Internet Explorer is Dead
Love it or hate it, Internet Explorer has been the king of browsers since it was introduced in 1995. So why is Microsoft planning to replace Internet Explorer? And what new features will its replacement offer? Read on to learn about the browser that Microsoft has code-named Spartan...
Code Name: Spartan Browser
Internet Explorer's market share peaked at over 95% in 2002 and 2003. Even today, with the rise of Firefox and Google Chrome as worthy competitors, IE commands a significant chunk of desktop browser real estate.
But the company has announced that Windows 10, its next-generation operating system for all platforms, will feature a brand new browser. IE will be shoved into a dusty corner, to be called forth only when needed for compatibility with older applications.
The replacement browser that Microsoft is building from scratch is code-named “Spartan,” and its early iterations have some interesting features. But why is Redmond dropping the IE brand and browser? The answer is comprised equally of past and future.
In its 20 years of desktop dominance, Internet Explorer has acquired a lot of enemies. Many of them are hackers who focus on the biggest target as they search for vulnerabilities and write malware to exploit them. Others are supporters of global HTML standards which make a Web designer’s life much easier. Internet Explorer is notorious for ignoring standards or “extending” them in ways no one else does, necessitating multiple versions or special code for every Web page, to ensure they render correctly on both IE and other standards-compliant browsers.
Many users just don’t like the way IE looks, feels, and acts. So Microsoft, while positioning Windows 10 as a complete break with Windows past, hopes to escape the baggage of Internet Explorer at the same time. Spartan, or whatever it ends up being called, will be the new, cool kid on the block. That will undoubtedly attract some users who in recent years have fled IE for Firefox or Chrome.
Spartan: Digging Deeper
The future is in mobile technology, and there Internet Explorer is barely visible. Less than 1% of mobile browsers are IE. When mobile devices are added to desktops, IE’s usage share plummets to just over 13%, limping along with Firefox and Safari far behind Google Chrome’s 50% overall share.
Part of IE’s poor mobile showing is due to Microsoft’s refusal to make IE versions for Android or iOS; The market share of "Windows Phone 8," Microsoft's mobile operating system, will be only 2.7% this year, according to projections. But even on Windows Phone devices, other browsers are easier to navigate and use fewer resources than Internet Explorer.
“Spartan” is being designed from the ground up, with none of Internet Explorer’s legacy reputational or technical baggage. The next Microsoft browser looks more like its competition, which lowers the learning curve of users who might be persuaded to switch. The overall design is cleaner, with monochrome line-art icons, rectangular tabs, and a flat, easily navigated layout.
One curiosity is the larger percentage of screen real estate devoted to the browser as opposed to Web content. Internet Explorer 11 provides more vertical space to content than Spartan does. It remains to be seen if this is a mistake or if users appreciate not having to squint at the address bar.
Microsoft is promoting three features in Spartan. The first, “reading mode,” strips distracting images and reformats text to make Web content a more book-like read. This isn’t new; other browsers, including IE 11, have a reading mode.
Spartan also supports “annotation,” the ability to add handwritten notes to a Web page using a pen or mouse. Annotated pages can be shared with others. It’s not clear why one would wish to do this, or who would welcome shared annotations.
Microsoft is banking heavily on Spartan’s third key feature: Cortana integration. Powered by the Bing search engine, Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri or Google Knowledge Graph. Type words in Spartan’s search bar and Cortana presents “structured” information about your query. You can also activate an “Ask Cortana” mode to interact with this personal digital assistant.
While Spartan will supplant Internet Explorer, the venerable browser will not disappear completely from Windows 10. IE will ship with the new operating system to provide support for legacy Web applications typically found in enterprises. But Microsoft intends Spartan to be its browser of the future.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Apr 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Internet Explorer is Dead (Posted: 3 Apr 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved