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Category: Microsoft Edge

Up next for WebXPRT 4: A new AI-focused workload!

We’re always thinking about ways to improve WebXPRT. In the past, we’ve discussed the potential benefits of auxiliary workloads and the role that such workloads might play in future WebXPRT updates and versions. Today, we’re very excited to announce that we’ve decided to move forward with the development of a new WebXPRT 4 workload focused on browser-side AI technology!

WebXPRT 4 already includes timed AI tasks in two of its workloads: the Organize Album using AI workload and the Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan workload. These two workloads reflect the types of light browser-side inference tasks that have been available for a while now, but most heavy-duty inference on the web has historically happened in on-prem servers or in the cloud. Now, localized AI technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and the integration of new AI capabilities with browser-based tasks is on the threshold of advancing rapidly.

Because of this growth, we believe now is the time to start work on giving WebXPRT 4 the ability to evaluate new browser-based AI capabilities—capabilities that are likely to become a part of everyday life in the next few years. We haven’t yet decided on a test scenario or software stack for the new workload, but we’ll be working to refine our plan in the coming months. There seems to be some initial promise in emerging frameworks such as ONNX Runtime Web, which allows users to run and deploy web-based machine learning models by using JavaScript APIs and libraries. In addition, new Web APIs like WebGPU (currently supported in Edge, Chrome, and tech preview in Safari) and WebNN (in development) may soon help facilitate new browser-side AI workloads.

We know that many longtime WebXPRT 4 users will have questions about how this new workload may affect their tests. We want to assure you that the workload will be an optional bonus workload and will not run by default during normal WebXPRT 4 tests. As you consider possibilities for the new workload, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • The workload will be optional for users to run.
  • It will not affect the main WebXPRT 4 subtest or overall scores in any way.
  • It will run separately from the main test and will produce its own score(s).
  • Current and future WebXPRT 4 results will still be comparable to one another, so users who’ve already built a database of WebXPRT 4 scores will not have to retest their devices.
  • Because many of the available frameworks don’t currently run on all browsers, the workload may not run on every platform.

As we research available technologies and explore our options, we would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for an AI workload scenario that you think would be useful or thoughts on how we should implement it, please let us know! We’re excited about adding new technologies and new value to WebXPRT 4, and we look forward to sharing more information here in the blog as we make progress.

Justin

Comparing the WebXPRT 4 performance of five popular browsers

Every so often, we like to refresh a series of in-house WebXPRT comparison tests to see if recent updates have changed the performance rankings of popular web browsers. We published our most recent comparison last February, when we used WebXPRT 4 to compare the performance of five browsers on the same system.

For this round of tests, we used the same Dell XPS 13 7930 laptop as last time, which features an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM, running Windows 11 Home updated to version 23H2 (22631.307). We installed all current Windows updates, and updated each of the browsers under test: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 4 three times on each of the five browsers. The score we post for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, the range between high and low scores was tight, with an overall difference of only 4.3 percent. Edge squeaked out a win, with a 2.1 percent performance advantage over Chrome. Firefox came in last, but was only one overall score point behind the tied score of Brave and Opera.

In this round of testing, the rank order did not change, but we saw more differentiation in the range of scores. While the performance of each browser improved, the range between high and low scores widened to a 19.1 percent difference between first-place Edge and last-place Firefox. The scores of the four Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Opera, Chrome, and Edge) all improved by at least 21 points, while the Firefox score only improved by one point. 

Do these results mean that Microsoft Edge will always provide a faster web experience, or Firefox will always be slower than the others? Not necessarily. It’s true that a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily web activities than one with a much lower score, but your experience depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, along with your system’s privacy settings, memory load, ecosystem integration, extension activity, and web app capabilities.

In addition, browser speed can noticeably increase or decrease after an update, and OS-specific optimizations can affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 11 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how WebXPRT results may translate to your everyday experience.

Have you used WebXPRT 4 to compare browser performance on the same system? Let us know how it turned out!

Justin

Comparing the performance of popular browsers with WebXPRT 4

If you’ve been reading the XPRT blog for a while, you know that we occasionally like to revisit a series of in-house WebXPRT comparison tests to see if recent updates have changed the performance rankings of popular web browsers. We published our most recent comparison last April, when we used WebXPRT 4 to compare the performance of five browsers on the same system.

For this round of tests, we used a Dell XPS 13 7930, which features an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM, running Windows 11 Home updated to version 22H2 (22621.1105). We installed all current Windows updates, and updated each of the browsers under test: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 4 three times on each of the five browsers. The score we post for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, Edge was the clear winner, with a 2.2 percent performance advantage over Chrome. Firefox came in last, about 3 percent slower than Opera, which was in the middle of the pack. With updated versions of the browsers, the only change in rank order was that Brave moved into a tie with Opera.

While the rank order from this round of tests was very similar to the previous round, we did observe two clear performance trends: (1) the range between high and low scores was tighter, dropping from a difference of 7.8 percent to 4.3 percent, and (2) every browser demonstrated improved performance. The chart below illustrates both trends. Firefox showed the single largest score improvement at 7.8 percent, but the performance jump for each browser was considerable.

