You wouldn’t guess it by looking at desktop browser usage numbers, but Internet Explorer has gotten a (semi-justified) bad rap for years from the most tech-savvy PC consumers. Spotty security and privacy protection lead the list of complaints, alongside Microsoft’s stubbornness to keep everything in the family, and block third-party extensions, or support them very poorly.
For the most part, Redmond has addressed IE’s numerous flaws since the product’s nadir, the disastrous sixth revision from 2001 that PC World called one of the worst products of all time. (“Full of features, easy to use, and a virtual engraved invitation to hackers and other digital delinquents, Internet Explorer 6 might be the least secure software on the planet.”) But even if version 11 is deemed by many a solid Firefox and Chrome contender, altering public perception is no easy feat.
A clean slate is perhaps Microsoft’s best exit — and sources suggest it may be in the cards. Mozilla and Google will soon to be challenged by “Spartan,” according to the perennially knowledgeable inside sources informing Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, and there may not be an Internet Explorer 12.
Microsoft is planning to outshine its rivals on their home turf, by turning up the wattage using familiar products.
Instead, Windows 10 should come pre-installed with the same old, same old IE 11 alongside of Spartan’s all-new inaugural build. This lightweight new browser will reportedly rely on Explorer’s underlying engines, Trident and Chakra, yet sport an overall look and vibe much closer to Firefox and Chrome.
Basically, Microsoft is planning to outshine its rivals on their home turf, by turning up the wattage using familiar products. Sounds like an iron-clad strategy, but some unsafe bets will also have to be made. For instance, Spartan is to integrate extensions and add-ons in a more seamless way. Internet Explorer’s lighter, prettier heir may visit non-Windows platforms as well, although Android or iOS compatibility will certainly take time.
At best, we could hope to see both the desktop and mobile iterations of Windows 10 ship with Spartan pre-loaded in “late summer” 2015, with multi-platform support then offered gradually over the next year or so.
Clearly, we’re diving deeper and deeper in speculation land, so let’s wrap things up here with a save the date reminder for January 21. That’s when Microsoft plans to further detail Windows 10, and chances are Spartan’s name will also come up. Speaking of which, that’s not a final, commercial moniker, but merely an internal codename. So much for all those clever King Leonidas puns.