Microsoft has already unveiled their latest project in the form of an entirely new Windows operating system, Windows 10. More recently, a new Microsoft web browser code-named “Spartan” is making tech headlines, which may be released alongside the new operating system.

Before you get the image of King Leonidas kicking a scrawny Internet Explorer user into a bottomless pit, let’s take a look at the current state of things for Microsoft’s age-old web browser. Once upon a time, it might have held over 90 percent of the browser market, but with so many other browsers in the market right now, it’s not as relevant as it used to be. Here are some browser usage statistics from 2014 taken from web design website W3Schools:

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  • Google Chrome: 60.1 percent.
  • Mozilla Firefox: 23.4 percent.
  • Internet Explorer: 9.8 percent.
  • Apple Safari: 3.7 percent.
  • Opera: 1.6 percent.

It’s clear that Internet Explorer has seen better days, and in order to compete with this new generation of browsers, Microsoft needs to adapt their strategy. One of the biggest flaws in Internet Explorer is that it’s only compatible with the Windows operating system. With Google’s Android being the most prominent mobile operating system with a 47.06 percent market share, and iOS coming in a close second at 43.86 percent, it’s clear that Internet Explorer is being forsaken for more versatile web browsers that can be used on other operating systems and devices.

According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Spartan is an attempt to bring a Microsoft web browser back to the forefront of the browser race. She specifies that her sources (which remain anonymous) hint that Spartan is not Internet Explorer, and that it’s designed to be a lightweight and powerful contender for other modern browsers, like Google Chrome and Firefox. Supposedly, it will also take advantage of extensions and add-ons to provide a more complete experience similar to other browsers.

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As we’ve seen by the preliminary details of Windows 10, this operating system is designed to be compatible with multiple different devices and systems. While it hasn’t been confirmed that Spartan will be compatible with mobile operating systems, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it will work on smartphones and tablets, too. According to Foley’s sources, Windows 10 will be released with both Internet Explorer 11 and Spartan, giving the end-user a choice in how they want to go about their browsing experience. This also means that companies utilizing applications specific to Internet Explorer won’t have to revamp their strategy.

Microsoft’s shift in policy from OS-exclusive software is like a breath of fresh air for the company. Microsoft has gradually been moving toward more versatile versions of the office applications we all know and love, like Microsoft Word and Excel. Last year in March, the software company released the popular Microsoft Office suite for Apple’s iPad, and later in the year, they released versions of these apps compatible with the iPhone.

The future’s looking bright, especially for Windows users. What new features do you hope to see in Spartan? What are your thoughts about it so far? Let us know in the comments.

January 14, 2015