Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Head to Head: Chrome vs IE 8

by alec on September 2, 2008

The Googlers talk a good story, especially when it’s delivered as a “graphic novel” comic book, but now that the browser is available, how well does their story really stand up under scrutiny? After all, IE 8 claims many of the same benefits, including the isolation of processes to tabs.  Well, I set out to find out.

My setup is a quad core pentium system with 3G of memory and dual monitors.  On the left side, Chrome. On the right, IE 8.  

Test #1. Page rendering speed.  I chose the front page of CNET as my target, emptied caches, cookies, etc on both browsers, and then navigated to www.cnet.com.  Quel choque! IE 8 rendered the page in approximately six seconds.  Chrome?  A pokey 35 seconds. I redid the test several times to confirm.  It’s true.  Chrome beta is a web browsing model-T.  In fact, IE 8’s rendering times were comparable to Safari, Opera and Firefox.  It was only Chrome that sucked.

Test #2.  Javascript speed.  For this test I loaded up GMail – as Javascript heavy an application as there ever was. No surprise, Chrome won the day with it’s heavily optimized Javascript interpreter.  Nevertheless, the difference was close enough to be marginal — 4 seconds vs 6 seconds.

Test #3. Memory footprint. With Gmail and the CNET front page loaded into two tabs in each browser, both browsers were actually running 4 separate instances, proving the contention that both browsers isolate processes in tabs.  However, IE’s memory footprint was a beefy 195M, while Chrome’s was a comparably skinny 80M.

Test #4. Rendering.  For this test, I loaded the Calliflower application in both browsers.  Calliflower does some reasonably sophisticated things including pushing status to dynamically updating web pages.  Let’s just say that they both suck.  Whether it was mis-sized boxes in IE, or features that didn’t work in Chrome, neither one of these apps can render Calliflower as well as IE 7, Firefox 3, Safari or Opera.

The verdict?   Google had a great launch, filled with breathless oohing and aahing from the cognoscenti, but in the hard light of day I’d say the emperor has no clothes.  For now, I give the nod to IE.  It’s mostly faster, and a lot faster, even if it does consume a little more memory. 

UPDATE: An hour later, Jim Courtney phoned me up and we did the experiment again.  Mysteriously, whatever was blocking my rendering of CNET before has now resolved itself.  CNET renders consistently in 4 seconds now.  Computers!

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Squawk Box September 2, Chrome

by alec on September 2, 2008

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

This morning’s conference call was about Chrome… Google Chrome – the browser that’s due to be launched in a little over an hour.  The hyperbole is already flying thick.

The bottom line for our panel:

  • If it’s really a better browsing experience they’ll use it, of course!  Process segregation and faster Javascript support all sound promising.
  • Nobody is really sure what Google’s strategy is, but there are some intriguing unanswered questions around the fact that their desktop browser and the mobile browser on Android are both webkit based.
  • It’s not really an OS, despite the hype, although it represents the inclusion of operating system features in the browser.  That’s a major step forward in making the web the application platform of the future.
  • We loved the launch strategy.  It was effective and got everyone talking.

And in the process, we ended up getting nostalgic for the early days of multi-tasking on PC’s… only now it has come to the browser.

On this morning’s Calliflower Conference Call: Dan York, Jeanette Fisher, Bill Volk, Michael Graves, Sheryl Breuker, Jim Courtney, Jonathan Jensen, Warren Bent, Dan Rockwell, Jeb Brilliant, Dave Brown and Andy Abramson.

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Three reasons why Google Chrome isn’t a challenge to Microsoft’s OS business

September 2, 2008

stop with the hyperbole, already. Google Chrome will no doubt be a great browser. It’s not the second coming of Jesus Christ, and it’s definitely not a challenge to Microsoft’s operating system business.

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