March 25, 2015

What does ‘Project Spartan’ mean for Developers


Whenever Microsoft announces anything to do with new web browsers, web developers across the land start getting twitchy. What new IE hacks am I going to have to learn?? And I hope someone creates a new IE JavaScript polyfill are some of the initial thoughts that spring to mind.

But lets dig a little deeper into ‘Project Spartan’ and see if the usual fears around developing for Internet Explorer are founded.

In what has been dubbed Microsoft’s biggest announcement for the web since the introduction of Internet Explorer in 1995, ‘Project Spartan’ (presumably named after the protagonist in Halo) was announced in January 2015. It is going powered by Microsoft’s New Rendering Engine, EdgeHTML.dll. Windows 10 already has it integrated.

The latest versions of Trident powering Internet Explorer 11, did show a remarkable support for standards, but its progress was heavily weighed down by the burden of legacy support for IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9, and IE10. It simply couldn’t match the speed and agility of the likes of Chrome and to a lesser extend Firefox whilst carrying the support baggage of the older IEs.

Whilst all noise coming from Spartan is encouraging, organisations that use older versions of IE today are unlikely to switch to Microsoft’s new browser any time soon. And Microsoft know this:

We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support,”

…a Microsoft spokesperson said. So ultimately, what does the mean for developers….? Unfortunately, not much.

Yes, Spartan will have a much greater support for modern standards (HTML5, CSS3 etc) – but with Microsoft still supporting legacy versions of Internet Explorer and businesses still using them, developers will still have to code with those browsers in mind.



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