MS Claims Link Between Browser Choice, Battery Life

Reducing mobile power consumption has been a top priority of the PC industry for years. Much of the work in this area has focused on hardware, but a recent post from Microsoft's IE blog raises the question of whether or not browser choice can make a difference in battery life*. It's not a question people would've considered for most of the past decade, but the advent of smartphones, hardware-accelerated browsers, and even netbooks have changed the way people prioritize battery life as a must-have feature.

Microsoft tested Chrome 10, Firefox 4, IE9, Opera 11, and Safari 5 in the following scenarios:
  • Windows 7 without any browsers running (provides baseline).
  • Browsers navigated to about:blank (power consumption of the browser UI).
  • Loading one of the world’s most popular news Web sites (common HTML4 scenario).
  • Running the HTML5 Galactic experience (representative of graphical HTML5 scenario).
  • Fish swimming around the FishIE Tank (what test is complete without FishIE).
Data for the individual tests can be found at the MSDN website; we've elected to graph the final battery test results. A number of Microsoft's graphs don't use zero as a starting point, thus allowing the company to make minor differences in performance appear significant.

Microsoft's total battery life graph, regraphed from zero.

Microsoft's test results imply that using Opera, Safari, and Chrome 10 is equivalent to pulling a few cells out of one's battery. That's not a conclusion we're willing to validate, particularly since Microsoft doesn't disclose certain pertinent test facts. Power consumption tests have become more important as users migrate to smaller, hand-held devices; evaluating the browser's impact is another logical step upon the same path.

Unfortunately, it's also significantly more complicated. The IE bloggers state: "We focused on making IE fast - the quicker a browser can perform an action the less power the browser will consume. We focused on using modern PC hardware to accelerate IE - natively using the specialized hardware decreases power consumption. We focused on idle resource usage - the browser shouldn’t be doing work and consuming power when the user isn’t interacting with the browser. And we focused on following device power management guidance - the browser should respect the guidance of the hardware manufactures."

The first assumption—namely that faster calculation saves power—is far from universally true. It's also important to isolate what plugins or third-party utilities might be causing Browser A to draw far more power than Browser B. The authors themselves note that Opera uses markedly more power than any other browser in one test because "Opera changes the system timer resolution from the default 15.6ms to 2.5ms which prevents the CPU from entering low power states." This type of error makes it difficult to draw an apples-to-apples comparison, though it presumably also pressures Opera (or any browser developer) to patch their code.
Via:  MSDN
omegadraco 3 years ago

So 10 minutes difference between firefox and IE is not significant in my opinion. The other thing to consider is they should have a chart for each type of task not just the final tally. If you were using a flash based website versus a text based website that will majorly effect your battery life.

3vi1 3 years ago

Note: 30 minutes of the IE9 time will be needed to figure out how that keylogger just stole your password while making it look like you were on a legitimate site:

HHGrrl 3 years ago

I'd be interested to see a neutral third party test these claims to see if the results are any different.

inspector 3 years ago

Hey "HH"Grrl :D, HH is very neutral, they won't go messing with the numbers or some unfair stuff :)

Ya, 10min difference between IE and Firefox isn't much. So go Firefox! :D

omegadraco 3 years ago

I agree HHgrrl a third party really would have to test this.

joel h 3 years ago

Inspector, I think she's saying she doesn't trust MS to provide these figures. We don't either. ;)

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="Joel H"]Inspector, I think she's saying she doesn't trust MS to provide these figures. We don't either. ;)[/quote]

Who wouldn't. I mean they didn't even give an accurate representation. If anything, Microsoft should of claimed that the rival browsers give you only 30 minutes of battery power while using it.

And IE... I'm guessing it'll last over 400 minutes, just because Microsoft says so.

realneil 3 years ago

Well, MS was all aglow when their brand spanking new IE-9 browser came out and had so many downloads,.........Then, that pesky FireFox 4.0 was released and had a crap-load more downloads, and in just a fraction of the time,.........

So this is "Plan-B",...................

rapid1 3 years ago

Inspector I don't think HHGrrl is saying that the site is not on the up and up here. The test came from M$ and I would think they would want to shed the best light on there browser. It is kind of like GPU tests done by Nvidia or AMD on there cards with "Special" software, generally referred to as cooking the numbers. I would like to see it to

infinityzen1 3 years ago

Although there might be (correction, most likely is) some cooking, I don't think it will be all that extreme. In fact, I think Mozillia and Microsoft are the only to companies that actually put some focus into power efficency in their desktop browser. If Opera fixed the bug in their code, they would have come out third.

I would like to see the test run by a third party as well. No plugins though, since some of them can cause issues. Noflash for example, if installed in Firefox. One of the test is to load a page with flash. Unless you disable Noflash, FF will win by a ton.

joel h 3 years ago


You've just smacked into the wall of practical benchmarking. You don't want plugins installed because they can cause issues and distort results. That's perfectly legitimate--but the overwhelming majority of users install Flash. You're forced to choose between a 'pure' test that doesn't reflect actual install bases or a muddier real-world test that runs the risk of being distorted.

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="Joel H"]You've just smacked into the wall of practical benchmarking.[/quote]

I suppose that flash and other add-on's could effect performance across browsers. One working better with one browser and not as well with another. While other add-on's doing the opposite. It would make it harder to keep it fair.

Luckily, most of us already have a favorite browser and associated add-on's too, and we stick to it unless it has problems.

InfinityzeN1 3 years ago

I think you miss understood me Joel.  I didn't say no Flash, I said 'NoFlash'.  If you have Firefox and don't install that, your crazy.

acarzt 3 years ago

So what you're saying is.... if the iPad 2 used IE9 instead of Safari.... it would get like 20 Hours of battery life instead of just 10.


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