Microsoft’s pitch for the Edge browser usually starts with the improved battery life. Edge uses far fewer resources, directly affecting the power consumption. Less power consumption means longer battery life, and it’s also better for the environment.
Google, on the other hand, have said its Chrome browser is not as bloated as Microsoft makes it appear. The two giants have been hurling tests at each other with varying results. Of course, it’s hard to judge who is right, especially because these browsers get updates so frequently.
Starting with Chrome v57, Google’s browser will throttle individual background tabs “by limiting the timer fire rate for background tabs using excessive power.” In other words, Chrome will artificially limit the resources a background tab can consume.
This would result in poor performance for an individual background tab, but also better performance and battery life for the PC.
Chrome and many other browsers, including Edge, have throttled background tabs for many years, so this idea isn’t entirely new. What is new, however, is the policy.
Chrome v57 will adopt a new throttling policy where Chrome will attempt to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if a tab uses too much CPU while in the background. However, if a tab is playing audio or maintaining real-time connections via WebSockets or WebRTC, it will be exempt.
Google claims that this kind of throttling “leads to 25% fewer busy background tabs.”
The aggressive throttling in Chrome v57 will work, but it’s merely a band-aid. Today’s browsers are resource hogs, and power consumption is a very real problem with them. Thankfully, Google realizes this.
At some point, Google wishes to suspend background tabs entirely. Instead, it wants to build APIs for Chrome, allowing websites to create more efficient background workers.
These background workers will consume even fewer resources, but provide the same level of freedom and features available right now.
Chrome v57 is already available for the Beta channel. The stable release will happen sometime soon, and will silently roll out as they always do.
Mozilla’s Firefox 52 recently added support for Web Assembly, becoming the first browser to do so. Chrome v57 is also adding Web Assembly support.
Once Chrome v57 is rolled out, Microsoft’s Edge will be the only major browser that does not support Web Assembly.
Microsoft may or may not have an edge with performance and battery life, but it definitely is lagging behind when it comes to features.