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Google cuts Chrome power consumption, but Microsoft still thinks you should use Edge

Over the past few months, Microsoft has taken potshots at Google for high power consumption under Chrome. As we’ve discussed, there’s truth to the company’s statements. Independent tests have regularly demonstrated that Chrome uses more power than Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Opera, though the exact ratios and scores depend on workload and use-case.

Google announced several changes to Chrome 52 for Android this week, with faster video load times, less buffering, and better overall power consumption management. A short demonstration video is embedded below:

While these benefits are currently Android-specific, Google isn’t going to keep them there. “Since the beginning of the year, we’ve made a 33% improvement in video playback GPU/CPU power consumption on Windows 10,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. “And by Chrome 53, we feel confident that we’ll be at parity with other browsers in terms of power consumption for the majority of video playback on the internet.”

Microsoft, it seems, has gone beyond just issuing blog posts to call out its own browser’s superiority. First there’s this tweet from analyst Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights and Strategy.

Since upgrading to Windows 10‘s Anniversary Update, I’m also being prompted with this on my own system:


On the one hand, it’s nice to see Microsoft respecting system defaults after an upgrade, since this kind of behavior got it in hot water with other companies last year. In the past, Microsoft has changed consumer preferences when installing upgrades or updates.

On the other hand, this kind of insistent nagging is what’s turned off plenty of people to Windows 10 in the first place. While I’m willing to give Edge another shot, post-Anniversary Update, my experience with the browser has not been positive. It’s not just a question of extensions, which Edge finally supports now — I’ve had real problems with the browser refusing to close multiple tabs and lagging on a number of sites where other browsers have no issue. It’s not just a question of adblock, either; Edge has been problematic for me across multiple testbeds, even with adblock disabled on other browsers.

When Microsoft announced its intent to turn Windows into an OS-as-a-service model, plenty of people predicted that the company would either start charging a monthly subscription fee (it hasn’t), or would launch attacks against other major distribution platforms (it also hasn’t). But there’s another, more subtle impact to that mindset that I don’t think Microsoft has even considered. When your software is sold as a service, it’s never really finished. This, in turn, means Microsoft’s various internal departments (shown below) are in a never-ending tussle to attract user eyeballs and attention.

In the old days, MS released a new OS with a bevy of new features, marketed the hell out of it as a one-time deal, and then moved on. Now, various applications receive ongoing updates — and all of those applications need to justify their own existence with improved user engagement, satisfaction ratings, and increased time spent in-app. Instead of nagging you to try something once, MS has an ongoing incentive to keep nagging you. And, of course, the new tracking in Windows 10’s telemetry lets it measure whether or not said nagging is effective in a way that previous versions of Windows didn’t.

Welcome to the future. Somehow I never imagined it would be this annoying.

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