Windows 10 should bring lots of changes to Microsoft's operating system, including a possible overhaul of Internet Explorer. Many believed the beleaguered browser would be getting an update with codename "Spartan," including much needed additions like extension support. Now, ZDNet reports that Spartan may in fact be a new browser entirely.

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So what's different? Well, rumors say the underlying structure of IE/Spartan won't be changing that much. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, IE will continue to use Microsoft's JavaScript and rendering engines. However, the browser will be light-weight and akin to its rivals like Chrome and Firefox with extension support. This also brings up the question if Spartan will be portable on non-Windows systems, such as Android, iOS, or OS X. We don't know as of yet, but if it truly is mimicking Chrome and Firefox, the idea isn't too crazy.

Foley's undisclosed sources say Windows 10 will ship with both Spartan and IE11, though the latter may be for backwards compatibility only, and that Spartan will also be available on the Windows 10 mobile OS. The name Spartan could be a codename for Microsoft's new browser, but the company does have an affinity for using Halo references for its software (i.e. Cortana). Whatever it will be called, this news seems more involved than just changing the name of the browser as the IE team suggested during a Reddit AMA earlier this year.

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Spartan seems like it could be a "two birds, one stone" solution. Kill off the brand name that has become synonymous with poor browser performance, and create something new that addresses all the shortcomings of its forebears. Every new leak makes Windows 10 seem like the software savior Microsoft needs. Hopefully we'll learn more about Spartan and everything else about Microsoft's new OS at the Windows 10 event in late January. [ZDNet]