In my personal browser benchmark test Internet Explorer 9 turned out to be much slower than Chrome 10.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Microsoft listens to their customers. Or perhaps I should say they listen to what the media tell their customers. Every week or so, another computer magazine or blog posted a new browser benchmark where Internet Explorer always came off as the slowest browser. The times of browser benchmarks are now history. Since Internet Explorer is now by far the fastest HTML viewer and JavaScript executer, no one needs those benchmarks any more. It is boring if Microsoft wins. They always do. Well, almost always.

Internet.Explorer.9.Logo Google.Chrome.Logo

As far as my browsing experience is concerned, Chrome is still a lot faster than Internet Explorer 9. When it comes to browsing speed, the performance of the rendering or JavaScript engine is negligible. I have said that many times before, and I won't get tired of repeating it. For a knowledge worker like me, other features are by far more important to speed up my daily work on the web.

1 Bookmarking

One of the things I do most often with a browser is to bookmark pages. I need to do this as quickly as possible so I won't lose my focus. With Internet Explorer, I need three clicks; with Chrome, just one. That makes Chrome 10 three times faster than Internet Explorer 9.

2 Bookmark star

Often, before I finish work, I check all open tabs to see if there are any pages that I might need the next day. Sometimes I don't remember if I already bookmarked a page or not. This also happens if I again stumble across a useful page. In Chrome, the star icon beside the address bar tells me immediately if I already bookmarked the page; a click on the star shows me which folder the bookmark is in. In Internet Explorer, I have to browse through my hundreds of bookmarks first for this purpose. This makes Internet Explorer a hundred times slower than Chrome.

3 Search in bookmarks

Again, the bookmarks. Well, they are important for a knowledge worker. Now, tell me, am I just blind or did the IE developers really forget the search function in the Favorites sidebar? I don't have to tell you how much time it can take to browse through all favorites until finally finding the important one I bookmarked last month, deep down in a folder where it doesn't really belong. How many times slower is Internet Explorer here? I don't know. Maybe indefinitely, if I don't find the bookmark at all.

4 Title bar

Okay, this is a minor issue. But it still bothers me. To place the tabs bar at the top of the browser was a very smart idea of the Google developers. Why was Microsoft too anxious to steal this feature and did just waste this valuable space in the title bar? Yes, it means only little additional space for the web page. However, if you work on laptop or netbook this little extra page can be very valuable, especially if you use web apps often. Scrolling a web page up and down to interact with the web app can get on your nerves and can slow down a browser considerably.

5 Tabs space

The size of the available space for tabs in Internet Explorer is much too small. It usually takes about 20 minutes on a normal work day before I have so many tabs open that I can no longer distinguish them in Internet Explorer simply because the visible part of the HTML title is too small. You can show the tabs on a separate row (right click a tab). However, this takes away even more valuable screen space. Since the default tab bar configuration is no option for a knowledge worker and taking into account the wasted space in the title bar, I have considerably less space available for the web page than with Chrome. These simple layout differences boost Chrome's performance with many web apps on devices with small screens and this without the need of fancy hardware acceleration.

6 Extensions

Browsers have become platforms. No, I am not talking about web apps. I don't really like those and you know that by now. I am talking about add-ons or extensions. I think, the number of available extensions is essential for the success of a browser. Microsoft is usually quite good when it comes to creating an ecosystem around a software product. Somehow they have problems with Internet Explorer here. The availability of just one add-on can be a killer feature if you can't find something comparable for an alternative browser (Internet Explorer). I don't really know how far ahead Chrome is here. But if I search for SEO add-ons for Chrome, I get about 100 hits. If I do the same for Internet Explorer, I get about 0 hits. There is no doubt that many of these little browsers helpers save me a lot of time which increases browser speed considerably.

7 Superbar

I don't really find the Windows 7 Superbar so super and in combination with Internet Explorer, it really gets on my nerves. Every time I switch back to the browser window, the Superbar shows me my myriad of open tabs and expects me to find the page by just looking at those super-tiny thumbnails. In most cases, I just want to access the last page viewed anyway. If I can't find the page in the thumbnails immediately, I just click any tab and then try to find the right tab in IE's tab bar. So this extra click-click-click game with the Superbar costs me significantly more time than in Chrome and often is the reason that I lose the focus on my work.

Update: This "feature" can be disabled: Internet Options > Tabs: Settings > Show previews for individual tabs in the taskbar*

8 InPrivate browsing vs. Incognito

InPrivate browsing in Internet Explorer and the equivalent Incognito feature in Chrome are useful features. I don't just use this feature if I want to browse a site without being recognized. Usually, when I log on to security-sensitive sites, I open the web site incognito so none of the many plugins I use gets a chance to snoop my password. What I miss here in Internet Explorer is being able to start InPrivate browsing by right-clicking a bookmark or a link in a web page. Yes, I can copy the URL, open an InPrivate window, and then paste the URL. In Chrome, this procedure can be accomplished with just a click. This is what I call browser performance.

9 Zoom

I read a lot and try not to strain my eyes too much. This is why I zoom almost every web page I open. Chrome definitely has the better and faster zoom function. It takes two "clicks" with the mouse wheel until the web page reaches the ideal size—that is, when it uses all available space of the browser window. With Internet Explorer 9, it usually takes much longer to get the font size I prefer. Again, Internet Explorer 9 came off last in an important browser benchmark discipline.

I am still a Microsoft fan boy. But it is not my fault that the Google guys just understand the web better. So I'll just wait for Internet Explorer 10 and see if it will be as fast as Chrome 25.

  1. Max 11 years ago

    I think Google should give you the GVP (Greatest Valuable Professional) as reward, did they?

  2. Max, I agree, but I think they are in a huff because of this.

  3. Rs 11 years ago

    IE9, Chrome? Are you kidding? Why do the pickle heads that like a browser with NOTHING dictate what the rest of us will get? A totally functionless browser like IE9 and I guess, it’s template chrome! Hey: Try browsing within a command prompt… Now that’s what I call a no frills browser experience. After 3 days of windows 7 and IE9 I’m ready to toss my lunch! I know, how about a blank page and no borders? Very clean! IE9 and apparently Chrome SUCK! Unless your a MAC geek.

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