The Browser Wars II

July 29, 2010, 4:08 IST

Soumya Deb

No more than four months ago, Opera released its version 10.50 of Opera desktop browser with a claim of being the fastest web browser on Earth. We, here at ThinkDigit, quickly decided to put that claim to test. The game became interesting with a tug-of-war between Google Chrome and Opera, and it was tough to determine a clear winner. If you've missed that round of The Browser Wars then, click here and enjoy the bloodshed!

Since then, a lot has changed, and the goal posts have been moved. This time the situation is a little different. We are watching Microsoft roaring with Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla reforming the Firefox browser, consecutive sixes from Opera, and a steady pace set by the already blazing Google Chrome - it's really too much of a thrill to miss. Everyone is desperate to change the colour of the web with their own hue, taking byte size chunks off the browser pie.

With all the browsers delivering most of the needed features, the need for speed is taking a backseat -- not that speed isn't important but that almost all the browsers are fast enough. What we are expecting more out of a browser is the support for the new-age web standards, and less complicated browsing experience while browsing sites which have HTML5, CSS3 features within. There is no doubt that the craze of HTML5 is accelerating, and so it is for CSS3; JavaScript and next-gen DOM handling are also the mighty measures. But which browser is going to provide the most support for the upcoming web technologies and standards, and that too before all others? That is the billion dollar question, and the battle to conquer that throne has already begun. No one is even waiting for the HTML5 spec to finish!

Hence, while the browser war is steaming once again, we have geared up to determine the King of the web standards, and ability is the prime concern this time, not the speed alone.

We have selected a few tests, which primarily focus on HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript supports and abilities, a few tests are taken from our previous attempt which meet the prerequisites. There will be Acid3 tests, Dromaeo tests and PeaceKeeper benchmarking suite as we had before, along with a few new tests i.e. CSS3, HTML5 tests and four selected test demos from IE9 testdrive site. These tests will be used for benchmarking, now let's take a look at the browsers we will be testing out.

The Titans and Olympians of the battleground are as follows:

Browser Build Version
Internet Explorer Stable 8.0.7600.16385
Platform Preview 9.0.7874.6000
Safari Stable 5.0.7533.16
Opera Stable 10.60
Beta 10.70
Chrome Stable 5.0.375.99
Dev 6.0.458.1
Firefox Stable 3.6.6
Beta 4.0b1
Nightly 4.0b2pre
*** N.B.: While we were testing, version upgrades rolled out for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
But, all of those were bugfix releases for unstable dev and nightly versions,
would have little or no impact on browsers' performances.

Same as before, our test rig is a regular laptop which is a very able one for web surfing, but no better than that. It uses an Intel Core Duo T2300 processor hosted on a compatible 945G chipset mainboard; it has 1x2GB DDR2 667MHz RAM and Intel GMA950 as graphics processor. We used Windows 7 as the operating system for the test rig. We intentionally didn't include a high-end rig, to match the system specification with most of the cyber-dwellers.


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