Microsoft announced back in January that Windows 10 would ship with two browsers, the regular IE11 for backwards compatibility, and Spartan. Spartan is the company’s take on what modern-browsing should be, a competitor to Google Chrome and Firefox, and the default browser in Windows 10. Spartan includes a number of neat little features, including a reading mode, extensions, annotation abilities, and Cortana integration.
Cortana integration is one feature that stood out to me when Microsoft unveiled Spartan back in January. The idea is simple, Cortana surfs the web with you, occasionally pulling in useful information that can help you out. Say for example you visit a business’s website, Cortana will attempt to find important information about the business that she thinks you might want to know, including opening hours, location, phone numbers and reviews.
She can also help you out generally when you need her. One way I frequently used her was when reading articles or information. I’m no English teacher, so every so often I’ll come across a word I don’t quite understand. Luckily with Spartan, I can ask Cortana what a particular word means, and without taking me to another webpage she’ll pull in the definition of the word in question, allowing me to better understand the content I’m reading.
Notice how I said ask Cortana, the function is actually called “Ask Cortana”. It works by highlighting the word or phrase in question, right click, and selecting “Ask Cortana”. It works for a wide array of things, including locations, foods, companies, and more.
When interacting with Cortana, you’ll mostly see her in a sidebar that slides out from the right hand side when needed. She doesn’t sit on screen 24/7, so your browsing experience won’t be interrupted. She’ll only pop out when you ask her to, either by using the Ask Cortana feature or clicking on her when she offers information.
Also, in the build we played with, Cortana doesn’t make any noise. I’m not sure if Microsoft has the intention of making her make noise within Spartan, and even if they do, I imagine that will be an option you can change. So those who were worrying about Cortana being distracting whilst browsing the web, you can relax.
Spartan in Windows 10 is shaping up to be an excellent browser. It’s modern, clean, and awesome to use. After using Spartan for just a few days, going back to a ‘normal’ web browser feels empty. Google Chrome and IE11 just feel like they’re missing something, which is definitely an odd experience.
Hopefully, the build pushed out to Windows Insiders this week will include Spartan for all users to enjoy. So keep checking back at WinBeta for more news regarding the upcoming Insider build and its many new features.