Microsoft's new tactic to promote Edge is power efficiency

Microsoft claims its Edge browser uses less power than competing browsers on a Windows 10 device

Microsoft's new tactic to promote Edge is power efficiency
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has been anxious to goose interest in Edge, its replacement browser for Internet Explorer that ships with Windows 10. Thus far, while Windows 10 has piled up 300 million installs, it's offered no coattails for Edge. The latest numbers from Net Applications put Edge at just 4.99 percent share.

So, the company's newest tactic? Battery power. In a series of its own power consumption tests "in a controlled lab environment," combined with "the real-world energy telemetry from millions of Windows 10 devices," Microsoft claims you can "simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge" than with Chrome, Firefox or Opera on a Windows 10 device.

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In its test, Microsoft set up four identically configured Surface Books to power monitoring equipment, which ran a series of typical user activities, such as browsing sites, scrolling, opening new tabs and watching videos.

Microsoft said its tests showed that Edge is a more energy-efficient browser on Windows 10, with up to 36 percent to 53 percent more battery life, depending on the browser.

In addition to the tests, the company said the results of its laboratory testing were replicated in the aggregated telemetry pulled from millions of Windows 10 devices. You know, the spying we've all gone nuts about? So, telemetry from users backs the lab tests.

I can somewhat believe this. Chrome started out as a lightweight browser, but it has gotten very heavy in recent years. Every new tab means a new process in Windows. Open the Task Manager when you have a lot of tabs open, and you will see a bunch of chrome.exe tasks in the process window, along with a lot of memory being consumed.

In addition to the use test, Microsoft also streamed high-definition videos to the four Surface Books, and noted how long each device lasted before the battery ran out. Streaming high-definition video is definitely going to drain the battery. In testing the Opera browser, it enabled the browser's battery saver mode.

  • Microsoft Edge: 7h 22m 7s
  • Opera: 6h 18m 33s
  • Mozilla Firefox: 5h 9m 30s
  • Google Chrome: 4h 19m 50s

Microsoft concluded with the news that it is working on furthering the energy efficiency of Edge for the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update due late next month. These improvements listed in a separate blog post include:

  • More efficient background tabs: According to Insider feedback, background tabs in Edge use more CPU power than they would like, so Microsoft will reduce the execution of background JavaScript timers. This, it said in the blog post, results in energy savings "of over 90 percent in some scenarios."
  • Flash is more efficient: Flash should be taken out and shot, but Microsoft is keeping it around for now. Flash will run in a separate process in the Anniversary Update, and non-essential Flash content is paused by default.
  • A more efficient user interface for Edge: The browser's UI will be further optimized for power efficiency, right down to animations. One example is the Reading mode button, which will be totally redesigned, saving GPU cost by nearly 75 percent, saving the CPU cost by 100 percent and reducing the power impact to near zero.
  • More efficient Windows networking: The Anniversary Update delivers a range of networking improvements that improve performance and efficiency, while reducing power consumption, according to the company.
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