Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No, Google's Chrome Browser isn't the fastest browser by leaps and bounds (anymore)

Tech people (like the rest of the homosapiens) are experts at mixing facts with opinion, a.k.a. bias. In my view Firefox by and large caught up to Chrome with release 4.0. Since then it has continued to make great strides...

Yet, I've noticed many people saying "Firefox is bloated, slow, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah". One of them (who I don't know personally) is ZDNet blogger Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. In short, Steven trashes Firefox with every major release but worships Chrome's every release. Merely juxtapose what he wrote not even one month ago about Firefox 6 when it was released (the Mozilla team this year adopted a fast release cycle like Google's for Chrome):


Now compare that with what he wrote about Chrome 14 which came out a few days ago:


There's opinion, "Firefox is bloated", then there's reality, Lifehacker just juxtaposed Firefox 7 with other major browsers:


Going back not even a month ago Tom's Hardware did JavaScript performance tests comparing the major browsers:


In terms of JavaScript performance, Firefox 6 beat Chrome 13 in 4 of 5 tests. And today Firefox 7 was released. In closing, if your frame of reference of Firefox is anchored in the distant past, you should look again. Beyond that, if the plugins you've used under Firefox have memory leaks, crash Firefox, etc., etc., that's not the Mozilla team's fault.

I should also point out that Firefox for many years has supported HTTP Pipelining. Chrome to this day does not support HTTP Pipelining which is part of the HTTP 1.1 specification that came out 10+ years ago. Chrome does feature an alternative called SPDY however this is not part of the HTTP specification and you will only benefit from this if you are visiting Google web properties. The only popular browser that readily supports HTTP Pipelining is Firefox. One notable benefit is that as your connection latency goes up, e.g., 3G aircard, tethering on your laptop or God forbid, dialup, performance improves. If you find yourself browsing a lot on a 3G connection then Firefox with HTTP Pipelining is for you. Performance also goes up as the number of distinct elements that need to be fetched goes up, e.g., lots of images (which translate to that many more HTTP requests).

HTTP Pipelining is the first thing I enable when I have a new Firefox profile. In the address bar simply type "about:config", search for "pipe" then set network.http.pipelining to true. I also change network.http.pipelining.maxrequests to 7.

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