IE8 faster than Firefox and Chrome? Hmmm ...

IE8 faster than Firefox and Chrome? Hmmm ...

Summary: Microsoft has published a document which examines the issues involved in carrying out benchmarking and performance analysis on browsers. Contained in this document is a chart which suggests that IE8 is faster at rendering many of the Internet's top 25 website (as measured by comScore) than either either Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome.


Microsoft has published a document (video here) which examines the issues involved in carrying out benchmarking and performance analysis on browsers. Contained in this document is a chart which suggests that IE8 is faster at rendering many of the Internet's top 25 website (as measured by comScore) than either either Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome.

Here's the chart:

Out of the 25 sites listed, IE8 was the fastest at rendering twelve of the site, while Chrome won on nine while Firefox 3.0.5 was first across the finish line for only four of the sites. So how does this fit in with all the testing which seems to suggest that both Firefox and Chrome as faster (much faster) than IE8?

Well, while I can't flaw the testing process (which does seem quite thorough), I do feel that the choice of test pages is pretty poor. Does Google's landing page really give the browser much of a workout? Yahoo!? Wikipedia? Sure, these landing pages are very, very popular, but most are very tight and highly optimized. What I'd like to see is how the browsers compare when you're looking at a results page on Google or a really big entry on Wikipedia or when looking at the store on Apple's site. If you're just visiting the landing sites of these sites, then IE8 will be faster about half the time, what I'd really like to see is how it performs as you're browsing away from the landing page and actually start doing something on the site you're visiting.

So, while I'm reasonably happy with the way the test was done, I feel that the choice of sites was poor and don't reflect well what people do with their browsers. Also, my experience with the different browsers seems to support my belief that IE is not the fastest for general browsing.


Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Google

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  • So what you are trying to say ....

    ... is that your predisposition to a conclusion not supported by the test allows you to ignore the facts. Very scientific!
    • No ...

      ... I think that the test itself is quite a good one, but the sites chosen aren't representative of the JavaScript/AJAX and layout heavy sites that people actually use.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Adrian I was wrong about you.

        Yes I agree this could of been better, more balanced look at the browser. I believe IE8 is not what the pundits have been panning it about. I do believe that Web Kit offers more flex with Java than IE, therefore faster.
        Good look intoi this post for you, thank you.
        • Bottom line ...

          ... for people still using IE, a better IE is a good thing. Being the market leader default, it's never going to be the best. For those knowing that there's choice, then the fact that we have Safari and Firefox and Opera and Chrome is a good thing too.
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • "Being the market leader by default, it's never going to be the best."

            If IE declines to less than 50% of the market, can it be the best then?

            That's an ill-considered statement, no?!
            Anton Philidor
          • No.

            IE is the market leader in browsers because it comes pre-installed with Windows, the market leader in browsers. Microsoft doesn't have to make IE the best, they just have to make it usuable and install it by default with Windows and it will always win. They can afford not to be the best.

            Other browsers must strive to be great just to stay competitive. I'm sure we all know more than a few non-technical friends or family members who call IE "The Internet". That's what all the other browser developers are up against.
          • market leader by default

            "Being the market leader by default, it's never going to be the best."

            I think the point of that statement is that as long as IE is the default choice (installed on all Windows PCs), Microsoft has no real reason to make it significantly better than Firefox, Opera, or Chrome. So it is unlikely that it will be best of breed, irrespective of market share.
            Third of Five
        • Javascript testing even less balanced .....

          Yeah I agree with Adrian's point about using some more sites, like logged in Gmail and Yahoo and Hotmail and Facebook accounts.

          It could be more balanced, but I think it is already the most balanced test I have seen, since all the others seem to be just about javascript. Which is very unbalanced.
      • Anxiously awaiting your test results for your list of sites :)

        The google results page isn't jscript/ajax either heavy, nor is a wikipedia page (used Rolling Stones as example).

        Like you I think this kind of test where measuring the time before the site displayed and usable is just as valuable if not more so than running millions of jscript loop iterations. However I don't think the results are as of limited value as you may be suggesting.

