California, December 30: Microsoft is developing a new, streamlined web browser that will replace Internet Explorer, according to reports, in an apparent attempt to move towards other popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
The new app could also help Microsoft distance itself from users’ bad memories of old versions of IE. In the past the company has considered changing the name to separate the current browser from “negative perceptions that no long reflect reality”, according to developers.
The browser, codenamed Spartan, is set to be shown off on January 21st when Microsoft demonstrates its new Windows 10 operating system, according to people close to the company. But it might not be ready for release when the early version of the software launches the same month.
Though the new browser will be the default one in future versions of the operating system, Windows 10 will ship with a new and backwards-compatible version of Internet Explorer, IE 12, too.
The new browser will still use many of the same technologies as Internet Explorer, but will have a stripped down look and feel, and will support extensions.
While the company has long been thought to be planning an overhaul of its browser for the new operating system, it was previously expected that would come as an update to IE rather than as a new and separate app.
Thomas Nigro, a developer on video app VLC and a Microsoft student partner, was one of the first people to mention the new browser.
Code referencing the Spartan name has been found in early versions of the new Windows.
Though the browser is being called Spartan for now, that is just a codename and could well change before launch.
IE was released in 1995, and has since gone through 11 different versions.
It initially dominated the browser market, but competitors like Firefox and Chrome have steadily taken its share. Estimates of its use put it around a quarter and a half of all browsing.