IE trails browser benchmarks

January 30, 2009 // 10:05 a.m.

Tags: #benchmarks #chrome #firefox #firefox-31 #ie8 #internet-explorer #javascript #safari #sunspider #zdnet

Vindication for anyone who ever tried to convince friends and family to switch away from Internet Explorer came this week, courtesy of a series of benchmarks showing the latest version of the browser up as an extremely poor performer.

ZDNet's Alex Serpo and Chris Duckett carried out a series of benchmarks on the alpha and beta releases of the next generation of web browser, and the graph they've build makes interesting reading.

Using the popular Sunspider JavaScript benchmark suite – which cycles through a range of common JavaScript operations, including 3D rendering and AES encryption – the pair ran five next generation web browsers through their paces: Opera 10 Alpha, Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1, Firefox 3.1 Beta 1, Chrome 2.0.158.0, and the Webkit r40220 engine on which it's based. While Internet Explorer's place in the rankings – dead last – won't surprise many, the rather poor showing by Opera's latest and greatest may shock some, especially given its reputation as a fast and efficient browser.

Internet Explorer 8 – which will be the default web browser provided by Windows 7 by Microsoft – fared poorly at the test, taking over four seconds to complete the test. By comparison, Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 took well under two and a half seconds. The Webkit engine also acquitted itself well, completing the test marginally faster than Firefox; strangely, Google's Chrome browser – which is based on the Webkit engine – managed to perform even better, headlining the benchmark at just over a second.

It's bad news for Opera, however: the latest alpha build of the Opera 10 took almost as long as Internet Explorer to complete the test suite. While that's a poor showing for a browser which has always prided itself on speed and adherence to strict web standards, it can perhaps be explained away as being the only alpha build in a crowd of betas and release candidates. Hopefully the company will have the performance issues fixed when version 10 gets released to the general public.

Aside from the surprising result for Opera, the tests show what many readers will have come to suspect: pretty much any browser other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer will vastly improve your web experience – at least, if you use JavaScript a lot.

Mac users feeling left out by the lack of Safari in the test suite can be assured that it was likely to rank pretty highly – Apple's browser uses the same open-source Webkit engine as test winner Chrome.

Pleased to see your browser of choice thrashing the monopolistic competition, or are you an Opera fan looking for answers as to the poor performance of the alpha release? Are these results still not enough to convince you to move away from Internet Explorer? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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