Microsoft bets that battery claims will boost Edge

As Edge's share on Windows 10 falls to new low, Microsoft promotes browser's power efficiency

Microsoft today continued to press its case that Windows 10's Edge browser is more power efficient than rivals.

In a post to a company blog, Jason Weber, a director in the web platform team, trumpeted new streaming tests that show Edge displayed content longer than other browsers on identical battery-powered Surface Book laptops.

"With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge is more efficient than ever, and still the best choice for extending your battery life on Windows 10," said Weber.

According to Weber and his company's tests, Edge streamed video 45% longer than Google's Chrome before the notebook's battery died. The blog cited a string of other measurements to bolster Microsoft's claim that Edge is more power efficient than competitors like Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox and Opera Software's Opera. Microsoft also contended that the version of Edge bundled with this summer's Anniversary Update -- identified as 1607 to mark year and month -- is an improvement over the edition packaged with last November's 1511 Windows 10 update.

Microsoft launched its Edge-eats-less-battery campaign in June, when it used a pair of blog posts, one by Weber, to position the browser as the pick for power misers.

Last week, Google responded with a counter-blog that, while not refuting Microsoft's original claims, claimed that the brand-new Chrome 53 could stream video 26% longer than January's Chrome 46 on identical notebooks. Today's assertions by Microsoft were counters to Google's counter.

The company has chosen to battle on the basis of battery performance. "We understand how important battery life is to Windows customers, which is why we're passionate about making Microsoft Edge the most power efficient browser on Windows 10," wrote Weber. "We'll continue to deliver power-saving features and optimizations in the upcoming releases."

The choice may have been as much forced as freely selected: Most other comparisons have been muted, and made moot.

For instance, browser makers long ago gave up juxtaposing the applications on the basis of rendering speed or other performance metrics; the results had grown increasingly close and of little use even as a promotional tool. And comparisons of user interfaces (UI) also fell out of favor as the most-used browsers all adopted the minimalist styling of Chrome.

Microsoft's motivation for the battery appraisal was obvious: Edge has performed poorly, and continues to do so, where it most counts.

Two weeks ago, metrics vendor Net Applications said that Edge lost 1.7 percentage points of share in August, accounting for 22.4% of the browsers run by Windows 10 PC. That was a new low; as recently as April, Edge's share on Windows 10 was nearly 31%.

Other data sources have also portrayed Edge slumping. The Digital Analytics Program (DAP), which tallies visits to more than 4,000 U.S. government websites, pegged Edge's share of Windows 10's browsers at 20.5% for August, a significant downturn from Edge's 24.4% share at the beginning of the year.

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