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You can now test Project Spartan, Microsoft's Internet Explorer successor

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Microsoft is releasing a preview of its Internet Explorer successor, Project Spartan, today. The new browser, which will be the default web experience in Windows 10, is part of an update to the PC Windows 10 preview. Microsoft promised faster builds for testers, and it’s delivering on that promise today. After less than two weeks, Windows 10 testers can now download a new build (10049) that will include the Project Spartan browser. If you’re already running a preview version of Windows 10 then it’s available immediately from Windows Update, otherwise you can join the Windows Insider program to test Project Spartan and Windows 10.

While Microsoft demonstrated a variety of Project Spartan features back in January, not all of them are enabled in today’s preview. Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, is included with features like contextually aware suggestions, and assistance for weather or stock information. While Cortana is present, calendar and flight information won’t be available as part of today’s preview, and the digital assistant is limited to the US for now in Project Spartan. Similarly, an updated Reading View mode is available in the Spartan preview, but roaming across devices and saving offline aren’t available just yet. Both features are planned for the final version of Windows 10 and Project Spartan which will ship in the summer.

You can draw straight on web pages with Project Spartan

One of Spartan’s more impressive features is the ability to annotate notes with a pen. While recently leaked builds of Spartan didn’t feature this, today’s preview will include this new Web Notes function. You can write or type directly on to a webpage, and share the comments through email, social networks, or through OneDrive. Microsoft even supports OneNote too, for easy clipping of web pages and inking comments or notes on them.

Today’s preview is just an early look at Project Spartan, and Microsoft is promising to update its new Windows 10 browser frequently. "Project Spartan will be regularly updated," says Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. "The team is engaging with customers and partners closely to tune and update plans." Microsoft previously revealed it also plans to support extensions in Project Spartan in a future update, so new features are clearly in the works. Microsoft is also preparing to release a new Windows 10 for phones preview, and it’s likely that Spartan will be included in that release.

Farewell, Internet Explorer

While Project Spartan is a successor to Internet Explorer, Microsoft is still planning to ship its "legacy engine" browser in some versions of Windows 10. The Verge understands that the software giant is currently evaluating a number of different ways to ship Internet Explorer in Windows 10 to those who require it, and that it will be primarily targeted at enterprise customers. Microsoft is not pinning Internet Explorer to the task bar or Start Menu in Windows 10, and Project Spartan will take over. Today’s preview includes that new behavior, and we hear that Internet Explorer could eventually become a Windows feature that you have to enable to get access to the old browser. Internet Explorer itself (the app) might not be fully dead just yet, but Microsoft is killing off the brand name in favor of a new name for Project Spartan, and the company says it’s the future of its browser efforts.