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The best web browser to replace obsolete Internet Explorer is...

​IE 8, 9, and 10 just became largely unsupported. What's a Windows user to do? Here are your choices.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

On January 12, 2016, the support clock ran out for Internet Explorer (IE) 8, 9 and 10. True, there are a few exceptions, IE 9 on Vista and Windows Server 2008, and IE 10 on Windows Server 2012 still live. But for most Windows users the time has come to to switch to a new browser.

Of course, you could stick with a browser that's no longer supported, but sooner or later that way leads to a security disaster. Don't do this!

Instead consider one of the following browsers: Chrome 49, Firefox 43, IE 11, or Opera 34.

To see how they worked I ran benchmarks on a fully updated Windows 7 Gateway SX2802-07 PC. This older computer uses a dual-core 2.6 GHz Intel Pentium E5300 processor. This system has 6GBs of RAM. It also has a data bus speed of 800 MHz. For an Internet connection, I used a 120Mbps cable connection on a Gigabit local area network.

The easiest way to get a new, supported browser is to simply upgrade to IE 11. You can do that in two ways: Download the installer from Microsoft--be wary of getting it from third-party websites---and simply install it. Or, you can simply update your system. Either way works perfectly well whether you're moving from IE 8, 9 or 10 to 11.

While IE 11 is excellent on Windows 10. It doesn't perform that well on Windows 7.

There are several reasons why Microsoft is so insistent that you upgrade to Windows 10. This is one of them. Edge, the Windows 10 specific browser, and IE 10 simply run better on the same hardware with Windows 10 than on earlier versions of Windows.

I put my PC on the test bench, ran the following benchmarks, and this is what I found.

Jetsteam 1.1: This JavaScript benchmark builds on the foundation of the no longer supported SunSpider, It combines several JavaScript benchmarks to report a single score that balances them using geometric mean. Jetstream includes benchmarks from the SunSpider 1.0.2 and Octane 2 JavaScript benchmark suites. This test suite also includes benchmarks from the LLVM compiler open-source project, compiled to JavaScript using Emscripten 1.13. It also includes a benchmark based on the Apache Harmony open- source project's HashMap and a port of the Cdx realtime Java benchmark, hand-translated to JavaScript. Larger scores are better on this benchmark.

On this test, Opera, yes Opera, came in first with a score of 89.84. It was followed by Chrome, 83.61; Firefox, 81.87; and a distant last, IE with 64.77.

Kraken 1.1: This benchmark, which is based on the now obsolete SunSpider, measures JavaScript performance. To this basic JavaScript testing, it added typical use case scenarios. Mozilla, Firefox's parent organization, created Kraken With this benchmark, the lower the score, the better the result.

Here, Chrome romps to victory with a score of 2,436.1 milliseconds (ms). Firefox takes second, 2,856.9 ms and Opera comes in third, 2942.6 ms. IE finished a dismal last with 2943.5 ms.

Octane 2.0: Google's contribution to JavaScript testing, also includes scenario testing for today's highly interactive web applications. Octane is not Chrome specific. For example, it tests how fast Microsoft's TypeScript compiles itself. In this benchmark, the higher the score, the better.

Chrome, with a score of 14,439 edged out Opera, 14,117, for first place. Firefox finished with a respectful third-place score of 11,793. IE, alas, was way behind the pack with 7,801.

RoboHornet: This benchmark doesn't just focus on JavaScript. Instead it "encompases all aspects of browser performance and everything that matters to web developers, like performance of layout and localStorage." Once more, on this benchmark, the higher the score the better.

Once more, Chrome took the lead early and never looked back in its run to first place. It was followed by Firefox wih 78.31; IE with a respectable 72.92, and Opera, oddly enough, finishing in last place with 41.11.

HTML5 Test: Finally, I checked to see how well each browser complies with today's most up to date and universal web standard: HTML 5. This "test" isn't a benchmark as such. It just shows how close each browser comes to being in sync with the HTML 5 standard. A perfect score, which no one got, would have been 550.

Chrome, 501, barely edged out Opera, 500 for the top spot. Firefox took third with 448. And, once more eating the dust of the others, came IE with 336.

The numbers make it obvious. When you replace IE 8, 9 or 10 on Windows 7, Chrome is easily the best choice. Opera, which has become the forgotten browser, also deserves some attention. Firefox, which has had more than its fair share of troubles, doesn't appear to be a good choice. And, IE 11 on Windows 7 just doesn't cut the mustard.

Of course, as Microsoft would be the first to tell you, if you upgraded your entire system to Windows 10, it might be a very different story. But, if like many people, all you want to do is to upgrade your browser and not your operating system, Chrome is your best choice.

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