Chrome vs IE9

IE9 beta is available, and I finally decided to give it a spin. I wanted to actually title this post: Internet Explorer 9: the complete circle. Why? Because, it is a full circle for me, the moment I downloaded IE9. Let me explain:

  • Years ago, after getting fed up with IE, I shifted to Firefox. At that time of course, I used Internet Explorer to download Firefox and installed it. And that made Firefox my primary browser.
  • A couple of years ago, when Chrome was released, I used Firefox to download Chrome and installed it. And that made Chrome my primary browser.
  • A few hours ago, I used Chrome to download Internet Explorer 9 beta and installed it.

It remains to be seen whether IE9 will become my primary browser, but just after a few clicks in the browser, I am actually pleased so far. This post is being written side by side as I quickly take IE9 for a spin, and record my impression so far.

And wherever it is relevant, I will compare it to my current primary browser: Chrome.

Installation experience:

After downloading it, I ran the installer and was immediately presented with this screen:

First Step

I thought that it is installing some pre-requisites, which it might be downloading. After a while, it showed me this screen:

Step 2

And there, we were done – a one-click installation. It didn’t ask me anything about making this browser the default, or anything else.

I would have liked to see more info, since this was beta, about what components it is updating, since IE9 is well integrated into the OS, I was worried it might update some core OS components with beta versions.

Anyway, I like the clean setup overall. Less work for me if I don’t have to digest any information during installation.

First look, I opened the browser

The first thing that hit me when I started the browser for the first time is this screen:

starting screen

Note: this screen actually only shows the first time you run the browser, so since I didn’t capture it at that time, I had to copy this screenshot from the article that engadget ran.

I think this is brilliant. I have written before about how add-ons can really slow down Internet Explorer, and this basically makes that fact available to everyone in their face. Since IE8, Internet Explorer shows you how much time any add-on takes to load in the Manage Add-ons screen. Notice how it asks you to specify what your comfort level is for how long in total all add-ons installed on your browser should take, and it will inform you if the total add-on time goes above that.

My only crib with this is that in a couple of scans of the menu items and options, I couldn’t find where I can change that time on the bottom once I set it up in the beginning.

Moving on:

Here’s what Internet Explorer 9 looks like with only one tab open.


And here’s what Chrome looks like with one tab open:


Things to notice:

  • I noticed that the logo in Chrome is smaller than the logo in Internet Explorer. I found it weird till it turned out that the HTML that was rendered is different in Chrome than the one in Internet Explorer, and both refer to different logo files with different image sizes.
  • Another thing to notice is that the available space is a little bit more in Internet Explorer – as an effect of it combining the address bar and tabs in the same vertical space (this is however not always true, see below).
  • I opened both the windows in Private Browsing mode (or Incognito as Chrome calls it). The indications for both are wildly different. Its very clear in Internet Explorer, and reflected in the address bar. In Chrome it is indicated by the icon in the top left corner.

The vertical space in Chrome and IE9 is about the same when both are maximized though. This is because when Chrome is maximized, it moves the tabs to the vertical space besides the control box. The above screenshots are not taken in maximized mode. See below for what I mean:


The above is when Chrome is maximized, and the below is with Chrome in normal window state:


I have my browser window maximized and normal equal number of times, so I am guessing Internet Explorer 9 wins in terms of maximizing viewable area of the browser.

Speed test:

While this is not really a speed test proper, I went and clocked the speed of 3 of the sites that I visit daily, and did so 5 times each to get average speeds for start to completely loaded on a stopwatch.

I did this after clearing cache, and in the private mode so there is nothing stored in each session. Each time, I closed the previous window and opened another one.

Here are the average site load times:

  • Reddit – Chrome 8.4s, and IE9 5.4s
  • Youtube – Chrome 2.9s, and IE9 2.5s
  • Cricinfo – Chrome 6.9d, and IE9 6.2s

While they are close (with IE being slightly faster), on reddit for some reason, Chrome was always taking much longer. I bet there are sites out there where Chrome would be much faster than IE9 too.

But IE9 is really fast, loads really fast, and feels really fast.

