Part 2 of the browser wars is coming

Microsoft is rumored to be working on a new browser for Windows 10. So new, it may not even be called Internet Explorer.

It will still use Trident, Microsoft’s web rendering engine, so it’s likely to be more about changing the user interface (to be more like Chrome) and brand than anything fundamental. However, the break is supposedly big enough that Microsoft will include both this new browser and the existing IE11 “just in case” for Windows 10.

The new browser’s primary feature is to be lightweight and fast loading; hence its code name “Spartan” within Microsoft. This is the browser designed for all devices: PCs, tablets, phones and maybe even smaller.

It will probably have native app support – similar to extensions – and I expect Microsoft to eventually port it to Android and iOS.

google-io-2013-chrome-android-devices-3454

One of Chrome’s biggest strengths is that you can use it on almost any platform and device, so your bookmarks, extensions, settings, etc. follow you. For many, Chrome is effectively their portal to Google’s services, and the precursor to the future of a cloud operating system.

Microsoft must surely see this, and thus Spartan as its strategic next step.

Yet again, Microsoft is playing catch-up to Google, but in this case it may have an opportunity. Chrome is simply getting too bloated as a browser, so if Microsoft can deliver on Spartan’s lightweight nature it could be a viable alternative.

The battle for the cloud may ironically resemble the Internet portal wars of the 90s waged among Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. It could be about winning the consumer’s first stop of the day, and that’s looking more and more like the browser regardless of platform and device.

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