In recent months, the hottest topic in the world of Web browsing has been speed. Apple says its beta version of Safari 4 is the world’s fastest browser. The first thing Google tells you about Chrome is that it’s “faster.” Better performance is a key feature in Mozilla’s upcoming Firefox 3.5. Opera says that its alpha of Opera 10 is “30% faster.”
And Microsoft? Well, mostly it’s had to contend with coverage like this story that reports that Safari is forty-two times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and six times faster than IE 8.
Today, the company is fighting back. It’s done its own speed benchmarks and has created a video about them and published a white paper about browser benchmarking. Here’s a stunner: It’s not concluding that IE is a horribly slow browser. In fact, it says that Internet Explorer 8 is not only competitive, but loads many of the world’s most popular Web sites faster than Firefox 3.0 or Chrome 1.0. I met with IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch last week, and he made the same claim.
The Microsoft video ends with a line about staying tuned for more info. I’m guessing Microsoft will contend that there’s more to fast browsing than can be measured by any benchmark–it’s also about how quickly you can perform typical tasks, how easy it is to wrangle tabs and find stuff online, how well the browser recovers from problems, and the like. All valid points.