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Opera repudiates Microsoft Edge battery-saving claims

Wed 22 Jun 2016

The browser-maker Opera has negated Microsoft’s much-publicised claim that its Windows 10-exclusive Edge browser provides significantly less battery drain than competitors Chrome and Opera – and its own tests put Edge firmly in second place for battery efficiency.

In a post at the Opera blog today, Błażej Kaźmierczak reveals the result of the company’s own tests, which put Google Chrome in third place at two hours and fifty-four minutes, Edge in second at three hours twelve minutes, and Opera ahead of that by obtaining three hours and fifty-five minutes of battery life under identical tests.

opera-claimsHowever this is not purely a test of browser efficiency – in March Opera instituted a native adblocking feature which it claimed works 45% faster than analogous plugins on either Chrome or Firefox. The feature does not merely hide downloaded and rendered ad elements, but prevents them engaging with the user at URL source – a significant advantage in terms of page rendering.

Although AdBlock Plus is available for Edge, along with other solutions, Microsoft has no public plans to mirror the adblocking feature, and it is difficult to tell how well Opera would fare even in its own tests if it had to render networked marketing material.

According to the post today, Opera has not paid much attention to Edge due to its exclusivity to the Windows 10 platform. Though Edge is currently estimated to have less than 5% share in the browser market (versus 50% across versions of Chrome), this still puts it ahead of Opera, which carries little more than 1% of share, according to the estimates.

Today’s post accuses Microsoft of a lack of transparency in its testing methods for a result which it has gained much positive publicity from, and notes that Opera’s own repudiating test, which puts its developer version 22% ahead of Edge, runs a more standard gamut, using a variety of types of browsing situations, including video and news, along with an algorithm to effect authentic scrolling behaviour (a weak point for Firefox which is now being addressed).

Among the non-adblocking tricks that Opera is using to optimise its performance, the browser reduces activity in background tabs, optimise JavaScript timers to limit CPU access, pauses dormant plugins, reduces video frame rates to 30fps and forces hardware acceleration of video playback where feasible.

Microsoft’s claims for Edge were carefully specific to Windows 10, with the lauding blog post stating ‘You can simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge than with Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows 10 devices.’ Its claims of market-leading performance were backed up by the Wall Street Journal early in May, though forum critics have observed that it’s easy for a low-featured browser to remove ‘useful’ overhead and gain performance, but not necessarily the best solution for the end-user.


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