The best Windows browser today: IE 10 or Chrome 25?

The best Windows browser today: IE 10 or Chrome 25?

Summary: Microsoft and Google have both just released new browsers for Windows 7. So which is the best now?

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Microsoft has just released its newest browser for Windows 7: Internet Explorer (IE) 10. Days earlier, Google had released Chrome 25, its latest browser, for all platforms. So, now that both are available on the most popular desktop operating system, Windows 7, which is better for Windows 7 users?

IE10
IE 10 has finally arrived on Windows 7...

To start with the basics, IE 10, which has been available on Windows 8 and Windows RT since they were introduced, is only being made available for Windows 7. If you use Vista or XP, you're still locked into IE 9 and IE 8, respectively.

Chrome is available on XP on up, on Snow Leopard and higher on Macs, and on most contemporary versions of Linux.

Both Web browsers claim that they're doing a great job of supporting Web standards. These include HTML5, CSS3, and Document Object Model (DOM) specifications. In so much as this can be tested, however, Chrome seems to have a comfortable lead. On the HTML5 Test site, Chrome scored an impressive 463 out of a possible top score of 500, while IE came in with only 320.

Each browser has its own features. Chrome 25, for example, has started to incorporate voice-recognition. IE 10, with its roots in touch-friendly Windows 8, is touch-screen ready. Oddly, IE 10's  menu bar, which is at the bottom of the screen in Windows 8 by default, is at its more natural -- as far as I'm concerned -- top position in Windows 7.

Features are rather beside the point.

The bottom line for Web browsers  is speed, so here's how the two did on the benchmarks. To put the two to the test, I ran both on a Gateway DX4710 running Windows 7 SP1. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and has 6GBs of RAM and an Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 for graphics. It's hooked to the Internet via a Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, which, in turn, is hooked up to a 100Mbps (Megabit per second) cable Internet connection.

Chrome25
only to face its fiercest competitor: Google's Chrome 25.

For the first test, I used SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1, the venerable JavaScript benchmark developed by Apple's WebKit team back in 2007. While it's not as well-regarded as it once was, it's still the best known of the Web browser benchmarks.

On SunSpider, where lower results are better, IE 10 blew Chrome 25 out of the water. IE 10 scored 182.63-milliseconds to 521.1-milliseconds.

Next up, I tried the pair on Google's new benchmark, Octane. This is based on Google's earlier V8 test suite. Like SunSpider, it measures JavaScript performance.

With this test, higher is better. As you probably would have guessed, since Octane is used by Google to help build Chrome, here Chrome beat IE to a pulp. Chrome came in with a score of 9,138 to 3,742.

Moving along, I tested the two with the vendor-neutral Peacekeeper from FutureMark, a benchmark company. Like the others, this test measures JavaScript performance, but it also evaluates HTML5 performance. It's often regarded as the best of the browser benchmarks.

Peacekeeper is another benchmark where the higher score the better the browser. Once again, Chrome wins handily on this test. Chrome came in with 2,529 to IE's 1,591.

Kraken, which is Mozilla/Firefox's benchmark, also measures JavaScript benchmark. It's based on SunSpider's code but it's been heavily modified over the year.

Like its forefather, lower scores are better on it. Somewhat to my surprise, Chrome once more beat IE handily. This time, Chrome scored 3,717.4-milliseconds to IE's 9,017.1-milliseconds.

Finally, I tested them on RoboHornet. This is the newest Web browser benchmark. Google created this open-source test-suite with the help of Web developers. It's designed to find the "pain points" in Web browsers. While only an alpha project, it's already being used by programmers to help work out the kinks in their Web browser designs.

In this test, higher scores are better. For once we have a close result and it may surprise you. IE edged out Chrome with a score of 115.38 to 102.73.

So, which is the best? Well, for my money, Chrome seems the easy best pick. Not only does it tend to be faster, usually far faster, than IE, it runs on almost every desktop platform you're ever likely to use and it's more HTML5 compatible. That said, if you're running Windows 7and you must use IE, this latest Microsoft browser is a good choice.

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Topics: Browser, Google, Microsoft, Networking, Windows

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129 comments
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  • The best Windows browser today

    Is the one you are happy with.
    RickLively
    • Of course that should be the answer

      There are some things in IE10 I really like. Such as the plugin detection and warnings. IE10 tells you when you launch a java app if your Java version is out of date and tells you to update it. And this is coming from IE, not Java. Even offers to block Java until you do update it. And with the additional (finally!) of spellcheck it's on par for things of this nature. That said, Chrome is better in SalesForce and so I tend to use it there.

      I have Firefox as well for a handful of things but IE10 is my preferred browser, followed closely by Chrome and then Firefox. And at no point is the speed difference noticeable between the three. They all perform equally well. It's other minor features that draw me to IE10. Probably the top is one the Aero Peek showing each tab. I hate that Chrome only shows the windows and not individual tabs to select. If I have 3 or 4 windows open each with 4+ tabs it's a huge pain with Chrome to figure out which window I need.
      LiquidLearner
      • I cannot even visit ZDNET using Chrome

        Kept getting "400 - bad request / header" error. This problem has been there for a while so I have to use IE or Firefox instead to get here.
        LBiege
        • Re: I cannot even visit ZDNET using Chrome

          Have you had a login session going back weeks or months, by any chance?

