Latest IE9 tops benchmark, but Microsoft stands firm

IE9 - speedy
IE9 - speedy

Despite the latest build of IE9 taking the lead in an influential browser benchmark, Microsoft has insisted that the tests are 'not very useful and at worst misleading.'

Microsoft is at pains to point out that JavaScript is 'just one component' that defines browser performance, even as IE9's latest incarnation – Platform Preview 7 – knocks Chrome and Opera from the top of the well-respected Webkit SunSpider javascript test.

Microsoft's latest IE9 build is Platform Preview 7 – coming just three weeks after the sixth incarnation – and it has edged ahead of both Google's Chrome and Opera.

Flawed tests

However, Microsoft has, to its credit, stayed firm on it stance that browser speed tests are flawed, because they simply do not have enough relevance to end-user experience.

"We've been consistent in our point of view that these tests are at best not very useful, and at worst misleading," blogged John Hrvatin, Lead Program Manager, Internet Explorer

"Even with the most recent results in the chart above, our motivations and our point of view remain unchanged.

"We've focused on improving real world site performance. We've made progress on some microbenchmarks as a side effect. Focusing on another subsystem microbenchmark is not very useful.

Real-word scenarios

"We think people should evaluate browser performance with real-world scenarios," he added.

"Real-world scenarios involve using all the subsystems in the browser together rather than looking at single subsystems in isolation.

"Using a narrow slice of features to assess the big picture makes as little sense here as using the "Acid" tests to understand standards compliance."

Microsoft's stance is, of course, all the more acceptable given IE9's massive improvement in speed on its lacklustre predecessor.

With browsers expected to perform much trickier tasks the speed remains an important part of the equation, but with SunSpider test showing browsers operating within a thousandth of a second, the tests do begin to look less than useful.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.