When he launched Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 back in March 2008, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager Internet Explorer, revealed that "some of the tests we have done show pure JScript performance improvements up to 2.5 times. We also measured the performance gains on common Gmail operations, like loading the inbox (34%), opening a conversation (45%) and opening a thread (27%) compared to IE7."
Christian Stockwell, IE program manager, said at the end of August 2008 that Microsoft would not be joining the chorus of browser developers trumpeting their product as the fastest in the universe. And believe it or not, there's a good enough reason why Microsoft is not applauding the performance superiority of IE8 over that of its rivals... because it's simply not there.
What did Microsoft do with IE8?
"When we took a hard look at our goals and considered what we could do to build the best browser we were presented with a quandary. On the one hand, we could focus very narrowly on scripting performance, trusting that our investment would noticeably improve our users’ browsing experience. Alternatively, we could invest more broadly in realistic scenarios, measuring heavily-used subsystems and investing our optimization effort accordingly. We opted for the latter approach," Stockwell explained.
In translation, Microsoft abandoned the idea of focusing on boosting JScript and JScript alone and went a different way, namely optimizing the browser for top usage scenarios. But in this context, Microsoft has left itself wide opened to a perception problem. And make no mistake about it; just as it was the case with Windows Vista, while poor performance is survivable, the generalized consumer perception of poor performance however acts as a deal breaker.
Firefox 3.1 TraceMonkey
Google Browser Chrome V8
Swimming in Native Code
Microsoft has indeed worked on IE8 performance, from runtime to memory optimization, but also on taking the AJAX subsystems a step forward, and the actual evolution of the existing JavaScrip engine of the browser. However, this does not change the fact that Internet Explorer needs a native code compiler so as to at least keep the same pace as its rivals.
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is available for download here.
Google Chrome is available for download here.