          The same thing hit me on my Asus Nexus 7 a couple of weeks ago. I found if I left the ZDNet site for an hour or two, I could come back, but the error would recur as soon as I tried posting comments. However by leaving the site again for a while and then coming back, I was able to log out, clear all the site cookies, log in again, and it's been fine since.

          I think what's happening is ZDNet's stupid comment system keeps feeding cookie after cookie to the browser. Chrome can handle it, but after some point the cookie line it returns to the server becomes so long that the server barfs.

          Hey ZDNet, you want a skilled software developer to help with your QA? Seems like you have a new breakage every other week.
          ldo17
          • Yup

            Started happening to me again recently with Firefox. I guess I have to start rotating browsers again.
            statuskwo5
          • Rotating Browsers

            A few sites refuse to functon here on XP Pro SP3+ so switch back and forth too. ZDNet for instance, works perfectly at ZDNet but FireFox barfs at responding to anything. The "loading" thing comes up at the top of the screen; and stays there, forever. This is with FF 18 and previously 17.
            I have some reliable, oft-used sites that work perfectly with on but not the other. For those I keep little notes in my encrypted file that conatins names and passwords, like IE ONLY or FF ONLY. Some sites will tell you to use one or the other, but not most of them unless you ask about problems you have.
            And Chrome, well, I tried it and it was a "lock-in" type browser; you couldn't export anything to another browser meaning loss of data f you quit using it. So I left and never looked back and never will. I also despise how Chrome tries to sneak onto your machine; it's too widespread and I won't have it.
            twaynes
      • The only think my family use IE-XXX for is

        Webkinz. Seems the Webkinz folks are always messing up their flash games when it comes to Firefox and Chrome.
        wiseoldbird
    • I totally agree

      I keep trying Chrome, but it doesn't seem to want to work they way I want to work. I use NoScript on Firefox and the equivalents on Chrome just aren't up to the job or are not flexible enough.

      For example, I use Disqus on several sites, but the Chrome script blocker blocks that domain and doesn't seem to want to allow me to re-enable it!

      Therefore, I keep going back to Firefox.

      But I also have a Windows 8 tablet and here, IE10 in "modern UI" mode is a lot faster and much more touch friendly than Firefox. Therefore, when I am visiting regular sites, that I know and trust, I'll use IE10, for secure sites, like banking, I'll still go to Firefox and for research, where I don't know what I will come across, I use Firefox, even if it is much slower, in comparison.
      wright_is
      • Firefox + 1

        I've been using Firefox forever. It works perfectly on virtually every site I've ever tried. Pages are rendered instantly. Most of the time, I have at least 30 tabs open at a time. I have a faster-than-T1 Internet connection, so no site is ever sluggish unless it's hosted on somebody's version 1 Mac Mini using WOL. ;) I don't use any of the plug-ins, so I never have the strange troubles some people seem to have. I'm accustomed to the way it works. Unless they completely ruin it somehow, I see no reason to ever change to anything else.
        BillDem
    • Happpiness is overrated

      What if you're happy with your browser while it's welcoming silent malware behind your back?
      paul613
      • Happpiness is overrated

        Sounds like sour grapes there and only happens to those who don't protect themselves and have the common sense to stay off of non-reputable sites. Browsers are seldom the source of malware unless the user asks for it.
        twaynes
        • "non-reputable sites"

          Like NBC.com or the hundreds of small business sites that are routinely hacked to distribute malware in a drive-by attack? Yeah, anyone surfing the net is just asking for it.
          ejhonda
      • Chrome Doesn't Load Maleware Behind Your Back!

        Google is very upfront about it. Just read their terms of service. You grant Google the right to snoop around on your hard drive and upload information they find on your system and transmit it to Google. Not Kidding.
        Patrickgood1
    • no kidding

      There's more to a browser than speed. We're talking a difference in milliseconds for the most part. As always your connection is a bigger impact to the overall browser experience. I think IE10 has better security controls in place that better serve the majority of end-users. Most people are not techies so they need all the help they can get while surfing the web.
      Rob.sharp
  • It's not on the bottom by default

    Unless you're talking the Metro IE. IE10 desktop has the address bar on the top. The bottom makes more sense for a touch interface though, which is why it's there on Metro.
    LiquidLearner
    • Another thing

      Disabling Aero when you have a graphics card capable of using it actually slows system performance, including in IE, since you've disabled parts of the acceleration.

      I still don't get why we include Google benchmarks and not MS benchmarks. Seems a bit skewed.
      LiquidLearner
      • your impressions are irrelevant

        If you think this is skewed, then run the tests on your machine and post the results. But again, your impressions are irrelevant.
        Jean-Pierre-
  • All the tests you saw showed that chrome was the very best browser

    with the next round of tests done with your eyes opened to see if you get the same results.
    I can see why you didn’t test against Safari. Chrome would have got it’s ass kicked.
    I Am Galactus
    • No firefox?

      Why no firefox in this test?
      the.nameless.drifter
      • FireFox is Now Faster Than Chrome.

        The Browser Speed Test sites give Firefox the edge in Page Rendering Speed. Example: browser-battle.com I do not know about this site it just came up first when searching "Browser Speed Tests". I have tried others and FireFox beats Chrome. I could not quickly find an up to date review.

        When IE supports an AdBlock add-in, I will consider. Blocking Google Ad Sense, Double-Click, and Google Analytics is too good to give up.
        Patrickgood1