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We have profoundly tested Microsoft´s new Spartan browser for Windows 10 with the most challenging benchmarks around. While Spartan´s new interactive features look promising, performance will continue to be a key factor.

The EdgeHTML-engine of Microsoft´s new Spartan browser can be activated since the January build of Windows 10 (build 9926). Once you tweak it by entering the about:flags command in the adress-bar, Internet Explorer 11 turns into Internet Explorer 12. The Trident 7 rendering engine gets replaced by Edge 12.

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Some sites did quick benchmarks, highlighting the improved javascript performance of Spartans EdgeHTML. We wanted to know more, especially about how Spartan performs with WebGL and it´s conformity with the newest HTML5-standards.

To have a full picture, we ran Spartan´s Edge 12 engine with a full set of the following benchmarks (see summary table at the end):

 

Peacekeeper from Futuremark: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Peacekeeper is a combined benchmark-test for the most important features of modern rendering engines. It runs individual benchmarks for Rendering, HTML5 WebGL, HTML5 – Video, HTML5 Web Worker, HTML5 Game, HTML5 Canvas, JavaScript Arrays, DOM operations and Text parsing.

This is how Spartan did against Internet Explorer in Windows 10 and the newest beta versions of Firefox 36 and Chrome 41.

Browsermark from Rightware: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Like Peacekeeper, Browsermark is a combined test for many different aspects. It uses five different test groups with sub-tests for CSS performance, DOM operations, graphic performance with Canvas, SVG and WebGL, Javascript and conformance with CSS3 and HTML5.

This is how Spartan performs with the Browsermark benchmark against IE11 in Windows 10, Firefox 36 Beta and Chrome 41 Beta.

Octane Javascript Benchmark: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Google´s Octane replaced its V8 Benchmark Suite as their standard Javascript benchmark. The final score is computed as the geometric mean of individual results to make it independent of the running times of the individual benchmarks and of a reference system (score 100).

Minesweeper HTML5 + Javascript: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Microsoft´s Minesweeper benchmark combines WebKits Sunspider benchmark with a graphically intensive game. It measures the needed time for clicking all the Minesweeper squares.

Fishbowl HTML5 Canvas: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Microsoft´s Fishbowl benchmark tests HTML5 Canvas graphics. It uses frames per second (FPS) to measure the ability to animate a lively glass full of little fishies with 12 graphical layers for different visual effects.

FishGL HTML5 WebGL: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

Microsoft´s FishGL benchmark uses HTML5 WebGL to display an interactive room with an aquarium in its center. Like in the Fishbowl benchmark it counts how many frames per second the browser can display for this graphically intensive web-app.

Babylon.js HTML5 WebGL: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

The Babylon.js Train benchmark is one of the most demanding WebGL benchmarks around. It uses a complex train-simulation created with 3dsmax. For those who might question the independence of Microsoft´s FishGL benchmark, this is a great independent alternative.

HTML5TEST: Spartan Browser vs. IE11 vs. Google Chrome 41 vs. Mozilla Firefox 36

The html5test checks checks conformity of webbrowsers with the official HTML5 specification, specifications that are related to HTML5 and some experimental new features that are extensions of HTML5.

Summary

As you can see, Microsoft´s new Spartan browser declassifies Internet Explorer in most categories. Javascript performance has increased drastically. Nevertheless, Spartan is slightly behind Chrome and Firefox handling JavaScript – with a minimal gap.

In terms of WebGL however, Spartans EdgeHTML engine is the fastest you will find. In Microsoft´s FishGL benchmark Spartan can kick off Firefox from the top-position with a whopping 31 FPS. The Babylon.js Train WebGL test confirms that top position for Spartan, even though the numbers and positions are different for the other browsers. As WebGL might become one of the most important technologies for complex and interactive websites like google maps, this is a big plus.

In terms of compatibility with HTML5 and related standards, EdgeHTML is not gaining ground. Looking at the differences between Spartan, IE, Chrome and Firefox, it appears that Microsoft is reluctant to implement certain features.

The browser-videochat WebRTC is missing, as well as Web Audio API, PCM- and Ogg Vorbis audio support. But these are quite special features many users don´t need.

A bit annoying are some still missing 2D Graphics features which Chrome and Firefox already support. The biggest drawback for the masses is related to security. Both IE11 and Spartan still don´t support the so called Content Security Policy while Chrome and Firefox do.

Using a Microsoft browser makes you more vulnerable to Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks which trick a site into delivering malicious code along with the intended content.

If Microsoft fills these little gaps until the final release of Windows 10, Spartan could become a huge success.

[table id=1 /] * FPS for the Babylon.js Train benchmark are calculated as an average of seven observations/moments.

 

 Specs of the testing machine

  • ASRock H97M Pro4 Intel H97
  • Intel Core i7 4770K 4x 3.50GHz
  • 8GB (2x 4096MB) Corsair Vengeance Black DDR3-1600 DIMM CL8-8-8-24
  • SSD 128GB Samsung 840 Pro Series 2.5″
  • Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9929
  • Intel HD Graphics 4600