Which is the Fastest Next-Gen Browser?–and Why This Matters


Webware is out with some interesting speed tests on the Google Chrome browser and the latest beta version of Firefox 3.1, which we wrote about here. Chrome has been much lauded for its Javascript performance, which could let users of online applications such as Zoho work with better speed, and could let online application providers add more features.

In Webware’s tests, though, Tracemonkey-enabled Firefox 3.1 (beta) outdid Chrome in Javascript performance. Here are the details and what they mean.

Webware tested the two browsers–along with Apple’s Safari and beta 2 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer version 8 browser, using the well-known benchmark test SunSpider. After some initial results that showed Chrome performing fastest on Javascript tests, it came to light that Firefox 3.1’s TraceMonkey JavaScript engine wasn’t enabled for the test.

When the tests were run again with TraceMonkey enabled (the first beta of Firefox 1 is seeing its handling of TraceMonkey cleaned up) Webware found Firefox fastest, Chrome second, Safari next, and the IE 8 beta last. As Stephen Shankland from Webware notes: “JavaScript is widely used in innumerable ordinary Web sites, and Internet companies have found that even small improvements in Web page responsiveness increases user interaction with their sites. A snappier response is better for everyone.”

He also notes that companies offering online applications such as Zoho and Google can build more features into their applications with faster Javascript. That could make a big difference for many web workers.

Over on the OStatic blog, we got input from AdventNet/Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu on this a while ago. Vembu said: “Being heavily invested in web standards and Javascript, we love the recent announcement of a new JIT-based Javascript VM in Firefox 3.1 and today’s news of Google Chrome. These developments are a huge win for the entire ecosystem of web application developers.”

Zembu also made the point that Flash and Silverlight–which many web users deem to create annoyances–may become less prevalent on the web as faster Javascript performance in browsers marches forward. If you want to know how these next-generation browsers are really going to impact the performance of applications you use online, check out his thoughts.

A couple of other things I want to throw in here are that it’s nice to see two open source browsers leading the way in innovation among browsers. In my opinion, browser innovation isn’t at the level it should be.  Also, with all the talk about Google Chrome, very few people have noted that it is built on much of the same open source code base as Firefox. Google also contributes tens of millions of dollars every year to Mozilla for development of Firefox.

The fact that these browsers share much of the same code base may also make it easier for the huge community of Firefox extension builders to reinvent their extensions for Chrome. In turn, as Mozilla and Google work on transforming their browsers to mobile versions, that could mean solid mobile browsers with useful extensions, instead of the terrible mobile browsers we have now. There are many reasons why users should expect cross-platform mobile implementations of Chrome, as discussed here. Mozilla is already out with the alpha of Fennec, its mobile version of Firefox, which we discussed here.

These two open source browsers are going to duke it out in ways similar to what I’ve described here, working from much of the same code base. That competition is good for us all.



Opera is absolutely the fastest browser and yes IT WORKS FOR ALL OF MY WEBSITES!

but I use Firefox anyway :) … I also don’t mind using Internet Explorer to burn smartcard on an Active directory everyone in a while.

mike sputz

The reason Google Chrome is talked about so much these days is not because it is a great browser (yet) but because it introduced a lot of good new ideas (and good new approaches to old ones), and it’s open source and people are starting to take the things they like and do something with them. The browser itself isn’t quite “there” yet but a lot of stuff in it has caused a flurry of activity in the browser market. As a product it’s not quite complete and feels unfinished, but as an experiment in contributing to moving the web forward it’s a great success.
On Opera: Sure they deserve to be mentioned. But I find it frustrating that a lot of stuff on the web that “just worked” for a long time in IE and FF suddenly seems like a pain in the butt for Opera to make work. A lot of AJAX (and other javascript-related stuff) doesn’t work in Opera on the default settings, because by default it doesn’t want to load new information from the same URL. Most users don’t have a clue how to get around this. The intent was to make the browser faster by not loading stuff that’s already loaded, but in the Web 2.0 world it’s kind of a flawed approach. Opera feels like a work in progress, but it has been going in the right direction with each update.