Minor annoyance:

The one thing that Chrome has that no other browser does is that a lot of thought had gone in its usability. The best feature of Chrome for me is that when I have a lot of tabs open and I want to close some of them quickly, I can basically click multiple times on the same spot, since Chrome doesn’t resize tabs when your mouse is on the tab bar. IE9 and other browsers do. If you don’t know what I am talking about, try doing this:

  • Open IE9/Firefox and open 20 new tabs.
  • Now select the first tab.
  • Now using your mouse, start closing the tabs. You will notice that as more space becomes available on the tab bar, the tab sizes start expanding, which moves the location of the close button from under your mouse. So to close the next tab, you have to move your mouse.

Now do the same thing in Chrome.

There are other special things:

For example, the most popular sites ‘dial’ which shows on a new tab displays an indication (in the form of a colored bar on each site box) conveying how often you use that site. This bar seems to be in the dominant color in the site’s favicon. See below:


There are overall many improvements in terms of UI, and I like them all.

There are still some issues though in UI and usability:

  • The options and menus can do with a complete overhaul. They are the same as the earlier versions, and a nightmare for casual users.
  • Options being opened in modal dialog boxes.

There are many more things that are nice in the new browser, and I am certainly going to be exploring them (a big reason is that when I use software such as SharePoint, there are limitations when using it from Chrome). I am really hoping that this will be a good browser, and I will switch to it, completing the circle back to IE.

70 thoughts on “Chrome vs IE9”

  1. Another thing missing in IE which I love about Chrome is the ability to take any tab and drag it to a new window. You won’t even believe how easy that makes life on a multi-monitor computer.

        1. @HHH – if you look at the other comments, I did get it to work. Also I mentioned that you can’t do this on an empty tab (which is what I was trying).

        2. Just click and drag the tab off the window that it is currently on, release your mouse button and it instantly becomes a new window.

      1. Yup – I found out why it wasn’t working for me, which is another problem with IE. It doesn’t let you drag out a tab unless the tab contains an open webpage (try dragging out a new tab window, and it won’t work).

        1. Yes it will! I should know since I use it all the time. Try doing a debug or reinstalling it, if you have the rc or beta uninstall them and reinstall the new version from the ms website.

  2. When I open a new window, it always opens whatever is set in the Home page setting. I wanted it to open the “New Tab” page which has my most frequently visited sites.

    In order to do that, you need to make “about:Tabs” as the value of your homepage. This wasn’t obvious.

  3. And another thing which Chrome has and I love is “Paste and Go”… it prevents me to press an enter key which is how it should be.

    IE9, please copy this feature!

    1. The Different Colors are because to show from where the link originated

      Ex 1st Tab – Twitter ( You click on a link here and new tab opens up so both will have same color !! :)

  4. And I am still not sure if I like it that each tab is a different window in the task bar (which means in Win 7, they all stack up on that icon). So far I have found it to be an incredible annoyance. But maybe I will get used to it (I think it just slows me down).

    1. Without that, Aero Peek (pointing your mouse to the IE Symbol in the Taskbar and seeing all open tabs as live thumbnails) would not work. Compare it to Chrome, which doesn’t use Aero Peek. Now that i got used to it, i really wouldn’t wanna live without it.
      A Disadvantage of Aero Peek is that you have to use the mouse and move to the taskbar. As a keyboard alternative, you could enable Tabs Quickview (via Internet Settings/Tab Settings) and use ctrl-Q in IE to get a thumbnail preview of all open tabs within its current window.

      1. Yup. That is kinda why I said I am not sure if I like it.

        Regularly, I have like 20 tabs open, which can be a pain when using AeroPeek.

        And many times I also have more than one browser window open with multiple tabs, and the same website can be open in both (I might be developing, or comparing stuff). The AeroPeek feature is a disaster in such scenarios.

        1. This is a setting which can be changed. Go to “Internet options”. In the “General” tab, in the “Tabs” section, click “Settings”. The “Tabbed Browsing Settings” dialog opens. Uncheck “Show previews for individual tabs in the taskbar*”. Restart your browser for the change to take effect.

    2. Try holding Ctrl key while clicking on IE icon in taskbar. It won’t show thumbnails & take you directly to your last opened tab!

    1. One reboot sucks? Really?

      As to the ‘Why’: It’s simply the price for deep system integration. Part if IEs libraries are used to render things in the windows shell, and since those are in use at the time of installation, a reboot is necessary. That was the case for all IE installations since it exists.
      Given the fact such an installation usually happens less than once a year, I’d say it’s no big deal.

