Internet Explorer World's Fastest Browser; IE9 Has Strongest Privacy Protection, Google Circumvented Privacy Protections Built into Safari, Microsoft

Another massive post on Windows 8, authored by IE team, talks about building high performance web browsing using Internet Explorer --as engineers and as end-users--real world web performance."Real world browser performance matters. Measuring performance at scale is a significant investment and a full-time job, but the results are well worth the effort. The data gathered […]

Internet Explorer 9Another massive post on Windows 8, authored by IE team, talks about building high performance web browsing using Internet Explorer --as engineers and as end-users--real world web performance.

"Real world browser performance matters. Measuring performance at scale is a significant investment and a full-time job, but the results are well worth the effort. The data gathered by the Internet Explorer Performance Lab is instrumental in our understanding of browser performance and of the underlying PC hardware, and in developing a fast, fluid, and responsive web experience for users," the team said.

The team examines how Microsoft tests web features in their own IE Performance Lab, which itself measures the performance of Internet Explorer 200 times daily, collecting over 5.7 million measurements and 480GB of runtime data each day.

IE Performance Lab

The IE Performance Lab is a private network completely sealed from both the public Internet and the Microsoft intranet network, and contains over 140 machines. The lab also contains the key pieces of the real Internet, including web servers, DNS servers, routers, network emulators, cable, DSL, wireless 4G and even 56K dialup connections, which simulate different customer connectivity scenarios.

The lab's DNS servers link the web server over to the lab's next category of machines, test clients.

The IE Performance Lab supports desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets with x86, x64, and ARM processors, all simultaneously. The lab uses the Windows Performance Tools (WPT) to run same tests using different web browsers, toolbars, anti-virus programs and more in an attempt to record the best overall real world web performance statistics.

In the IE Performance Lab, activity is measured with 100 nanosecond resolution. A single test run takes 6 hours to complete and generates over 22GB of data during that time.

The Lab infrastructure comprises of three main categories: Network and Server, Test Clients, and Analysis and Reporting.

The Lab use 11 server class machines, each of which has 16 cores and 16GB of RAM. It also has a SQL server that stores six million lab measurements each day inside a 24 logical core machine with a whopping 64GB of RAM. During analysis, each trace file is inspected and thousands of metrics are extracted and inserted into a SQL server. Over the course of 24 hours these analysis machines will inspect over 15,000 traces that will be used for trend analysis.

"In total, the Performance Lab measures over 850 different metrics. Each one provides part of the picture of browser performance. To give a feel for what we measure, here's a (non-exhaustive) list of key metrics: private working set, total working set, HTTP request count, TCP bytes received, number of binaries loaded, number of context switches, DWM video memory usage, percent GPU utilization, number of paints, CPU time in JavaScript garbage collection, CPU time in JavaScript parsing, average DWM update interval, peak total working set, number of heap allocations, size of heap allocations, number of outstanding heap allocations, size of outstanding heap allocations, CPU time in layout subsystem, CPU time in formatting subsystem, CPU time in rendering subsystem, CPU time in HTML parser subsystem, idle CPU time, number of threads," the team said.

When the testing is complete the lab looks at the results, such as the one shows in the picture below:

"The red series shows the median value of each test run, and grey bars show the range. Hovering over a test run will show the iterations for the metric (in blue) as well as a tooltip that provides the exact values for minimum, median, max values, as well as the absolute and relative difference with the previous test run. The tooltip shown in this image also provides additional context like the build being tested, and a quick link to our source control system to view the changes in the build," says the team.

IE Performance Lab results

Also, in another post "Browse Without Being Browsed", Microsoft is touting Windows Internet Explorer 9 as the browser of choice and comes with the strongest privacy protection and respects your privacy, unlike Google.

In the blog post, Microsoft claims that Google has been able to track users of Apple's Safari browser while they surf the web on their Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs. Adding, the Redmond company says, these type of tracking by Google is not new and that Google has apparently circumvented the privacy protections built into Apple's Safari browser in a "deliberate, and ultimately, successful fashion."

Adding, Microsoft says, "If you find this type of behavior alarming and want to protect your confidential information and privacy while you're online, there are alternatives for you. Windows Internet Explorer is the browser that respects your privacy. Through unique built in features like Tracking Protection and other privacy features in IE9, you are in control of who is tracking your actions online. Not Google. Not advertisers. Just you."

Microsoft touted Internet Explorer 9 as the browser with the "strongest privacy protection in the industry" with its Tracking Protection feature.

Microsoft also cites a couple of references as to why IE9 is great by describing it as the "epitome of browser choice and control as far as protecting user privacy goes" and praised for making "strides towards providing users with greater control over their privacy."

Update: Google circumventing the privacy settings of millions of Safari users, as said above by Microsoft has now been confirmed from a report by a Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer, who showed that using Safari triggered a special behavior in the normal cookie-creation process. His finding later picked up by the Wall Street Journal's piece entitled "Google's iPhone Tracking: Web Giant, Others Bypassed Apple Browser Settings for Guarding Privacy."

The gist of the exploit is:

normally, a plain HTTP request to put a cookie on a machine running Safari would be acknowledged, vetted, and either accepted (for something like Amazon tracking your position on the site), or rejected (for something like DoubleClick meta-cookies). Google's (DoubleClick's, technically, but ultimately it's Google's) special cookie dispenser, however, would detect that Safari was being used, and "fill out" a form element on the client side, sending that out instead of a plain request.

Google issued the following statement on the issue stating:

The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Unlike other major browsers, Apple's Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default. However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as "Like" buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content-such as the ability to "+1" things that interest them.

To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google's servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that the information passing between the user's Safari browser and Google's servers was anonymous-effectively creating a barrier between their personal information and the web content they browse.

However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn't anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers. It's important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome were not affected. Nor were users of any browser (including Safari) who have opted out of our interest-based advertising program using Google's Ads Preferences Manager.

Domain Highlighting in IE9

Microsoft also posted a video titled "Domain highlighting in Internet Explorer 9" --

"One way to avoid deceptive websites is to know the address of the website you're intending to visit. With domain highlighting, Internet Explorer 9 lets you see the true web address at a glance by highlighting the domain name in the Address bar, making it easier for you to identify the sites you visit. This helps alert you to deceptive websites that try to trick you with misleading addresses and can help reduce the chances of compromising your personal information."

Here is how to turn on Tracking Protection:

  1. Open Internet Explorer by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Internet Explorer, and then, in the list of results, click Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools button , point to Safety, and then click Tracking protection.
  3. In the Manage Add-on dialog box, click a Tracking Protection list, and then click Enable.