PCworld’s Nick Mediati has done one of those flawed reviews that commits huge errors of omission. This occurs when comparing the three most popular browsers – Google Chrome 21, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, and Mozilla Firefox 15. The review is so incomplete it does browser users a disservice.
As you can see in the above screenshot, Chrome leads the parade, Firefox comes in second and IE9 lags way behind all the other browser vendors. This is typical of Microsoft IE where it has been behind the other browser in both performance speed and standards support. Just checkout the comparison of CSS2 and CSS3 support at wikipedia where Firefox Gecko leads while Chrome Webkit trail reasonably closely.
|Browser Speed Comparison|
|Test||Google Chrome 21||Mozilla Firefox 15||Microsoft IE 9|
|Local – website loadtime||7.9 second||8.0 seconds||8.6 seconds|
|Local – reload page||2.2 seconds||2.2 seconds||2.5 seconds|
|WebTest – website loadtime||6.9 seconds||7.0 seconds||7.4 seconds|
|WebTest – reload page||1.9 seconds||1.8 seconds||2.0 seconds|
|Webtest: Webpagetest.org, five repeats for local tests|
These tests do not include one of the fastest browsers I have found to date – Maxathon. But they do show that IE9 consistently underperforms the other two browsers with Google just nudging out Firefox. This is confirmed in the Tom`s Hardware tests:
But on memory usage, Chrome`s leading role is reversed. For memory use I defer to the following tests at ITWorld:
Unfortunately the version of the browsers is not the same as done in Nick’s tests; but they are from April of this year and show how memory usage is an important factor. It also reverses the order with Firefox using about 40% less memory than Chrome and IE9 again taking the last position.
Ease of Use
I won’t argue with the Nick’s assessment of basic ease of use – its a near tie. All of the browsers have stepped away from heavily iconbar loaded UIs [but you can add those on if you so desire]. The ability to go into full screen mode with F11 key, the ability to type in a search on the same line as the browser address, tab creation and manipulation – they are pretty close to identically the same with the exception of creating tab groups being unique in Firefox. But positioning and the shape of the refresh and bookmark buttons are needlessly different among all 3 browsers.
However another important aspect of ease of use is the availability of add-ons. And this is where Firefox easily out shines both Chrome and IE. Chrome’s set of add-ons has improved within the last year. And IE has one the best add-on management functions. But Firefox is chock full of useful add-ons so that users can customize Firefox for a range of important tasks. Again, Nick has omitted an important consideration for increasingly web oriented users.
Security and Reliability
Secunia reports the following on yearend 2011 for IE9
Advisories = 6 Criticality = High
Secunia report the following on year end 2011 for FireFox
Advisories = 14 Criticality = predominately High
Secunia report the following on year end 2011 for Chrome
Advisories = 28 Criticality = predominately High
Vulnerabilities = 321
So as a surprise IE9, despite the recent 5 extremely critical vulnerabilities, has the best security performance for 2011, according to the latest full year reports available from Secunia. Chrome, to my surrprise, has the worst record. And Firefox is distinctly better than Chrome but still has more than double the rate of problems that IE had in 2011.
However, the security clincher for this user is the fact that Chrome Sandbox security and reliability protection really works. There have been cases where security or reliability has brought a tabs session to an end but not all the other tabs. This happens 10-15 times per month but I run with many tabs open – currently 12. In contrast, I stay away from Safari and IE9 because multiple tabs and security-reliability problems can be complete disasters in these browsers.
In his review, Nick did not discuss the issue of reliability of the browsers. Admittedly it is difficult getting data rather than anecdotaly evidence. But a popular test is opening 40tabs in a browser. Being a heavy user of multi-tabs, I raely cross the 20 tabs line because of memory usage and deteriorating response time. But anumber of sites report the test results with IE9 failing the test and Firefox and Chrome vying for best results.
Tom`s Hardware has a Page load Reliability Test which is a basic indicator of reliability :
For this test, Opera emerges as the best browser with a virtual tie at much worse scores for all 3 main browsers. On MacOS opera again leads and Chrome is worst. But as a developer, I will tell you that IE9 and Opera lead in terms of number of bugs and workarounds required.
JDPower of car testing fame does a network telecom service reliability report – but does not have one for browser reliability. So browser reliability tests will remain somewhat adhoc.
As can be seen from this PC browser run through, Nick missed a lot of the details. First, the browsers reversed positions occasionally and having the MacOS results are enlightening – on almost every Web browser test MacOS performed notably worse than Windows 7 . Now in the Tom`s Hardware tests where identically the same hardware was used, just switching the OS, this points to a serious browser failing on MacOS. For a PC World writer this is a big miss.
Just as important, by omitting the Conformance, Reliability, and sufficient Performance tests, Nick misses the sad state that is IE9. – it is way back of the pack in these important tests. Yes, IE10 is testing out as a hot product but it will be restricted to Windows 8 and it still awaits rigorous test on Windows 8 against the other browsers which have some rumored surprises as well. Bottom line, Nick should just post a link to Tom`s Hardware comprehensive set of browser tests for the complete browser picture.