Mobile web browsing has lagged behind desktop browsers for some time now, but Microsoft wants to make their browsing experience consistent with Project Spartan. The most recent Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones build has shed some light on what users can expect from Microsoft’s new browser. While some of the framework is there, most of the features are incomplete or broken. Even compared to IE, mobile Project Spartan is missing some key features.
Features like Find On Page are present but don’t work well or at all. Reading View worked but not every article website would activate the Reading View feature. When sites were recognized, the feature worked as expected and stripped down articles to mostly text on a faint beige background with a nice serif font. One small missing feature is the suggestions bellow the address bar while typing website names. Autocomplete would work, but there were no other suggestions.
Favorites, Reading List, and History have been grouped together in the HUB section. This grouping makes sense because these items are accessing content saved or previously visited in one form or another. The History section seems to be broken and doesn’t show any history even after some browsing. There doesn’t seem to be a small limit of tabs, as I was able to open 16+ tabs with no issue. One point of interest would be there are no InPrivate tabs yet in Project Spartan.
Searching from the URL bar will simply launch Cortana with the search query and added ‘+’s between each word. The desktop version of Spartan has Cortana built into the URL bar, so it’s unclear if Microsoft plans to add Cortana to the mobile version URL bar or not. For now there are no Cortana enhanced features like getting restaurant info or weather. Also selecting words does not prompt ‘Ask Cortana’ or any search function.
Project Spartan is an ambitious move by Microsoft to unify their browser experience even across devices. This initial preview is clearly missing some key features and functionality. If Microsoft wants their users to expect the same experience between devices they have a lot of work to do on mobile. Anyone thinking of using Project Spartan full time on their phone may have a bit of a rocky experience with missing features and inconsistent user experience.
If you downloaded and installed this test build on your device, just know that it’s not feature complete, so don’t expect too much. We’ll see how Microsoft polishes up their mobile browser in the coming months before RTM. How do you like the mobile browser so far?Further reading: Microsoft, Project Spartan, Windows 10, Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones