Where is Spartan? It's not in Build 10041 of Windows 10

Greg Shultz expresses disappointment that Spartan didn't make it into Build 10041 of Windows 10.

Windows 10 Build 10041

I downloaded Build 10041 of the Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview the day that it became available. I've been using it on a daily basis since then and am pretty disheartened by the lack of any major new features. After 8 weeks (56 days) since Build 9926 was released, and all the talk we have heard from Microsoft, I was expecting to see something more substantial in this build. After all, this is called a Technical Preview program, and it's designed to allow us to kick the tires before the actual release. Of course, I don't expect to get the complete operating system at this point in time, but I was really hoping to be able to test drive some of the major features that Microsoft has been hyping for Windows 10 -- namely, Spartan. Let's take a closer look.

In this build

To be fair, Build 10041 does contain a sprinkling of new features here and there, which are indeed very interesting. For instance, the transparent Start Menu and enhanced Task View features that I mentioned in last week's post. In addition, the Notifications Center makes an appearance, as described in a recent CNET article.


As I discovered last week, Spartan, unfortunately, didn't make it into Build 10041. I thought for sure that it would.

We started hearing about Spartan in December of 2014, making us wonder if we would see a new browser in the upcoming release. Then, at the Windows 10: the Next Chapter event, we found out that Spartan wasn't going to be in the January 21st release (which turned out to be Build 9926), but we heard a lot more about Project Spartan at that event. Here are some of the things we learned about Spartan:

  • It would have a new rendering engine, giving it a whole new look and feel.
  • It would feature a customizable reading list that can be saved for offline viewing.
  • It would provide an in-browser note-taking feature that allows you to add comments and annotations to web pages via touch or stylus -- and you can then save your marked up web pages locally and send them to others.
  • It would be tightly integrated with Cortana.
  • Both Spartan and Internet Explorer (IE) would be included in Windows 10, and both would feature the new rendering engine.

All of the information that we learned at that event and all the information about Spartan that has been talked about since then led me to believe that we would see an early version of Spartan in the next release, Build 10041. However, that wasn't in the cards.

Then, this week, we learned that Microsoft is shifting gears with respect to IE and Spartan. At the "Project Spartan" Developer Workshop on the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus, it was announced that:

"...based on strong feedback from our Windows Insiders and customers, today we're announcing that on Windows 10, Project Spartan will host our new engine exclusively. Internet Explorer 11 will remain fundamentally unchanged from Windows 8.1, continuing to host the legacy engine exclusively."

The post goes on to explain the reasons for this decision:

"Project Spartan was built for the next generation of the Web, taking the unique opportunity provided by Windows 10 to build a browser with a modern architecture and service model for Windows as a Service. This clean separation of legacy and new will enable us to deliver on that promise. Our testing with Project Spartan has shown that it is on track to be highly compatible with the modern Web, which means the legacy engine isn't needed for compatibility."

"For Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 10 to be an effective solution for legacy scenarios and enterprise customers, it needs to behave consistently with Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Hosting our new engine in Internet Explorer 11 has compatibility implications that impact this promise and would have made the browser behave differently on Windows 10.

"Feedback from Insiders and developers indicated that it wasn't clear what the difference was between Project Spartan and Internet Explorer 11 from a web capabilities perspective, or what a developer would need to do to deliver web sites for one versus the other."

When it comes down to it, this does indeed make a lot sense and shows that Microsoft is really listening and making adjustments accordingly. It also tells us why Spartan didn't make it into Build 10041.

What's your take?

Were you hoping to see Spartan in Build 10041? What do you think about Microsoft's new direction for Spartan and IE? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

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By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.