In case you haven’t heard by now Microsoft has released the latest version of Internet Explorer now at version 8.0. There are a few new toys to play with in it such as the addition of “Accelerators” and some security “improvements,” but the most important feature of a browser to me is speed, and IE8 utterly fails in this department.
Take other browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari 4.0 beta. All of them have long been proven to be faster than IE8 in just about every single benchmark known to man and even in most practical tests.
What’s Wrong with Microsoft?
I don’t really understand why Microsoft with all its resources can’t make a secure, fast browser like all the other companies can. Google and Apple both have (essentially) the same resources available to them as Microsoft, so the playing field is more or less even. Yet, Redmond couldn’t kick out a fast browser with the proverbial gun pointed at it’s giant corporate head.
If you asked me, I would say Mozilla is a bit more limited on resources than the other companies, and yet it also turns out a fast and secure browser. I’m not saying any browser is perfect on the security side. It does take some common sense to keep yourself safe online and all browsers have security holes, but Microsoft is one of the worst.
This is About Speed Not Browser Security
This post is not about discussing the finer points of browser security but rather speed. It’s important for a browser to be fast and mix in some security without being bogged down by it.
Broswer Benchmarks with SunSpider
I decided to check out how Safari 4.0 compared with IE8 in the Sun Spider benchmark. As you can see below, Safari 4.0 completely and utterly destroyed IE8 leaving it in the dust. As if that wasn’t enough of a massacre, I decided to run comparisons between IE8, Opera and Chrome and Firefox. The two losers here are IE8 and Opera, by far the slowest of the crowd.
Even still, Opera is almost as twice as fast as IE8. The two losers, lose by a lot. Now, let’s look briefly at the leaders where there isn’t a large margin of difference. Chrome is the fastest, Safari was slower than Chrome but not by a whole lot and Firefox was slower than Safari also not by a lot, but Firefox is almost twice as slow as Safari. If that confuses you, the breakdown of speed from fastest to slowest is as follows:
This is not meant to be the end all be all of browser benchmarks and can be affected by other things such as the specs of the computer it is being run on and the Internet connection. But it should be possible to obtain similar results even if your scores come out being a bit slower or faster.
My pick for a browser is Safari 4.0 either on a PC or Mac. It’s fast, relatively secure and has a mix of features and speed that I find attractive. Yes, it does crash on occasion but it’s not enough enough to bug me to death. IE8 is quite annoying as it seems to crawl at a snails pace.
However, Google wins the speed test but is lacking in the features department. Safari 4.0 and Google Chrome will be permanent installments on my computer. It’s too bad I can’t uninstall IE8 (and I don’t just mean reverting back to IE7). I know, it is possible to uninstall the thing if you REALLY want to but I don’t want to risk turning my PC into a giant brick by doing so.
By the end of the test, IE8 was just a smoldering left over ruin that not even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could put back together again.