Opera fires back at Microsoft Edge battery claims

Vu Anh Nguyen

Opera logo

Someone in the Opera team is getting a bit salty. Microsoft recently conducted tests where they compare battery life efficiency between Microsoft Edge and other popular browsers – Opera included – and subsequently concluded Edge is the most battery-efficient of them all. This conclusion has apparently rub the Opera team – whose browser just got a new battery-saving feature – the wrong way, and they have decided to shoot back with a test of their own in a new blog post.

We will get past the unprofessionalism of the post (seriously, meme in an official blog post?) and the rather arrogant-sounding writing, and look at how Opera is refuting Microsoft’s claim. As a quick recap, Microsoft reportedly did three independent browser battery tests: in a controlled lab environment, real-world energy telemetry from Windows 10 devices, and time-lapse videos of tested browsers looping the same video until the computer dies.

“Our testing and data show that you can simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge than with Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows 10 devices.”
– Jason Weber, Web Platform team, Microsoft Edge

All of the tests used the latest stable versions of each browser, which, in Edge’s case, should be the latest stable Insider build. Apparently in all three tests, Microsoft Edge came out on top, even against Opera with battery saver on (which might have elicited the response). The real-world telemetry ensures that these are not just theoretical as well.

So how was the test done on Opera’s side? Opera claimed Microsoft “hasn’t revealed its full methodology” so they had to use the same test they did before, which emulates a person’s browsing activities on a Lenovo Yoga 500 in four steps as follow:

Step 1: Configure the system.
Charge the battery to 100%.

Step 2: Load chicagotribune.com, elitedaily.com, faz.net, latimes.com, mashable.com, mlive.com, nj.com, nydailynews.com and youtube.com/watch?v=tnsQ8DjD6YE – in separate tabs.

Step 3: In a loop, scrolling activity was simulated in one of the tabs:

For 30 seconds, pressing of Arrow Down was simulated every 100ms
5 seconds of idle time
For 30 seconds, pressing of Arrow Up was simulated every 100ms
15 seconds of idle time
Step 4: Each minute, the present battery capacity was recorded.

The result, unsurprisingly, shows Opera beating Edge handsomely. Different methodologies aside (although Microsoft’s has been explained quite clearly in the company’s blog posts), there are a few issues identifiable with Opera’s test. First of all is the list of websites the company was using. While Microsoft used “the same website you spend your time on” like Facebook, Google and Amazon, Chicago Tribune or Faz.net don’t sound like a common use case for internet surfers.

“If we get beaten in a test like this, we consider it a bug.” “Better luck next time, Microsoft!”

– Błażej Kaźmierczak, Opera Team

Furthermore, the Opera team might not be using the same version of Microsoft Edge as their Redmond colleagues: the former most likely an old Redstone official build, while the latter “the latest stable build”. Microsoft also actual has real-world telemetry data and even a parallel test by Wall Street Journal to back up their claim, unlike Opera’s single test.

Nevertheless, heated competition between leaders of an industry will only benefit us, the users. Case in point: Microsoft is promising even more battery efficiency for Edge in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update set for this summer. It should be noted that so far Opera has been the only browser maker out of the tested to voice their displeasure, showing that there is at least some truth to Microsoft’s claim. Now that Opera has fired what seems to be a cannon shot back at the Redmond tech giant, it will be interesting to see if it will turn in to an all-out battery test war in the future. Stay tuned for more updates on the Microsoft Edge-Opera duel, and other news in the future.