Windows 8 has been out for about a month now, and Internet Explorer 10 came along with it. Not only does IE10 have better standards support, but it features substantially better performance. The good news is that now those of us still using Windows 7 get to join in the fun thanks to the fact that Microsoft has just released IE10 on Windows 7 Preview. I’ve run some tests, and this is a substantial improvement from the previous version, but how does it compare to Chrome?
For this test, the lower the score the better. IE9 finished running the performance test in 814.4ms, give or take 0.6 per cent. Chrome 23 was able to complete it in just 183.2ms, give or take 1.7 per cent. Most impressively, IE10 was the fastest at a mere 127.2ms, give or take 1.5 per cent. IE10 bested Chrome by 56ms, but it absolutely destroyed IE9 by 687.2ms. That’s a huge difference that will make for much improved performance when using complex web apps.
HTML5 compliance is a bit hard to test because the W3C, the web standards body, has yet to agree on the complete specification. As of now, we’re working using its draft spec. Currently, the HTML5 Test is one of the best ways to test if your browser supports five hundred different HTML5 features as well as bonus features not defined in the spec, such as multiple codec support for video playback.
IE9 scored a measly 138/500 with five bonus points. Chrome 23 scored 448/500 with 13 bonus points. IE10 scored somewhere in between with 320/500 with 6 bonus points. The HTML5 Test is not perfect. It doesn’t test how well your browser performs its tasks, but it does check to see if your browser can perform them, so it’s good to know where your browser of choice stands.
In this test, Chrome 23 and IE10 go head-to-head with real-world load times. Using a stopwatch, I timed how long it took from pressing enter in the URL bar until a page was in a readable state with all of the text in place. I used three websites here, ExtremeTech, PCMag and Geek.com, and all were tested three separate times on both browsers, and then averaged out. On IE10, ExtremeTech loaded in 1.43 seconds, PCMag loaded in 2.00 seconds, and Geek.com loaded in 2.03 seconds. On Chrome 23, ExtremeTech loaded in 1.17 seconds, PCMag loaded in 1.50 seconds, and Geek.com loaded in 1.23 seconds. On average, Chrome loaded pages faster, but not by much. In fact, individual tests on the same browser varied more than the difference between browsers. In the real world, you won’t likely notice a difference in load times between either browser.
After seeing how well IE10 compares next to IE9 and Chrome 23 on Windows 7, the picture is clear. If you’re using IE9, drop it and move to the IE10 Preview. Chrome users, go ahead and try out IE10 to see if you like it. We’re finally getting close to the point where we can pick which browser we use simply based on personal taste instead of basing that decision solely on performance.
Much of the progress made can be attributed to Mozilla for using Firefox to light a flame under the browser industry, Google for picking up where Mozilla left off, and Microsoft for taking responsibility for the quality of its product at long last. Finally, Internet Explorer can hold its head high and compete head-to-head with other modern browsers.