Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team has made big strides in recent years, supporting HTML5 and other web standards, collaborating on cool projects that show the potential of the web, betting big on touch input and generally attempting to make IE more cool.
But I had to chuckle this weekend as I dug into some new data released by Microsoft as part of its effort to get a leg up on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in the browser market.
Internet Explorer 10 is “the most energy efficient browser on Windows 8,” the company declared — citing a report by the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems at Fraunhofer USA, which found that Internet Explorer uses up to 18 percent less energy than Chrome and Firefox.
“This means that if every Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox user in the United States switched to Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 for a year, the energy saved could power over 10,000 households in the United States for that year,” the company said.
In other words: Use Internet Explorer 10, and help save the planet!
Well, sorta. Some additional context and thoughts about this report:
Microsoft paid the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems at Fraunhofer USA to conduct the study, the methods and results of which are summarized in this 21-page report.
10,000 households is 0.0087% of the 114.8 million households in the country.
Microsoft, of course, makes both Windows 8 and Internet Explorer. They’re part of the same division. Back in the day, the company argued they were basically the same product. The people who make IE know Windows inside and out. Of course IE10 is more energy-efficient on Windows 8. Do we need a study to find this out?
Some of the key charts in the report aren’t shown at true scale. Look again at the numbers on the y-axis in the chart at the top of this post, which shows average total power consumption of notebook computers, in watts, when running each of the three browsers across the 10 most-visited sites in the U.S. The numbers in that official chart stop at 15. I made this alternative version (above, right) to show the actual scale.
In other words, in the context of the overall power consumption of the computer, the differences in energy consumption among the various browsers is pretty darned small on most of the major sites tested in the study.
Yes, every little bit helps the environment, battery life is important, it’s great when companies can lead by example, and absolutely, we need to save the planet.
But if real people actually take this into account when choosing a web browser, well … more power to them, I guess.