awkwardness which was present in Windows 8 should be ironed out by RTM.
Cortana is present as well. Typing search phrases into the address bar invokes Cortana and she will provide an answer without needing to venture out to a search engine or another site.
Reading mode is a nice touch, something which Chrome lacks, and provides more options than Internet Explorer does on Windows 8.x. The Actions menu is to the point, with no confusing or pointless options crowding it.
Performance of the app over all is a little sluggish, but that’s understandable, as this is more of an alpha than a beta. On touch, it lagged a lot, but such lag was not as noticeable with a mouse and keyboard.
I have not encountered any broken websites with Spartan, but rendering takes a little longer than on Chrome, likely because I have an ad blocker installed on Chrome, which helps with loading times.
On the HTML5 test, Chrome scores 523, while Spartan comes in with 375. Not show stopping, but definitely something Microsoft will continue to work on.
Over all, I feel it’s a solid start, and I look forward to seeing further builds of Project Spartan.