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Which Web Browser Is Best Under Windows 8?

Which Web Browser Is Best Under Windows 8?
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Welcome to our first-ever Web Browser Grand Prix on Windows 8! Will Chrome remain the reigning Windows champion? Is Internet Explorer 10 going to smash the competition like its predecessor? Does Opera 12.10 finally deliver on what version 12 promised?

All of the top four Web browsers have received major updates since our last Web Browser Grand Prix. Today we're testing Chrome 23, Firefox 16, Internet Explorer 10, and Opera 12.10. And we're also passing the torch from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

The Infamous Windows 8 Start ScreenThe Infamous Windows 8 Start Screen

But before we get to the benchmark results, let's quickly brush over the Web browser news and events that transpired since our last installment.

Recent News And Events:

09/02/12: Google Chrome turns four years old.
09/06/12: Only 30% of Firefox users have hardware suitable enough for hardware acceleration.
09/13/12: Mozilla to launch new IonMonkey JavaScript engine in Firefox 18 on New Year's Day.
09/14/12: Google discontinues support for IE8 in Google Apps.
09/15/12: Google intends to add Do Not Track to Chrome by year's end.
09/20/12: Microsoft tells Safari users to switch to Bing after Google is found violating privacy settings.
10/09/12: Mozilla releases Firefox 16
10/11/12: Mozilla pulls Firefox 16 due to security concerns, temporarily urges users to downgrade.
10/26/12: Microsoft releases Windows 8, including Internet Explorer 10.
10/27/12: Yahoo intends to ignore Do Not Track requests from IE10, claims it shouldn't be the default.
10/30/12: Mozilla Sends Cake to Microsoft IE Team for IE10 Congrats
10/31/12: Mozilla says missing Browser Ballot screen cost them 6 to 9 million Firefox downloads.
11/06/12: Microsoft calls IE10 the fastest Web browser, cites New Relic, Strangeloop Networks, and Tom's Hardware's RoboHornet Pro results.
11/10/12: Mozilla claims Firefox 18 will decrease start times by up to 25%.
11/12/12: Google claims Chrome is 26% faster than last year, according to its own Octane benchmark.

As usual, it has been an eventful couple of months in the world of Web browsers, and Windows 8 shakes things up even more.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve published several stories covering Microsoft's latest version of Windows:

Windows 8 Versus Windows 7: Game Performance, Benchmarked
The Definitive Windows 8 Review And User Guide
Windows 8: Does AMD's Bulldozer Architecture Benefit?
Dell Shows Off Its Entire Windows 8-Based Fall Line-Up
Windows 8: Clarifying Codec, Compiling, And Compatibility
Microsoft Surface Review, Part 1: Performance And Display Quality
Windows 8: Double-Checking Performance On Core i7-3770K
Microsoft Surface Review, Part 2: Battery Life, Multi-Monitor, And More

Although Windows 8 didn't exactly do anything for the performance of productivity-oriented applications or gaming, and it didn't save AMD's FX. But we haven't yet seen how Microsoft's new operating system affects Web browsing.

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  • 16 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , November 19, 2012 4:37 AM
    Quote:
    And we're also passing the torch from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

    We are going to miss you on Web Browser Grand Prix, Windows 7
  • 12 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 3:59 AM
    Any technical reason why browser performs generally better in Win8 ? Even the 'WHQL' drivers from Nvidia and AMD arent quite mature for Win8.
    Games and applications did not show any improvement in Win8 over Win7.
  • 11 Hide
    randomizer , November 19, 2012 7:08 AM
    mayankleoboy11. IMHO, enabling these settings would have made Opera more competitive and this article fairer.


    Running every browser with its default configuration except one is not a fair test.
Other Comments
  • -8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 3:57 AM
    1. Did you ensure that Opera has Hardware acceleration and WebGL enabled in about:config ? AFAIk, Opera does not enable HWA by default.

    2. I find the over-reliance on "Internet Explorer Test drive" benchmarks disturbing. Most use code that is inefficient and not used anywhere else on the web, making it quite theoretical.

    3. +1 for using Google Octane benchmark. Both google and mozilla agree that this is a good real-world benchmark.

