Project Spartan leaked: Here's how Cortana will work in Microsoft's new browser

Brace yourselves: The Clippy jokes are coming.

It looks like you're viewing a restaurant's website. Would you like help?

More than a decade after burying Clippy, we're seeing echoes of the virtual assistant in Project Spartan, the lightweight new browser Microsoft is building for Windows 10. Cortana is going to be a centerpiece in Spartan, but unlike her anthropomorphic paperclip ancestor, she actually seems useful.

In a leaked build obtained by WinBeta, Cortana appears as a text prompt on the far right side of the address bar, offering extra information as you visit certain types of websites. For instance, going to a restaurant's home page will bring up a message, reading "I've got directions, hours, and more." Clicking the message brings up a sidebar with the restaurant's contact information, location, reviews and an OpenTable reservation link.

Cortana can also help out with words and phrases on any web page. Right clicking on a text selection shows an "Ask Cortana" option in the context menu, bringing up a sidebar with definitions and other information sourced from Bing.

While not explicitly a Cortana feature, the browser will also be able to show certain types of information straight from the URL/search bar. For example, if you start typing "weather," the local forecast will appear before you've even completed the word.

The current Windows 10 preview build doesn't include Project Spartan, though its Edge rendering engine is available in Internet Explorer. Spartan is reportedly on track for the next preview build, which should arrive some time this month.

Why this matters: Although Microsoft announced Cortana as a Spartan feature back in January, details have been slim on how the virtual assistant would actually work. What we're seeing so far is basically a way to get Bing's knowledge engine in front of more users, even if they rely on Google for searches. Microsoft must know it walks a fine line between being helpful and being a nuisance, so hopefully Cortana will stay out of the way when it's not able to offer anything of value.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftbrowserssoftwareapplicationsbingcortanaOpenTableWindows 10

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?