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IE8: How Fast Is Fast Enough? - InternetNews.
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IE8: How Fast Is Fast Enough?

Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft feels that Internet Explorer, especially upcoming version 8, isn't getting the respect it deserves when it comes to talking about speed.

So IE officials have done what any good Web-savvy netizen might do -- they've made an online video demonstrating that IE8 is as fast as competitors.

In the video, and in an accompanying whitepaper, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) claims to demonstrate real world load times for 25 top Web sites on the Web. The load times had to be shot with a high-speed camera because many of the times were too quick for the human eye.

For instance, it took 0.28 seconds to load Google's home page in Google Chrome, 0.22 seconds in Mozilla Firefox, and 0.20 seconds for IE8. On the other hand, for Microsoft's home page, Chrome took 3.83 seconds, Firefox came in at 3.47, and IE8 was in the middle with 3.75 seconds.

The performance testing may still serve an important goal for Microsoft as it's preparing to publicly launch IE8. InternetNews.com reported last week that IE8 would be released to manufacturing in mid-March.

The focus on speed in particular should come as no surprise: Rivals like Mozilla and Apple have been crowing about the impressive performance of the upcoming editions of their Firefox and Safari browsers, while IE has long carried a reputation for being downright pokey.

In a public beta that began late last month, Apple claimed that Safari 4 would break speed records thanks to a new JavaScript engine called Nitro, which it said runs over four times faster than the engine in Safari 3.

Mozilla, meanwhile, has been hard at work on improving Firefox 3.1's performance courtesy of its TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. The 3.1 release of the browser entered its third beta this week.

Google, which has been pressing into the space with its Chrome browser, has also made a point of publicizing its speedy page rendering -- assertions that, like all of the browser vendors' competing claims, have come under fire from their rivals.

Interesting though Microsoft's results might be in its new video, the speed differences among three browsers from the top vendors -- IE8, Google Chrome 1.0, and Mozilla Firefox 3.05 -- are only sub-seconds apart.

In many cases, in fact, many of the tests yielded results that were just a few hundredths of a second apart -- crucial if you're an Olympic swimmer in the final heats, but possibly overkill for Web surfing.

The company's whitepaper explains Microsoft's testing methodology so that readers could run their own tests if they want, and presents the results of its own tests. It also presents tips for normalizing the browsers' initial state by, for example, pre-loading the browsers' page caches.

Microsoft's whitepaper also said that the company runs the tests on 25 different sites daily and "tens of thousands" monthly.