    4. Addition of the "Maze solver" benchmark is disappointing.

    5. Why remove the subjective smoothness ? 95% of the time, subjective smoothness is what lures a person to use a specific browser. People use a browser, not run benchmarks on it all day. Subjectively, no browser can beat Google Chrome. Then comes Opera , Firefox and far lastly, IE10.
  • 12 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 3:59 AM
    Any technical reason why browser performs generally better in Win8 ? Even the 'WHQL' drivers from Nvidia and AMD arent quite mature for Win8.
    Games and applications did not show any improvement in Win8 over Win7.
  • 10 Hide
    adamovera , November 19, 2012 4:23 AM
    mayankleoboy11. Did you ensure that Opera has Hardware acceleration and WebGL enabled in about:config ? AFAIk, Opera does not enable HWA by default.2. I find the over-reliance on "Internet Explorer Test drive" benchmarks disturbing. Most use code that is inefficient and not used anywhere else on the web, making it quite theoretical.3. +1 for using Google Octane benchmark. Both google and mozilla agree that this is a good real-world benchmark.4. Addition of the "Maze solver" benchmark is disappointing.5. Why remove the subjective smoothness ? 95% of the time, subjective smoothness is what lures a person to use a specific browser. People use a browser, not run benchmarks on it all day. Subjectively, no browser can beat Google Chrome. Then comes Opera , Firefox and far lastly, IE10.

    1) We use fresh installs at default settings; Opera does not enable HWA by default.
    2) The only IETestDrive tests we use are Psychedelic Browsing and Maze Solver, and IE regularly loses to competitors on both.
    3) Octane was not used because it had issues with IE9 and Opera 12.10.
    4) We definitely need a new CSS test, but the only other options are outdated or on IETestDrive - unfortunately, Kaizoumark doesn't work with IE10.
    5) It's really difficult to see that kind of stuff on a modern test system, but I will say that Chrome and IE10 are about equal in that department, with Firefox and Opera noticeably more choppy right at the beginning of the 40-tab load.
  • 7 Hide
    adamovera , November 19, 2012 4:34 AM
    mayankleoboy1Any technical reason why browser performs generally better in Win8 ? Even the 'WHQL' drivers from Nvidia and AMD arent quite mature for Win8.Games and applications did not show any improvement in Win8 over Win7.

    Not sure, the Nvidia drivers used were the same version on both OSes.
  • 16 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , November 19, 2012 4:37 AM
    Quote:
    And we're also passing the torch from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

    We are going to miss you on Web Browser Grand Prix, Windows 7
  • 2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 4:44 AM
    Quote:
    1) We use fresh installs at default settings; Opera does not enable HWA by default.
    2) The only IETestDrive tests we use are Psychedelic Browsing and Maze Solver, and IE regularly loses to competitors on both.
    3) Octane was not used because it had issues with IE9 and Opera 12.10.
    4) We definitely need a new CSS test, but the only other options are outdated or on IETestDrive - unfortunately, Kaizoumark doesn't work with IE10.
    5) It's really difficult to see that kind of stuff on a modern test system, but I will say that Chrome and IE10 are about equal in that department, with Firefox and Opera noticeably more choppy right at the beginning of the 40-tab load.



    1. IMHO, enabling these settings would have made Opera more competitive and this article fairer.

    3. Whoops, misread that. But this is a good benchmark. Robohornet and robohornet pro are complete jokes.
    4. Just exclude the maze solver. Its bad coding, as any web developer can tell you.
    5. Thats exactly what i'm saying. This needs to be factored in the overall score. You want the browser UI to always remain smooth. UI choppiness is unacceptable and sloppy coding. We are not living in the 90's anymore.


    The one thing i dislike in Chrome is the memory bloat when opening many tabs. In the 40tab test, FF uses 600 MB. Chrome uses 1600MB :o . That is probably an iverhead of using separate processes for each tab. That is excellent for smoothness and UI fluidity. But shameful for memory consumption. I guess devs need to find a middle path.
  • 5 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 4:57 AM
    Both 'mozilla kraken' and 'Google sunspider' benchmarks need to be retired . They are old, and all the major browsers have optimizations to score better on them.
    Plus, they heavily test features that are not used anywhere else on teh web.

    Example : Sunspider makes a billion manipulations to the the "date" variable. Mozilla did not have any optimization for this. So it scored poorly on Sunspider. After numerous 'review sites' started using sunspider to test FF Vs Chrome, mozilla developers had to reluctantly add the same optimisation (which is basically a separate buffer to store the date). Of course, nowhere on the web is the date variable used in this manner. So its optimization for an artificial test.
  • 1 Hide
    wilem_WAR246810 , November 19, 2012 5:15 AM
    "The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!" am I the only one who thought of Megadeth?
  • 3 Hide
    deepblue08 , November 19, 2012 5:18 AM
    mayankleoboy1Any technical reason why browser performs generally better in Win8 ? Even the 'WHQL' drivers from Nvidia and AMD arent quite mature for Win8.Games and applications did not show any improvement in Win8 over Win7.


