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Microsoft Boasts Power Efficiency of Edge

| by David Iffland Follow 3 Followers on Jun 21, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

When the Windows 10 Anniversary Update lands, Microsoft says users of the Edge web browser will get a battery life boost.

In a blog post, Edge Program Manager Brandon Heenan says that, by using the Energy Estimation Engine service in Windows 10, they're able to see with incredible detail what causes power drain:

Have you ever wondered how many joules of energy are spent on JavaScript garbage collections every day? With this level of data, the tradeoffs around power become clear and intentional. With every Windows Insider flight, we compare our power consumption with past flights and released versions of Windows. We use this telemetry to ensure new features and code changes don’t increase our power consumption, and to validate new features designed to improve energy efficiency.

To improve the battery efficiency, Microsoft has made many changes to both their own code and the way 3rd party code runs. For example, in the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition of Edge, JavaScript running in background tabs will only get executed once per second and will be timed such that the tab doesn't unnecessarily wake the hardware.

They've also moved Flash to a separate process, pausing Flash content like ads and animations that aren't central to the experience (unlike a Flash video, which might be the primary content). Microsoft is also tweaking how the Edge UI itself works as well as using new Windows 10 networking improvements to waste less power doing unnecessary tasks.

In a separate blog post, Jason Weber says that, even today, "You can simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge than with Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows 10 devices."

Using a set of automated tests running against common sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon, Microsoft's benchmarks show Edge outperforming Chrome, Firefox, and Opera in power consumption. It's not clear which version of each browser was used, but the results show a noticeable difference in power efficiency.

In a separate test, Microsoft released a video that shows four Surface Book laptops running Windows 10 streaming the same HD video. In it, Edge lasted 70% (or over 3 hours) longer than Chrome and 43% longer than Firefox. Microsoft told InfoQ that the streaming demo was done using default settings on Netflix over WiFi with the display set to 75% brightness.

Users of Chrome have complained about its battery performance not just on the PC but on the Mac as well, so the news of Chrome's wastefulness isn't surprising.

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