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by Ray Carlson

Q. Will Microsoft upgrade Internet Explorer as part of Windows 10?

A. Microsoft has indicated that Windows 10 will likely include Internet Explorer 11, the current version, but it will also introduce a new web browser that currently is called "Spartan." The idea of offering two browsers is that the slightly improved Internet Explorer will be similar to past versions and therefore easier to use for those accustomed to that browser. Spartan, however, will seem more similar to Google Chrome and Firefox, and will require less space than the competition. The hope is that its strong underlying software will cause it to appeal to more technically-oriented users. "Spartan" is just a code name and may be changed by the time this new version is formally introduced.

Internet Explorer got a bad reputation with version 6 in 2001. That version was considered to have major security flaws and technical challenges. Internet Explorer improved significantly with each revision since then but never totally lost its negative reputation. One part of that negative reputation was the fact that IE would not allow any software programs not developed by Microsoft. Both Chrome and Firefox add extensions from other companies which carry out a large number of special tasks. Spartan will add that capability. Spartan will continue to use part of the same underlying software but will have a totally new look. This new browser is expected to work on Microsoft mobile devices, but Microsoft staff have not indicated whether this new program will be usable on non-Windows portable devices.

Microsoft is planning to unveil some new features of Windows 10 at its scheduled January 21st public presentation, and if Spartan is included, a beta version may be available for testing. On the other hand, some insiders have suggested Spartan will require a longer period of development and not be available until Windows 10 is formally released.

Published: Courier 1/3/15 - Page 11A