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article imageMicrosoft again taunts rivals with Edge battery life claims

By James Walker     Sep 15, 2016 in Technology
All the major desktop browser vendors have engaged in a heated "battery war" in recent months, each claiming their browser is the most power efficient. Microsoft is now once again stating that Edge offers the best performance, leading to more controversy.
In June, Microsoft published a blog post that appeared to prove Edge offers 50 percent more battery power than Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Naturally, Google and Mozilla weren't too pleased by the claim. Opera suggested Microsoft's testing techniques were flawed, assuring users its browser was actually the winner. It conducted its own tests that, inevitably, proved its claim. Google later followed suit.
Fast forward a few months and Microsoft has returned. On the back of the recently launched Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the company is claiming that Microsoft Edge now offers as much as 69% more battery life than the competition. The browser has been tuned for power efficiency, including improved background tab management, reductions in Flash's power consumption and optimisations to Windows' system-level networking.
Describing Edge as "more efficient than ever," Microsoft has run updated tests on Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. The results were predictably favourable for Edge. The browser was 24 percent to 43 percent more efficient than Microsoft's rivals in general browsing, and 23 percent to 69 percent more efficient when streaming video.
Microsoft s updated Edge battery performance claims
Microsoft's updated Edge battery performance claims
Microsoft took the latest versions of each browser, left the settings at default and ran them on one of its own factory-fresh Surface Book laptops. Power saving modes that are usually enabled by default, such as Opera Battery Saver, were left turned on. Microsoft said it views this as a fair and open approach to testing battery performance but invited outsiders to weigh in with their own opinions.
Microsoft repeated the same tests as before, coming up with largely the same results. In the Netflix streaming test, Firefox was the first to bow out after five hours, 11 minutes and 34 seconds. Chrome came next, at just over six hours, followed by Opera at seven hours and eight minutes. Edge lasted for almost eight and a half hours, depleting the battery in eight hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds.
Microsoft acknowledged the uproar its last blog post created, saying it is "thrilled" to have created the current "spirited debate". The new test took the responses of the competitors into account but was still based on the same methodologies as before. In anticipation of creating the same controversy again, the company has published a detailed explanation of how it tests battery life with a justification for its methods.
Microsoft s updated Edge battery performance claims
Microsoft's updated Edge battery performance claims
It said its lab tests simulate "common real-world activities" including searching, video playback, shopping and reading email. Multiple tabs are used actively and in the background to simulate a natural browsing session for every kind of user. Power consumption is computed using hardware monitors attached to each individual device.
To back up the lab tests, Microsoft also includes aggregated data collected from telemetry outputs from the millions of Windows 10 devices in use worldwide. According to Microsoft's graphs, this real-world data is consistent with the results of the lab benchmarks, giving it the confidence to make its bold claims.
"From the moment we decided to revisit our tests, we were committed to measuring real-world scenarios with a completely transparent methodology," said Microsoft. To back up our results, we’re open sourcing our lab test on GitHub and publishing the full methodology for our video tests, so anyone can see the setup and even reproduce the tests independently."
Microsoft s updated Edge battery performance claims
Microsoft's updated Edge battery performance claims
The company invited people to contribute to the discussion, whether they agree with or contest its views. To this end, it has open sourced its battery tests and uploaded them to GitHub. This allows anyone to run the lab test on their own devices, externally validating Microsoft's results. It has also written a full methodology evaluation for its video streaming tests.
While the "battery war" may seem trivial from the outside, consumers should hope it continues for as long as possible. All the major browser vendors have become passionately involved in a debate that directly improves the experience of users. The browser is often the most-used program on a device, making tangible battery life improvements beneficial to millions of people.
The quest to improve the power efficiency of web browsers is now healthier than it has ever been, due to the competition created by the antagonistic claims of each vendor. A fresh response from Google, Mozilla and Opera is likely, inspiring further improvements in all four browsers.
More about Microsoft, microsoft edge, Edge, Web browsers
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