Microsoft has officially side-stepped Internet Explorer in favour of Project Spartan and is giving the world its first chance to play with the browser.
The company has announced you can now preview its latest operating system and web browser, as it has just released a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Keep reading to learn more about the software and how to get your hands - or cursor, rather - on Project Spartan.
How do you get Project Spartan, and is there any risk?
Project Spartan is only available to Windows Insiders as part of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build. To get the Windows 10 Technical Preview, join the Windows Insider Program. Anyone can join via the Insider program's website, but Microsoft recommended that only tech-savvy individuals sign up, as the Technical Preview might have bugs.
Although the Technical Preview should work with any PC running Windows 8.1, you can find out about all the system requirements here. Microsoft said unexpected PC crashes could damage or delete your files, so don't install the Technical Preview on an everyday computer. You should also back up everything before installing.
You can see a list of known issues in the current build, called 10049, here.
Once you sign up for the Windows Insider Program, click one of the download links on this page to download the ISO file that you can use to install the Technical Preview. When the download is complete, transfer the ISO file to installation media like a USB flash drive or DVD, then boot your PC from the installation media, and follow these steps to do a clean install.
If you’re already running a version of the Technical Preview, then you can get the latest build immediately from Windows Update.
What's included in the latest Technical Preview?
A bunch of stuff. Microsoft wrote a blog post to promote the latest build of its Technical Preview, but the star change is that Microsoft has added its Internet Explorer successor, called Project Spartan, which will be the default web experience in Windows 10.
"In this preview, you will see a bold new design for Project Spartan one that is streamlined and puts the focus on the page, not the browser. This is part of our vision for a browser that doesn’t visually interfere with your life on the Web, but supports it. You will also see some of the features that we demo’ed back in January and we hope you’ll love them," explained Microsoft.
With the new technical preview, you will see not only Project Spartan, but also Cortana (Microsoft’s digital assistant) supported in the web browser, along with handy features like contextually aware suggestions, assistance for weather or stocks information, the ability to annotate notes with a pen, and an updated Reading View mode, among other things.
Keep in mind not all of the Project Spartan's features, which Microsoft first demonstrated in January, have been enabled in today’s preview. Cortana is limited to the US for now, for instance, and you currently won't have access to information for calendars and flights nor roaming across devices and saving offline in Reading Mode.
What else will future builds bring?
It's hard to say.
Microsoft has only emphasised that it will have more features and many improvements coming to Project Spartan before it makes the browser broadly available: "This preview is not a polished, ready-for-everyone release," the company said. "Project Spartan will be regularly updated, and the team is engaging with customers and partners closely to tune and update plans."
The final versions of Windows 10 and Project Spartan are scheduled to start shipping this summer.
Want to know more?
Check out the video above, or read Microsoft's blog post, to get more information.