Google Chrome killing your device's battery life? This Microsoft fix will help

This Microsoft fix will help stop Google Chrome killing your device's battery life

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Microsoft has always boasted that Edge was more friendly to a laptop's battery than Chrome. Now the company has brought its Windows-level power management experience to the table via a fix to the Chromium project.   

Last year, before Microsoft ditched its own browser engine to replace it with Chromium, the company showed off Edge beating Chrome in a video streaming test on Surface Books running Windows 10.   

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Microsoft of course now contributes to Chromium and the company recently added a commit, spotted by MSPoweruser, which details how Google could improve a device's battery life by changing the way Chrome caches video on a machine. 

"Today, media content is cached to disk during acquisition and playback. Keeping the disk active during this process increases power consumption in general, and can also prevent certain lower-power modes from being engaged in the operating system," wrote Shawn Pickett, a senior software engineer at Microsoft. 

"Since media consumption is a high-usage scenario, this extra power usage has a negative impact on battery life. This change will prevent the caching of certain media content to disk for the purpose of improving device battery life for users."

Pickett proposed that Chromium "prevents streaming media content from being cached to disk where possible", pointing to his document on a Microsoft Edge page on GitHub, which explains how to improve battery life by avoiding unnecessary media caching. 

Pickett notes his proposal is aimed at media playback scenarios where the user is watching content and occasionally going backwards to review some content. 

"For these scenarios, there is no drawback in disabling the disk caching. Since the existing Media Source implementation already maintains the most recent content in memory, the user will still be able to engage in common scenarios such as scrubbing backwards a couple of seconds during playback without needing to reacquire the content from the network. The existing seek responsiveness will be maintained in these cases."

In a note posted to the Chromium Gerrit on Friday, a Google engineer explains that the change adopted "will prevent the caching of certain media content to disk for the purpose of improving device battery life for users."

As per TechDows, Google has added a flag, "Turn off caching of streaming media to disk" to the Canary build of Chrome for macOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android. 

The fix should benefit all Chromium-based browsers, including the new Edge, and indirectly that should benefit the battery life of all Windows PCs, too.

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