Is Internet Explorer 9 Energy Friendly?

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 (IE 9) claims to conserve power in ways that no other modern browsers have before. The product team behind the software looked at three areas in order to try and optimize energy use – adapting PC hardware to accelerate IE 9, idle resource usage, and power management guidance settings.

The workers on IE 9 tested several scenarios with several different modern browsers using a instrumented Intel PC based on Calpella, the sixth-generation Centrino platform of mobile chipset, mobile processor, and mobile network. The PC was also fitted with Windows 7 before visiting both HTML 4 and HTML 5 websites. The team then looked at recorded power consumption, in watts, in relation to the system, CPU, memory, GPU, hard disk, LAN, uncore, USB, and network.

image via Microsoft

According to Microsoft, under idle or blank-page conditions, IE 9, Google Chrome, and Firefox 4 all use roughly the save amount of energy. When visiting a HTML 4 webpages, like popular news sites, IE 9 and Firefox 4 use roughly the same amount of energy, with Safari 5 using just a little more. HTML 5, widely considered the new standard for websites over Flash, caused the greatest power fluctuation, especially concerning the CPU. IE 9 used the lowest amount of energy, with Firefox 4 and Chrome coming in second and third, respectively.

IE 9’s ability to control CPU power use seemed to be a key factor in keeping overall energy use lower than the other browsers, but that could be because the team adapted the PC’s hardware to specifically increase the speed of the company’s software. As well, the tests only represent one type of highly modified computer using a single operating system, and obviously the testing does not apple to Apple products.

Finally, IE 9 claims to improve battery life, which makes logical sense if the browser is conserving power. As more and more work and entertainment switches from direct files to cloud-based systems, Internet browsers and the amount of power the software requires will dictate, in some ways, the overall energy efficiency of a computer. Does IE 9 do this? It’s difficult to say, but full details of the report can be found on the company’s blog feature about the testing process.

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Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.