Project Spartan web browser Windows 10
Project Spartan will run on Windows 10 smartphones, tablets and PCs Screengrab

One of the most interesting aspects of Windows 10 is the inclusion of an entirely new web browser called Project Spartan - and for the first time it is available for anyone to test out.

As part of Microsoft's on-going Windows 10 Technical Preview program, the latest build of Windows 10 to be released (Build 100049) includes the all-new browser. Microsoft has said that while the iconic Internet Explorer will remain as part of the Windows 10 system, Project Spartan is the operating system's main browser and has been designed from the ground up to work across a range of devices from smartphones to desktops computers.

The latest build of Windows 10 however will only allow you use Project Spartan in desktop mode and not on smartphones for now.

Project Spartan - as its name implies - is a stripped back and simplistic web browser which Microsoft says "puts the focus on the page, not the browser".

Joe Belfiore, who heads up the development of Windows 10, said: "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."

Once dominant

Internet Explorer once dominated the web browser market, but in the last six years has seen its market share drop from over 70% to under 30% as Chrome and Firefox have taken huge chunks of the market.

Internet Explorer is widely seen as a clunky and dated piece of software which is not suited to the mobile-first world in which we now live. Microsoft's answer to this problem is Project Spartan.

Or, as Belfiore puts it, Microsoft wanted to "build a browser that is designed for the modern web – a browser for people that have grown up with the web; who have integrated the web into their lives in incredible and unexpected ways; who are no longer just exploring a new frontier, but are using the web to get things done. After all, the world we live in is evolving, the web is evolving, and our needs are evolving."

Cortana baked-in

The new browser includes a number of unique features including having Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana integrated directly into the browser - though this features is initially only available in the US version of Windows 10.

With a focus on the touchscreen interfaces on which it will run, Microsoft's Project Spartan allows users to annotate any webpage using a new feature called Inking, allowing you share what it calls a "web note" easily through email or social media.

The company is keen however not to alienate its enterprise customers and promises that it will be easy to set Internet Explorer 11 as the default web browser through the group policy feature.

Belfiore warns that this is not the finished product and there will be more coming in the final version of Project Spartan:

"It's important to note we'll have more features and many improvements coming to Project Spartan before we make it broadly available. This preview is NOT a polished, ready-for-everyone release. For Windows Insiders, we're excited to make Project Spartan available for your feedback, only a short time after we made it available for use internally at Microsoft."