During Microsoft's consumer-focused Windows 10 press conference today, the company created something that many of us have been waiting for, a Microsoft alternative to Internet Explorer—Meet (codename) Spartan.
Microsoft Joe Belfiore gave us a quick tour of the new browser. One of the coolest modes was note-taking mode, which sounds exactly what you'd think. You can draw directly on the webpage, which captures the images, and lets you collaborate with others by adding comments and notations. All these webpage-based collaborations will be automatically synced to OneDrive.
The next mode is specifically for reading. You can rearrange web views to make them easier to read however you'd like. You can also curate a "Reading List" that will sync across phones and tablets. Think of all the "will read later" services out there, such as Instapaper (etc.), but baked right into the browser. Pretty neat!
But that's not the only baked in feature. Cortana will also be part of Spartan. Cortana will pop into the address bar and fill in information it thinks you're searching for. For example, Belfiore only typed in "Delta" and it brought up any related flight information in the address bar. And if you're looking for specific information on restaurants or movie theaters or whatever, Cortana will also pop in a side window (if summoned), providing all the information you'd need (shown below) after mining information from the webpage. Double neat!
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest rumors about Spartan, that it would support Chrome extensions, made no appearance at Microsoft's event. Also, it's still uncertain if Spartan will be unfettered from Windows-based hardware. The ultimate fate of Internet Explorer wasn't discussed, but rumors have said that browser may be sticking around for the Windows 10 release for backwards compatibility reasons.
Unfortunately, we won't be able to get a closer look at Spartan for another "3, 4, or 5 months" for Insiders, and much later than that for phones.
We're updating this story in real time. As long as you see this message at the bottom of the post, refresh your browser every so often for more details!