    As far as I heard there are significant under-the-hood improvements in Win8, in terms of memory efficiency and multi-core usage.
  • 4 Hide
    epileptic , November 19, 2012 5:38 AM
    Is it Opera x64 or x86? I remember having tested Opera 12 and the startup was very slow. I'm still using 11.64 atm. The only thing keeping me from moving to Firefox is how sluggish the UI feels... I'd also have to find a new mail client. :/ 
  • 2 Hide
    adamovera , November 19, 2012 5:44 AM
    mayankleoboy11. IMHO, enabling these settings would have made Opera more competitive and this article fairer.3. Whoops, misread that. But this is a good benchmark. Robohornet and robohornet pro are complete jokes.4. Just exclude the maze solver. Its bad coding, as any web developer can tell you.5. Thats exactly what i'm saying. This needs to be factored in the overall score. You want the browser UI to always remain smooth. UI choppiness is unacceptable and sloppy coding. We are not living in the 90's anymore. The one thing i dislike in Chrome is the memory bloat when opening many tabs. In the 40tab test, FF uses 600 MB. Chrome uses 1600MB . That is probably an iverhead of using separate processes for each tab. That is excellent for smoothness and UI fluidity. But shameful for memory consumption. I guess devs need to find a middle path.

    Chrome scales quite nicely to the available memory, it doesn't need the 1.6 GB to display all those tabs, it just uses that much on a system with tons of spare memory. We saw that Chrome can get by with just 450 MB on an XP-based beige box with only 768 MB total system memory.
  • 6 Hide
    adamovera , November 19, 2012 5:47 AM
    wilem_WAR246810"The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!" am I the only one who thought of Megadeth?

    LOL, there's a good chance that Megadeth was playing in a YouTube tab while I was doing the final layout for this article.
  • 2 Hide
    adamovera , November 19, 2012 5:50 AM
    epilepticIs it Opera x64 or x86? I remember having tested Opera 12 and the startup was very slow. I'm still using 11.64 atm. The only thing keeping me from moving to Firefox is how sluggish the UI feels... I'd also have to find a new mail client.

    32-bit, they're all 32-bit.
  • 11 Hide
    randomizer , November 19, 2012 7:08 AM
    mayankleoboy11. IMHO, enabling these settings would have made Opera more competitive and this article fairer.


    Running every browser with its default configuration except one is not a fair test.
  • 2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , November 19, 2012 7:09 AM
    adamovera32-bit, they're all 32-bit.

    Yes and this is unfortunate. We need more competition in the 64-bit browsing world. I currently use Waterfox. It's only other competition (that I'm aware of) is IE 64-bit.
  • 0 Hide
    stairmand , November 19, 2012 7:18 AM
    Would have been nice to include some fatures, the Pinch to Zoom on IE 10 makes that a winner for multi-touch ebnabled systems on its own.
  • 0 Hide
    assafbt , November 19, 2012 7:26 AM
    Ok, perhaps I missed something about the new composite scoring, but what I am always interested in is solely which browser has the least weak performances & behaviors, not really interested in who is good or best. With the new scoring we went back quite a bit, or am I missing something?
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 19, 2012 7:32 AM
    JOSHSKORNYes and this is unfortunate. We need more competition in the 64-bit browsing world. I currently use Waterfox. It's only other competition (that I'm aware of) is IE 64-bit.


    In most of these 'benchmarks', which basically run a few tight loops a gazillion times, 64 bit browsers will perform worse than 32 bit.
    Plus, Visual Studio 2010, on which all these browsers are compiled, does not many of the performance optimisations for 64 bit code.
  • 3 Hide
    Cryio , November 19, 2012 9:12 AM
    adamovera32-bit, they're all 32-bit.


    False, IE10 RTM on Windows 8 x64 is a 64 bit browser.
  • 2 Hide
    Cryio , November 19, 2012 9:13 AM
    mayankleoboy1In most of these 'benchmarks', which basically run a few tight loops a gazillion times, 64 bit browsers will perform worse than 32 bit. Plus, Visual Studio 2010, on which all these browsers are compiled, does not many of the performance optimisations for 64 bit code.


    Well, hopefully things change now with the release of Visual Studio 2012.
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