Microsoft Boasts Of (Tiny) Energy Saving With IE Browser

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Use Internet Explorer (IE) browser instead of Chrome or Firefox, says Microsoft – and save about 1 Watt

Microsoft has said that using its Internet Explorer (IE) browser will help save the environment because it uses less power. However, the difference compared with more popular browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is tiny.

The Microsoft-sponsored study, carried out by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, found IE used less power than Chrome or Mozilla when looking at the top ten most popular websites in the US, on both laptops and personal computers. The full report, available here (PDF), also revealed the not-unsurprising news that complex Flash and HTML5 sites can increase laptop power usage by up to 50 percent.

ie logo

IE uses a bit less power

Laptops use about 14.7 Watts when idling. Firing up a browser adds another one or two Watts to this, depending which sites are browsed, and which browser you are using, Fraunhofer found. On desktop PCs, browsers add the same amount to the energy draw – but the baseline is around 37.8W.

On average, Mozilla and Chrome used about 1W more than IE – but this means that you would have to browse for 20 hours to save the equivalent energy used to make a cup of tea, and about 1000 hours to save a whole 1kWH of energy (costing about 10p).

The fact that Microsoft is promoting this fact may say more about its concern over IE’s share, than about the energy saving ability of its browser. The graph provided in the paper cuts off the lower part of the scale, so the difference looks more significant.

ie power compared with chrome and firefox

The variation between websites and the technology they use seems to be far more significant, with YouTube clearly burning up to 3W more power than other popular sites such as Google. And more complex media experiences, delivered by sites using Flash or HTML5, appear to burn even more energy, with heavy HTML5 and Flash sites causing an increase in power draw of up to 8W or 9W (effectively adding 50 percent to the machine’s power draw). This means that two-and-a-half hours of constant Flash or HTML5 would burn enough energy to make a cup of tea.

ie energy use table

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Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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