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IE8 Beta 2: 2x fatter than Firefox

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 arrived last week amid great expectations and some heated controversy. The latter was due to Microsoft’s decision to adopt a standards-compliant rendering model that breaks a great many IE-specific web sites.

However, while various bloggers and pundits waxed breathlessly about all of the new bells and whistles (including the much-reported “porn mode”), we were busy putting Microsoft’s new browser under the microscope of the exo.repository.

For more information on the exo.performance.network, or to register for your free Analysis Portal account, visit www.xpnet.com.

Over the course of several days, we evaluated IE 8 under both Windows XP (SP3) and Vista x86 (SP1) to determine how this major update behaves and what, if any, new burdens it might place on today’s over-taxed (in the case of Vista) Windows PCs.

What we found was another example of unchecked Microsoft  code “bloat,” complete with “shirt-bursting, waistline-stretching” memory consumption and the kind of CPU-hogging thread growth normally reserved for massively parallel server farms.

By contrast, IE 7 consumed just under 250MB rendering this same workload, while Firefox 3.01 put both IE versions to shame by completing the same browsing scenario in just 159MB of RAM.

The story gets worse for IE 8 when you examine the number of threads spawned to complete the scenarios. Under Firefox, the count never exceed 29 concurrent threads. IE 7 spawned a hefty 65 execution threads, while IE 8 tried to choke the life out of the CPU with a massive 171 concurrent threads.

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