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The Google home page serves as our test in the single-tab startup time test.
Starting with a single tab, Google Chrome takes the lead, followed closely by IE9. Firefox 6 is the first browser to take more than one second to start up, landing Mozilla a third-place finish. Safari 5.1 ups the game, leap-frogging Opera to take fourth.
In Mac OS X, Apple's own Safari reaches the finish line first, just a fraction of a second behind Chrome's winning Windows 7 time. Google still manages to grab second place on OS X in under one second. Firefox 6 again comes in third at over one second, very close to the Windows 7 run. Opera still places last.
We used the Top Eight websites (according to Quantcast) for our eight-tab startup time test. These sites include: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, Twitter, MSN, Amazon, and Wikipedia.
When starting with eight tabs, it's Opera that really shines, finishing in just under 1.5 seconds. IE9 comes in second place. Chrome 13 places third at just under four seconds, while Firefox 6 takes fourth at 4.25 seconds. Safari falls far behind the pack at just under eight seconds.
Using Lion doesn't change the finishing order one bit. Opera still turns in the best time. Chrome takes second place at 4.25 seconds, Firefox is in third with 4.5, and Safari again places last with 5.5 seconds.
All of the third-party Web browsers start up in approximately the same time, or slightly slower, in OS X. Safari is the exception. We start to see that Safari has significant advantages on its native platform, starting up about 25% faster.
The newer versions of Safari and Firebox seem to have helped Apple and Mozilla's startup times. However, with Chrome 13, the times are higher than they were in version 12.