Ron Jon

They should rename Opera and change the logo. Branding on Opera is horrible, not to mention the the interface.


I have hope, Google Chrome will get first place ASAP.

Thanks & Regards


obvious that a lot of people want to have opera in the discussion. Me too. For me, Firefox rules and Opera is the fastest browser.


What about opera 9.5 for mobile browsing on a smartphone, it’s fully javascript enabled and works a treat!! Generations ahead from any other mobile browser in my mind.


You’re right, it’s wonderful that two of the open source browsers are leading the way, I think this is going to be great for the industry long term.

Sasho Mihajlov

For me is not everything in just speed, relatively all browsers are similar with speed tests, but Opera take small recourses, fastest navigation(specially) and I don’t have problems like Firefox 3, when I exit from application and the process still running in background and can’t lunch Firefox again, this problem frustrating me.
I think Opera is very cool.


U can try this actions on opera :
-Hold Right mouse button and scroll to switch tabs
-Hold left mouse button and Click the right one to go one page forward
-Hold RIGHT mouse button and click Left mouse button to go backwards

and for example, if u have ur password saved on certain page, just use the Forward(2nd one) and it will login

love this futures so much :D

Vadim Schetinkin

I’ve downloaded new Opera 9.6 last night… and was quite impressed….. I going to switch from FF3 to Opera after testing period…. I like new note-taking feature, robust email working, Next button…

speed is about speed of FF….

somewhere Opera is better, somewhere – FF3…

Strange they did not mention Opera… Looks like non-objective review and attempt to focus attention on Chrome…


Well, opera isn’t included, but, I went ahead and did the sunspider benchmark on my own and results were pretty sad.

On my machine, latest Opera (9.60) performs better than chrome only in date tests (1.2 to 2 times better) and in all other tests, 1.2 to 10 times worse.
In total, Opera takes twice as long to run all tests as Chrome. Seeing as firefox tracemonkey makes FF faster than Chrome, I don’t see the reason to even compare Opera with latest FF.

But I did do test with IE7 (no IE8 beta in my machine, was too buggy).
And Opera was on average 6 times faster than IE7. :D

I surely hope Opera guys will do some magic stuff with their javascript engine too :D Otherwise it’s a solid browser and fastest acting browser when clicking back button :D (and by default, remembers last page state, so no form data losses).

Gerdus van Zyl

Incorrect Fact:
“Also, with all the talk about Google Chrome, very few people have noted that it is built on much of the same open source code base as Firefox.”

Chrome is actually based on WebKit which is what powers Safari.


I agree with everyone here supporting opera. Opera might not be the most popular browser around but damn well built. My daily work requires me to deal with lots of web pages all the time (since am in web development business). And to be honest, when building a site… I always design it for opera and then adjust it to work for IE (!?!?! :/)… And the newest synchronisation options as well as (not so know to public) opera dragonfly. Damn… so many tools that I cant live without.


You say that “all browsers” are tested and again Opera is not on the list.

The question is Why? Are they afraid from Opera!


Yes, i find it rediculous that the leave Opera out, in my opinion is Opera alot better then IE8 / Chrome and can easily compete with FireFox, im a person who browses the internet about 8-9hours/day cuz of my work and i use Opera all the time..
Most important thing about opera is it’s mouse actions to easily switch between pages and go to prev/next page.


Wow i always thought FireFox was good :) but had to admit that i thought Chrome was faster in JS than FireFox.

Blandy Buchanan

I agree with gubbi on the tabs. It’s a huge pain in the ass going through and updating my Blockbuster and later Netflix queues, and the rest of my tabs freezing while it worked every time on Firefox.


But google chrome render like crap and google wants to own everything you do !


Still, chrome’s idea of isolating each browser tab as a separate process and not letting failure in one tab to take down the entire browser, is such a life saver. I have had many a frustrated moments because of this while using firefox.

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