Chrome eats up to 70% more battery power than Edge browser, Microsoft claims

Microsoft is crowing about Edge browser battery-saving capabilities, claiming you can surf longer while unplugged as it has '17-70% more battery life' than Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

Edge uses less battery power
Credit: Microsoft

Do you use Microsoft Edge, the default browser included in Windows 10? Some people have used it once, to go get another browser version and download it. But if you want your laptop to last longer before you need to plug it in, then use Edge for your surfing – or so claims Microsoft.

Microsoft really wants you to use to Edge and this time, before the Anniversary Update rolls out, the company is crowing about how Edge uses less battery than any other browser.

Microsoft backed up Edge power-saving capability claims by three separate tests. The first measured browser power consumption in a controlled lab environment. The second involved super-snooping on users, worded as “real-world energy telemetry” collected “from millions of Windows 10 devices.” The third comes along with a time-lapse video of four identical laptops streaming the same video via four different browsers until the battery dies.

The lab environment test used Surface Books browsing with Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera. Each device completed the same tasks, “opening websites, scrolling through articles, and watching videos, opening new tabs for each task. We used the same websites you spend your time on – Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia and more.”

Power consumption by browser Microsoft

The tests showed Edge as the most energy efficient browser on Windows 10 “with up to 36%-53% more battery life to get what you need done.”

The second test relied on telemetry. “These numbers are from actual Windows 10 use ‘in the wild,’ not artificial tests or hypotheses,” wrote Jason Weber, Microsoft Edge web platform team director. He added, “The billions of data points from these devices are consistent with the lab results, demonstrating that Microsoft Edge is more efficient in real-world, day-to-day use than the competition:”

Average power consumption by browser Microsoft

At the start of the year, Microsoft claimed Windows 10 users spent 44.5 billion minutes using Edge in just one month. It was the same post with telemetry stats that set off more privacy concerns as the number of questions asked of Cortana, the amount of Bing searches, the number of photos viewed via the Windows 10 photo app and even the billions of the hours spent gaming were included in the data Microsoft collected from Windows 10 users.

Despite those “billions of minutes” in a mere month, Microsoft’s Edge browser barely registers a blip on browser stat analytic reports. Net Market Share shows 4.99% of surfers used Edge in May 2016, 2.7% of surfers visiting U.S. government websites over the last 90 days used Edge, and StatCounter Global Stats put Edge usage at 2.54% so far this month.

Browser usage for June 2016 StatCounter Global Stats

While Chrome is eating Microsoft’s lunch when it comes to browser usage, Chrome is also a power-hungry, battery-eating hog eating your lunch if you are unplugged. In the battery life experiment, Chrome crapped out first, draining the battery in about four hours and twenty minutes; doing the exact same task, Microsoft Edge lasted over seven hours. In other words, Edge ran 70% longer than Chrome, 43% longer than Firefox and 17% longer than Opera.

The results speak for themselves: Microsoft Edge outlasts the rest, delivering 17%-70% more battery life than the competition.

A second post on the Microsoft Edge Developer blog goes into more details about how Microsoft measures energy efficiency through customer telemetry. Brandon Heenan, Edge Program Manager, explained:

Some of our most important insights come from aggregated data from millions of Windows devices reporting billions of data points around Microsoft Edge’s energy efficiency to Microsoft on a monthly basis. We particularly pay attention to telemetry coming from systems with specialized hardware measurement – you just can’t beat 98% accuracy.

Additionally, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will include even more energy efficient improvements such as to background tabs, Windows networking, the Edge user interface, and even Flash – but yikes, haven’t you kicked that highly exploitable app to the curb yet? Regarding the improvements to background tabs, Microsoft said, “Savings vary depending on the websites you have open, but we’ve seen energy savings of over 90% in some scenarios.”

Google has attempted to make Chrome more efficient; Opera recently came out with a new battery-saving mode so users can “browse up to 50% longer.” It remains to be seen if Edge will fare any better usage stats after the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but Microsoft seems determined to make it so by launching its better battery life campaign.

And users of the free Windows 10 tool, Refresh Windows – which is supposed to wipe crapware from machines, will need to reinstall applications and drivers, meaning Edge will surely be opened at least once – even if that is to download a different browser. Maybe some of those users will switch to Edge when they are out and about, unplugged, to see if it really does slurp less battery power?

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