        Is there anyway for end users to accurately measure this timing with these browsers that doesn't involve user reaction time? If so I encourage you to try your proposed site list and see if you get the results you expect. And I'll add I think a delta of less than 1/20 of a second is not going to be accurately noticeable by anyone. Probably even 1/10. I'd think perception and bias would get in there at that point...
        Johnny Vegas
        • Loading a page should not be the only metric

          to which a browser is measured.

          Once loaded I would hope it can handle the data in that page without an error.
          • IE8

            Right on.My IE8 is very slow to connect
          • I agree

            A page should load in a reasonable amount of time, but it is far more important that the page load correctly. The current generation of browsers are finally getting better at this, but standardization has much more room for improvement. Sadly, though the w3c has standards, the actual de-facto standard has been IE 6 - nearly everyone writes pages that IE 6 can render because it has been the dominant browser for so long.
        • I'd like to see a comprehensive test too

          I have seen a number of the browsers each recently claim they are the best at this or that. My very informal research and testing does, in fact, seem to indicate that each of the browsers has targeted specific areas where they do well. All of the browsers that I have tested: Opera, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Seamonkey, and even Konqueror as a web browser, are greatly improved from even a year ago, and orders of magnitude better than browsers two or more years old.

          All of the browsers are decent for the typical Web page, and most of them can reasonably render at least 75% of content. In the remaining 25%, some web sites definitely favor the classic IE browser - but I consider that ignorance on the part of the site Webmaster. I believe that sites should be developed to conform with XHTML standards and what the W3C has created - and few of them do that perfectly, but to me, that is the standard to use. Safari 4 seems to do that best at the moment, but even IE 8 is finally getting better at it, now that it has competition. I expect browsers to improve, now that they are at the center of what we do.
  • RE: IE8 faster than Firefox and Chrome? Hmmm ...

    Nope. I have to say Google Chrome is the best.
    Without disabling 3rd party extensions, flash
    or anything in IE, just starting it up and
    using as my homepage takes about 6
    seconds. Firefox a little bit faster. But
    overall smoothness and processor usage, Google
    Chrome is the fastest and uses less. I've
    tested all 3 over the course of the past few
    months doing many things. Even youtube (and
    other namely sites) and still GC takes
    the lead.

    IE uses too many things that integrate with the
    system that I don't even know what they are for
    let alone ever use. I mean, was is research and
    discuss? Or all those other things like Web
    Clips? I mean I know WHAT they are but I just
    need to open a page, look at it, click a link
    and go to it. I don't need all kinds of stuff
    running in the background. Even when I turn it
    all off... then half the websites don't work,
    or whatever.

    I think the next battle people need to tackle
    is the use of flash throughout the entire web.

    Only thing I don't like about GC is I can't
    disable animations or flash, which if I could,
    I would do immediately.

    With Firefox, I can at least install a flash
    block and if I want to see something in flash,
    I just click it and it will play as well as add
    a website to always allow flash if I choose.

    But for now, GC is by far the best. And I'm
    only running it on a 1 gb ram, vista sp1, 1.7
    ghz system on a laptop.

    Lastly, the password save feature in IE to this day
    sucks, it doesn't even remember the password on
    Facebook like GC or Firefox does. And I hate that in
    IE you have to start typing or click in the box before
    it brings up your name and password. In GC or Firefox,
    it automatically appears.

    That I like.
  • Maybe MS forgot to clear cache in IE before the test or

    Maybe MS gave IE the highest priority in the OS
    • Just grow up little man...

  • And the centre for tobacco studies......

    Says that there is no conclusive proof smoking is harmful. See the movie "Thank You For Smoking" for reference

    The day I believe MS's comparative numbers (or any company sponsored tests) is the day I believe fairies live at the bottom of my garden.

    Alan Smithie
    • Heheheh

      Good movie reference!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Um, wasn't it...

      ..."Thank You FOR Smoking"?
      • Than you for NOT correcting

        Alan Smithie