Microsoft Edge Browser Retains Battery Life Crown, But Will Chromium Shift Wreck That Advantage?

Microsoft Edge
Microsoft may have hoped that its Edge browser for Windows 10 would come to dominate Chrome and Firefox, but that never came to be, and never will, at least not in its current form. Instead, the Redmond outfit recently announced plans to overhaul Edge and rebuild it around Chromium, the same platform that powers Chrome. Interestingly, however, Microsoft can (and does) claim a victory over its rivals in the browser space.

It has nothing to do with market share, as Firefox and especially Chrome are both more widely used than Edge, according to data collected by places like Net Applications and Stat Counter. Where Microsoft claims its victory is in battery life.

"The Microsoft Edge team measured the time it took identical Surface Book laptops to run fully through their batteries while streaming HTML5 video in full screen. The test was done with Windows build 17763 and connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi, and multiple samples were taken," Microsoft states on GitHub, the open source repository it purchased for $7.5 billion.

Build 17763 is the the version of Windows with the October 2018 Update installed. According to Microsoft's own testing, Edge lasted on average 24 percent longer than Chrome, and a whopping 94 percent longer than Firefox.

From our vantage point, the settings Microsoft used for its battery life tests look sound. Microsoft set the display brightness to 50 percent, muted the volume, disabled things like Bluetooth and Location, set Windows Battery Saver mode to activate at 20 percent battery, disabled Windows Update, and cleared the cache of each browser, among a few other parameters.

"The laptops were allowed to play video until all of them had lost power. After the power had run down and the laptops had shut off, power was restored. Run-time and power consumption data was then collected by running 'powercfg /spr' and opening the generated report," Microsoft says.

Edge was able to play a video for a little over 16 hours using these settings, compared to under 13 hours for Chrome and a bit over 8 hours for Firefox.

We find the results to be surprising, mainly because the gap in battery life is significant. That's a major bragging point. As such, it will be interesting to see what effect overhauling Edge with Chromium's DNA will have on battery life, compared to what it is now.