Microsoft’s Edge browser has been trailing in terms of adoption and usage, even as Windows 10 has won increasing market share. The company has released an official report documenting the power efficiency advantages of using Edge, the new browser it debuted with Windows 10, partly in the hope of convincing more users to spend time with the application. Now, Redmond is claiming that Edge can deliver up to 70% more battery life than Google Chrome.
The team behind the metrics published a blog post in which they detail how Microsoft conducts its tests, as well as information on its power testing criteria and data on how it modifies platforms to measure instantaneous energy consumption. The video comparing power consumption using streaming video is below:
If you read over other blog posts, you’ll note that different scenarios present different comparison metrics for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera. Each browser’s performance varies depending on the specifics of the workload, but according to Microsoft, Edge is always the consistent winner.
Obviously, Microsoft is scarcely a neutral party on this front, but data from other parts of the web at least indirectly backs up the company’s claims. Tests performed at BatteryBox from last year showed that Chrome was often a battery hog on OS X as well. Several years ago, Google fixed a Chrome “feature” that set the system interrupt timer to tick at its lowest possible value across the entire operating system. This had a significantly negative effect on Windows battery life. Obviously other issues remain unresolved, and multiple articles have noted that Chrome doesn’t run particularly well on systems with relatively low-end hardware.
The battle between responsiveness and power consumption dates back at least as far as the introduction of Intel‘s SpeedStep technology. Early SpeedStep systems could lower their operating speeds to reduce power, but the first iterations of the technology could be thrown off and refuse to spin up its clock speed properly (or to reduce it when applicable). Power management on modern computers is now sophisticated enough that even the “Low power” option is often acceptably responsive (though this will vary depending on how many applications you juggle and what your use cases are).
In this day and age, the browser is the application that virtually every user runs on a daily basis, and therefore the single most important application when it comes to reducing overall system power consumption. Chrome has always been architected with speed and responsiveness in mind. That suited the browser extremely well when it was a young upstart challenging established platforms like Firefox or Internet Explorer. Based on battery testing from multiple sources, Chrome really does use more battery life.
Whether this will result in any changes to Chrome, on the other hand, remains to be seen. Microsoft didn’t get serious about fixing problems with Internet Explorer 6 until Firefox had already seized 13.5% of the browser market share (based on Net Applications’ reporting at the time). Chrome’s star has been ascendant for a number of years, at the expense of its competitors at Redmond and Mozilla — until that stops being the case, Google may feel it has no reason to respond to these allegations. Then again, given how important battery life is these days, the company would be foolish to ignore such an obvious performance issue.