Microsoft's next-gen browser has annotation system, Cortana assistant

Microsoft's rumored Project Spartan browser is real, and it's coming to Windows 10 devices, including smartphones. This apparent heir to Internet Explorer has a new rendering engine to go along with an updated interface. It also packs a bunch of new features revealed at the Windows 10 event today.

As with the rest of the OS, Cortana is deeply integrated into the experience. Microsoft's virtual assistant automatically provides relevant information based on what's displayed on the page and typed in the address bar. Users can also get more details on specific page elements by right-clicking on highlighted words and phrases.

Annotation is a big part of the browser. Notes can be scribbled on top of web pages and then saved and shared with the underyling links intact. The annotation system seems best suited to stylus input, but there are options to add notes with a keyboard, mouse, and fingertip.

Last, but not least, Spartan adds a special reading mode that appears inspired by similar functionality in Safari. This mode strips everything but the page's core content to provide an uncluttered reading experience. It supports caching pages for offline viewing, as well.

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