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Which Web Browser Is Best Under Windows 8?

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!

With composite scoring for each major test category, the Web Browser Grand Prix no longer needs the scoring system and weighting brackets it once had. The final score is now simply a geometric mean of the various benchmark results. This eliminates the arbitrary point system and creates accurate placing tied directly to the actual benchmark results. This also emphasizes the areas of testing which you, the readers, felt were most important, as well as decreases the ratio of performance- to non-performance-oriented metrics in our final score.

For those of you who still feel that the buck stops with performance, the next chart is for you. The performance index is a geometric mean of only the five performance categories: load time, HTML/CSS, JS/DOM, HWA, and plug-ins. This shows the relative performance placing of each browser, derived straight from the benchmark scores.

When looking strictly at performance, Firefox 16 manages to beat Chrome 23 on Windows 8 by a slim margin. This is most likely due to Chrome's strangely-long start times. Back on Windows 7, Chrome still holds the speed crown, this time with Firefox in tow. IE10 finishes strong in third place, almost doubling the performance of IE9 on Windows 7. That's not quite enough to keep up with the perpetually-updating browsers from Mozilla and Google, though. Opera ends up in a very distant last place on Microsoft's new OS, yet the Norwegian browser fares much better on Windows 8 than Windows 7.

Since we use the exact same test system and benchmark suite for both versions of Windows, we can now say that, no matter which browser you use, upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 results in a boost to Web browser performance, period.

Now, let's add the other four areas of testing to see the final outcome. The new championship placing includes all five performance categories, plus memory efficiency, render reliability, security, and standards conformance.

Upon adding the four non-performance metrics, Chrome takes the definitive lead in both operating systems. Firefox places second on both versions of Windows, ceding its performance lead and quite a bit more ground to Chrome in the areas of memory efficiency, security, and standards conformance. IE10 places third on its native Windows 8 platform. That's far from the show-stopping debut that bolstered IE9 just 18 months ago, but also a massive step forward from its predecessor's performance in Windows 7 today. Opera is sandwiched between the two versions of Internet Explorer, finishing last under Windows 8, but outperforming IE9.

So there you have it: Chrome is still king under Windows, and Windows 8 trumps Windows 7. Internet Explorer 10 yields massive improvements in nearly every measure, but it's just not the clean sweep that IE9 was when it debuted.

Although Chrome steals the day, Firefox is seriously eroding Google's hallmark speed advantage. What's more, Mozilla's new JavaScript engine is just right over the horizon. Can Firefox topple Chrome by virtue of its performance? When will Opera deliver the browser that version 12 was supposed to be? Stay tuned.

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