On September 2nd of 2008 a web browser was released that changed my browsing habits forever, this web browser was known as Google Chrome. Shortly after it was released, it put a wedge into my monogamous relationship with Mozilla Firefox and caused us to separate after many years. I have been using Chrome as my primary browser for years with no complaints, that is until I took part in my Unorthodox Computer Challenge.
I have been hearing complaints for several years on the internet that Google Chrome is a memory hog however as most of the machines I use daily have over 8 GB of RAM (often 16-32 GB), this was never much of a problem for me. Now that my primary machine is limited to 2 GB of soldered in RAM, I am really feeling the pain as Google Chrome was often so slow when 2 or more tabs were in play that it was unusable. GMail’s web interface took over a minute to render and Google Plus was completely unusable. Page rendering was so slow that I even suspected that my ISP was having issues, which I quickly ruled out thanks to OnHub’s speed test system.
A Web Browser is a very important requirement for me to use on my machines, the browser must be able to support most HTML5 elements at the very least. As I plan to stick with this challenge for as long as it takes, I spent a few hours today looking into alternative light weight web browsers and learned alot.
Midori is a well known browser in the Linux community due to its light weight nature. It is the default browser on many Linux builds designed for low end hardware such as builds for the Raspberry Pi. They also happen to have a Windows port of the browser so I downloaded and installed the browser on my machine. After several attempts to even get it to run without locking up, I realized that it is far from lightweight on the Windows end.
I decided to pay my former go-to browser a visit and see if it suits my needs. Firefox got a fresh coat of paint and looks great however it took a huge step back when it came to memory use. While not as memory hungry as Chrome, it struggled to render several heavy web pages with its limited RAM. I decided to have a talk with the browser and we came to terms that the time is just not right for us to get back together.
Ever since I setup this machine, I have been haunted by the blue “e” button hiding in the Windows Start Menu that appeared to be a reincarnation of Internet Explorer. I previously only used this browser once…. to download Google Chrome of course. After much reflection, I decided to double click on the Microsoft Edge icon and noticed that it launched faster then any other browser that I have tested. It only took a few seconds to render GMail and even Google Plus loaded in a few seconds.
I quickly fell out of my chair after realizing that Microsoft may have actually done something right for a change, which are words I never thought I would ever say, yet alone write. Unlike the toolbar heavy Internet Explorer windows that I have seen throughout the years, Microsoft Edge is actually very minimal. It is so minimal that it does not even support plugins or extensions at this time which may actually be an unintended bonus when it comes to making it faster and improving security. I was also delighted to see that Microsoft Edge has a built in autocorrect feature similar to what I have in Android, come on Google, this needs to be an option in Chrome.
I spent 4 hours testing over 8 browsers to see if any meet my needs. Microsoft Edge it is for most things… I guess. I will say that Microsoft Edge has a lot of damage control it will need to do to get the fresh taste of Internet Explorer out of my mouth. I will still have Google Chrome installed on this machine in case it is needed.