Performance benchmarking: Internet Explorer 8 vs Chrome

IE8 > Chrome?

There are some fantastic myths about browser speed and performance circulating on the web.

There's a very good video (embedded below) showing the results of Microsoft's own performance testing of IE8 against other browsers. MS is a commercial organisation not an impartial source, but they are also highly accountable and can't lie to promote their own products.

An influential network of prolific anti-MS bloggers gleefully promote and distribute popular misconceptions about MS, particularly regarding IE. (E.g. “Chrome is faster than IE", etc.) They seem happy to do so without any scrutiny or reference to the facts, circulating and regurgitating unfounded claims. A number of readers who lack technical or scientific awareness will inevitably absorb some of this misinformation. Mud sticks. The most vocal anti-MS blogs are typically written by people who blatantly have vested interests in products and services which openly aim to compete with Microsoft -- often within the “open source" community. In many cases, the worst offenders are opinion-leaders who officially represent projects seeking to compete with MS. In other words, what they're really doing is serving their own interests.

Microsoft pre-empted the critics a few days before the final release of IE 8.0 by publishing a downloadable document on performance benchmarking to encourage users to test the various claims and counter-claims for themselves and to promote understanding of the computer science involved.

Video: comparing IE8 with other web browsers

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19 March 2009

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Tim Acheson (07 Jul 09, 13:43)

After all the claims about Google's Chrome browser, it's funny to see IE8 working measurably faster than Chrome -- even when loading (just after half way through the video).

Peter Joplin (15 Nov 09, 00:22)

Maybe for those 3 particular pages, Internet Explorer is faster, but I think not. Still, for example is one of the best engineered pages on the web, so being fast on Internet Explorer (still more than 2/3rd market share) is a requirement. a starts slower and loads pages slower.

Are you really, really sure you're not paid by Microsoft to do this site? If you're not, I'd like to politely mention that the video you've embedded in your post was made by Microsoft, and it's a sham. There are actually a lot of independent comparative tests done, that are honest and objective. Google Chrome is the fastest browser according to all real tests. Internet Explorer 8 is (by far) the second slowest of all the popular versions of the 5 major browsers. The absolute worst in terms of security and speed is Internet Explorer 7, if we don't count IE 6 of course, whose percentage shows how many unknowing Internet Explorer users there are. Here's a tip: google [browser test] and [acid3], or bing it (I'm assuming you just might use Bing instead of Google).

Tim Acheson (15 Nov 09, 09:56)

Hi Peter, I can assure you I'm not paid by Microsoft. If anything I'm probably one of MS's most vigorous [constructive] critics! I do have several very robust "wish-lists" for MS products, even if the list is longer for competing products. Yes, the video you refer to is indeed produced by Microsoft, and the video its self makes this very clear throughout. It's available on official Microsoft websites. Are you claiming that the information presented is inaccurate? That would be a serious allegation. The reality is, MS is subject to tremendous scrutiny by competitors and by the authorities, and they really could not get away with publishing falsehoods on their website about their products or rival products. If your position is that a fact is not true if it originates from MS, that's not really a valid argument. It tells us something about your stance though: you've made-up your mind,, you're in the anti-MS camp and you won't accept any facts that cause a problem for your beliefs. Sometimes it seems this debate is almost like a religious thing.

"Google Chrome is the fastest browser according to all real tests"

I wrote this blog post precisely because the web is so full of statements like that. What a shame you forgot to provide examples of the "real tests" that you refer to, as is typical of people who make such statements. ;)

Adam Alvarez (08 Jan 10, 20:35)

i have never personally done a real test on chrome vs internet explorer, but i can say that IE is slower on certain computers than chrome. what's nice about chrome is that it takes up very little resources in order to run. IE on the other hand takes up (on all 3 of my computers at least) about 3 times as much RAM as chrome. now if you have a plenty powerful computer, such as my newer HP slimline, IE 8 may be a bit faster, but not by much at all. it also very much depends on the web pages themselves. chrome is very good at running java script, and it definitely loads it faster than IE.