Do these results mean that Microsoft Edge will always provide a speedier web experience, or Firefox will always be slower than the others? Not necessarily. It’s true that a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily web activities than one with a much lower score, but your experience depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, along with your system’s privacy settings, memory load, ecosystem integration, extension activity, and web app capabilities.

In addition, browser speed can noticeably increase or decrease after an update, and OS-specific optimizations can affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 11 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how WebXPRT results translate to your everyday experience.

Have you used WebXPRT to compare browser performance on the same system? Let us know how it turned out!

Justin

Let us know if you encounter this Adobe PSE 2020 issue with HDXPRT 4

Last week, a member of the tech press let us know that they encountered an error while preparing a system for HDXPRT 4 testing. Specifically, while attempting to install the trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) 2020, they encountered the following error:

Update Required

Your browser or operating system is no longer supported. You may need to install the latest updates to your operating system.

They were working with an MSI Sword 15 A12UE, which had all the latest Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge updates, and they were able to complete installation and testing on other Windows 11 systems in their lab. This eliminates compatibility between the Adobe PSE 2020 installer package and Windows 11 or Microsoft Edge as the issue.

We do not have the same MSI Sword system in our lab, but we tried to replicate the issue by performing the HDXPRT 4 installation and setup process on a Dell G7 15 laptop running on an up-to-date version of Windows 11 (22H2, 22621.521). We successfully installed Adobe PSE 2020 and completed several HDXPRT 4 iterations.

The error this user encountered could be specific to their system or situation. However, we would like to know if other HDXPRT 4 users have run into the same issue. If you’ve experienced this issue in your testing, please contact us. We may be able to identify and publish a solution. 

Justin

Using WebXPRT 4 to compare the performance of popular browsers

From time to time, we like to run a series of in-house WebXPRT comparison tests to see if recent updates have changed the performance rankings of popular web browsers. We published our most recent comparison last October, when we used WebXPRT 3 to compare Windows 10 and Windows 11 browser performance on the same system. Now that WebXPRT 4 is live, it’s time to update our comparison series with the newest member of the XPRT family.

For this round of tests, we used a Dell XPS 13 7930, which features an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM, running Windows 11 Home updated to version 21H2 (22000.593). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 4 three times each across five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. The posted score for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our previous round of tests with WebXPRT 3, Google Chrome narrowly beat out Firefox in Windows 10 and Windows 11 testing, but the scores among three of the Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, and Opera) were close enough that most users performing common daily tasks would be unlikely to notice a difference. Brave performance lagged by about 7 percent, a difference that may be noticeable to most users. This time, when testing updated versions of the browsers with WebXPRT 4 on Windows 11, the rankings changed. Edge was the clear winner, with a 2.2 percent performance advantage over Chrome. Firefox came in last, about 3 percent slower than Opera, which was in the middle of the pack. Performance from Brave improved to the point that it was no longer lagging the other Chromium-based browsers.

Do these results mean that Microsoft Edge will always provide you with a speedier web experience? A device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browser’s default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 11 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how WebXPRT results translate to your everyday experience.

Do you have insights you’d like to share from using WebXPRT to compare browser performance? Let us know!

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers in Windows 10 and Windows 11

People choose a default web browser based on several factors. Speed is sometimes the deciding factor, but privacy settings, memory load, ecosystem integration, and web app capabilities can also come into play. Regardless of the motivations behind a person’s go-to browser choice, the dominance of software-as-a-service (SaaS) computing means that new updates are always right around the corner. In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about how browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Microsoft Edge on Windows and Google Chrome on Chrome OS.

Windows 11 began rolling out earlier this month, and tech press outlets such as AnandTech and PCWorld have used WebXPRT 3 to evaluate the impact of the new OS—or specific settings in the OS—on browser performance. Our own in-house tests, which we discuss below, show a negligible impact on browser performance when updating our test system from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It’s important to note that depending on a system’s hardware setup, the impact might be more significant in certain scenarios. For more information about such scenarios, we encourage you to read the PCWorld article discussing the impact of the Windows 11 default virtualization-based security (VBS) settings on browser performance in some instances.

In our comparison tests, we used a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM. For the Windows 10 tests, we used a clean Windows 10 Home image updated to version 20H2 (19042.1165). For the Windows 11 tests, we updated the system to Windows 11 Home version 21H2 (22000.282). On each OS version, we ran WebXPRT 3 three times on the latest versions of five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. For each browser, the score we post below is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests on Windows 10, Firefox was the clear winner. Three of the Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced very close scores, and the performance of Brave lagged by about 7 percent. In this round of Windows 10 testing, performance on every browser improved slightly, with Google Chrome taking a slight lead over Firefox.

In our Windows 11 testing, we were interested to find that without exception, browser scores were slightly lower than in Windows 10 testing. However, none of the decreases were statistically significant. Most users performing daily tasks are unlikely to notice that degree of difference.

Have you observed any significant differences in WebXPRT 3 scores after upgrading to Windows 11? If so, let us know!

Justin

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