Browser benchmarks: IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari

Summary:Web 2.0, with its complex sites and rich Ajax applications, is an increasingly demanding platform for a browser. In this guide, we look at how the leading browsers measure up.

When Tim Berners-Lee presented his employer CERN with the first browser, WorldWideWeb, to facilitate information flow between the different departments in the European nuclear research centre in Geneva, he little suspected that it would cause a revolution in the information age. Today, the browser is probably the most widely used computer application.

However, the tasks performed by a web browser have changed significantly. As well as displaying text and images, the modern browser needs to accommodate technologies such as JavaScript, DOM and XML in Ajax-based programs. Even if you're not familiar with Ajax, you'll probably have used it via Google Maps, Google Mail or AjaxWrite; sites such as Flickr and Last.fm also make intense use of this technology. Ajax has even taken root in the business environment: for example, 24SevenOffice is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that runs in a web browser. The advantage of this Web 2.0 technology is platform independence: you don't need a specific operating system or processor to run Ajax applications — just a compatible browser.

Web 2.0 applications and sites place the focus firmly on browser performance. Anyone who still believes that the speed of your DSL connection is the only potential bottleneck is gravely mistaken. Key parts of Ajax applications run locally, which means that — all other things being equal — the speed of the browser will be crucial in determining the user experience. For Ajax-based business applications, the browser becomes even more important because data will be accessed from within-firewall servers rather than the internet. Companies deploying such solutions will be able to improve employee productivity by paying attention to browser performance.

 

Topics: Apps, Reviews, Software

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