the major advantage chrome has over IE, and all other browsers of my experience, is its interface. it has the best interface of any browser. plain and simple buttons and nothing cluttering the top. you can change that in IE, but chrome is just more polished with their interface. i also like the ability to have absolutely full screen when you hit f-11 on chrome. however, i haven't tried this yet on IE 8, but i think it has a bar on the bottom like most IE versions.

the main reason , however, that i have chrome installed as the default browser on all of my computers (netbook, desktop, and powerful desktop) is that chrome almost never crashes. for me, IE 8 just asks for too much out of my computers, especially the netbook. i have had it crash multiple times before i could even enter a URL. chrome, however, starts in about 1 second after i click on it, and never lags the processor. i have never had it crash on me, not even once on my netbook. once on the old desktop, but i easily restarted chrome and pulled up the web page (chrome offered a crash report and gave me the url of the page that crashed).

the only browser i use other than chrome is IE, but only if i need to download or use a website that requires internet explorer. i also use safari on a mac i use in school, but chrome just came out for the mac, so that may be about to change.

Tim Acheson (11 Jan 10, 16:38)

Adam, it's good to know that school kids can take so much interest in web client technology!

I can appreciate your point of view, though for superusers and web developers there is still only one other choice for a primary or secondary web browser -- and that's Firefox.

I guess it comes down to the level of the user. For any serious user, the functionality provided by IE8, Firefox 3.5 and add-ons is absolutely essential. Alongside these Chrome is just a gimmick at best, and at worst an extra headache for front-end engineers to deal with.

I can't wait till Microsoft release Internet Explorer 9!

I don't care about benchmarks as they rarely represent how I use browsers. But I do work building web applications and servicing clients from all over the country and my experience is.
IE8 used to be faster sometimes for static pages.
At the beginning Chrome was much faster in complex pages using javascript and ajax.
Chrome is evolving quickly and latest versions significantly outperform any other browser in any aspect. While each IE evolution step takes long long time in consequence by the time IE9 is deployed it will be a few steps behind all the others.
Having said that IE8 is still the most secure browser.

Tim Acheson (24 Apr 10, 12:10)

I can see where you're coming from. I think it's too early to say that when IE9 is released it will be "behind". At this stage, indications are that it will be the preeminent browser, and the fastest web browser for more the new generation of more advanced Ajax websites, even if it's not number 1 in the old benchmarks which other browsers are still built to look good in.

As I put it in my recent blog post summarising the proceedings of the latest SIlverlight UK User Group:

"Firefox is the slowest browser for more complex JavaScript operations (see graph in slides). But debates about browser performance are dominated by simplistic traditional benchmarks."

"Chrome is just a gimmick at best"

Sounds like a statement coming from someone who has never seriously used Chrome. I challenge you to use Chrome as your primary browser for a week - you won't go back.

Tim Acheson (10 Feb 11, 11:14)

@Graeme what is it that you think you’re getting from Chrome that wasn’t already available? You do realise it’s just Webkit under the hood, right? I get the impression you’re not a web developer.

I use IE, FF, and Cr extensively on a daily basis. But you can’t beat FF and IE. There is one very specific scenario in which Chrome is my preferred web browser: uploading longer videos (>2GB) to YouTube. I like the way Chrome handles the initialisation of Java applets, or at least it makes sense in that one scenario, YouTube’s advanced video upload. Even then, Chrome frequently lets me down, regularly crashing and freezing altogether, due to flaws in both Chrome and YouTube’s Java applet.

Yes, Chrome is at best a pointless gimmick, and at worst an extra headache for developers and content providers. Google has proved that recently more than ever before, with their infamous self-serving video codec manoeuvre. By dropping support for H.264, the web’s most popular video format, Google is directly and knowingly impeding the progress and adoption of HTML5. While posing as self-proclaimed champions of HTML5 and the evolution of web technology, Google is in reality single-handedly road-blocking these things. Fortunately, Microsoft quickly stepped-in to limit the damage done by Google to HTML5. Microsoft has stepping forward to subsidise Chrome users, investing their own money, for the sake of HTML5. Google employees and their loyal fans and communities should all be hanging their heads in shame -- seriously.


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