Windows 10 build 10051 leaked to the web a few days ago. The most salient detail about this build is that it has the new Spartan web browser. Before you glower at me for praising Microsoft’s latest browser I need to convince you that the accolaids are merited.
Here are the top 3 features you need to know about Microsoft newest web browser: Project Spartan.
1. Do-not-track is disabled by default
Are you aghast?
So here’s the deal: in Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11, Microsoft decided to enable Do-not-tracking (DNT) by default. DNT was an initiative spearheaded by Microsoft with IE9 that attempted to discourage third-party advertisers from tracking users browsing habits without their consent. In the HTTP header sent to the server, there’s a field labeled DNT that takes either the value 1 for being enabled, meaning “Don’t track me” or a 0 for being disabled which means “It’s okay to track me”. IE9 through 11 have this field set to 1; which initially might make sense until you realize that it isn’t really a neutral position.
In other words, Microsoft is telling advertisers not to track you but according to the W3C, the governing body who controls the DNT standard:
The signal sent MUST reflect the user’s preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user’s control; this applies equally to both the general preference and exceptions. The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user
But the problem is that almost no one changes the defaults.
In others words, people are already implicitly making a choice by not making a choice.
I don’t know how you feel about this but it’s pretty perturbing.
2. Reading View is praiseworthy
Apple users have enjoyed the Reading view in Safari for ages. By simply clicking the tiny paragraph icon in the location bar, you could instantly strip away all the superfluous ads and image. Only the text remains making it super easy to enjoy the websites you love without distractions.
If it does, you can dismiss the crap and focus on the content. The reading font is more pleasant on the eyes and the background becomes a pleasant shade of beige. You can assimilate more information and this is a top feature for people who read long articles on ad-laden websites.
Check out the before and after on one of my favorite entrepreneurial websites:
After clicking the “open book” icon in the location bar:
3. Cortana all in
Cortana is your girl next door and she’s ready for whatever you an throw at her.
She still needs some work but the idea is that you’ll be able to right click any phrase and Ask Cortana for details.
The Bottom Line
Spartan will be the default browser in Windows 10 when it ships this summer. Internet Explorer will still be available but it won’t open by default. It also has a minor feature that lets you shoot links directly to other apps. So the next time you find a cool article on fixedbyvonnie.com you can send it to OneNote.
So what do you think of Spartan? Can it take on the big boys of FireFox and Chrome? Is it ready for prime time?