      1. Yeah I think it does suck. Is it too much of a hassle to warrant not installing the app… no? But if you are comparing to other browsers, it sucks.

    2. Ummm… Travis, the second screenshot shows clearly that it requires a reboot. :)

      And yeah, it would be better without a reboot. In my case it wasn’t painful because I had recently rebooted so didn’t have too many things open anyway.

      Though I understand that a reboot is required because of how well IE9 integrates with the OS.

      1. He said you didn’t mention WHY it required a reboot.

        And to Christian, yes one reboot SUCKs, even on my sick
        fast 12gb i7 machine, I dislike rebooting. Rebooting unequivocally stops your progress, even with super fast
        booting/rebooting you still need to reestablish where you were. I know I know you love IE, but that IS a downside.

  5. Actually that is one of the things I kinda liked from IE8, I can do ALT+TAB to move between tabs if I have multiple tabs opened. Also when you close chrome with multiple tabs it closes the whole window, whereas in IE it prompts you to close the current tab or all tabs which

    1. Yes. But, I anyway turn off that setting – asking it to close all tabs anyway (in IE).

      Also, what I hate is that when there is only one tab open in IE, I can’t close it (and hence close the window). I have to use the close window option.

  6. Like Travispunk says, Ie9 requires reboot. Thats a con.

    Ie9 has 95 points on acid test 3, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and other browsers, got 100 points since long ago. Another con.

    What about plug ins, Chrome and Firefox got an extensive library of them. I think this is gonna be a con.

    You said it loads the webpages faster, im gonna wait for decent bentchmarks to really belive it.

    I liked the idea of bigger view, looks cool, i hope Chrome copies it lol. Thats a pro.

    Ie9 doesnt look bad, but still, i think its far away from being as good as other browsers.

    1. Actually, IE9 does have plugins – they are called Ad-ons. There are plenty of them around too (though I agree not as many as Firefox or Chrome). I think that can be changed if Microsoft makes a big push towards add-on development by the developer community.

      With regards to Acid 3 test, yeah I don’t get why IE developers can’t just do this. How hard can it be?

    2. An average user doesn’t want a browser to support excellent HTML5 and JavaScript, but lack speed. What matters most that the browser can start and load websites quickly.

  7. I love IE. Only until recently have I switched to Chrome, but this may get me back to IE, especially if IE has the tab-dragging feature that Chrome has – that is awesome!

  8. Testei o Internet Explorer 9 em meu computador de testes, achei ele bem leve, mas ao reiniciar o computador a tela azul da morte do Windows apareceu, sem contar que algumas páginas reconheceram o IE9 como o IE6, um exemplo disso é o Orkut, que falou para atualizar o navegador devido que o browser estava ultrapassado.

    Dei várias rizadas!

    1. Actually, you are right. It was the public release that I was running. It’s just that I don’t want my primary browser to be a beta build (Chrome is my primary browser).

      Do you want to make a comparison? I will be glad to link to it from here.

  9. vaibhav, your ideas were really useful. but what you think when it comes to platform independency.. chrome works in all platform.. but ie9 it is compatible only with windows7.

    1. Yes, that is correct. Which is why reviews such as mine have to be taken with a bit of salt. I don’t use any other platform than Windows… and currently all my computers are running Windows 7 – so for me, it doesn’t matter.

      However, for others who are not on Windows, IE9 is not even a factor, and for those who are on multiple platforms, Chrome is a better choice since you can use it across platforms.

  10. Three things.
    One, Chrome for Linux is not equivalent to Chrome on Windows, you have to compile it, discouraging for my doctor friends who love Ubuntu.
    Two, IE9 blog is hosted on WordPress, open source stuff. :-)
    Three, you can pin down site to your task bar.

    Sadly, just to use IE9 I will have to run XP inside VirtualBox.

      1. Nopes, it never was, I have been doing sudo apt-get install for 99% of stuff I have on my box. Its just the Chrome Windows version !== Chrome Ubuntu Versions. And thanks for pointing to Chromium Browser, I almost forgot after reading about it on Wiki.

        1. Actually, if you go to the same exact place where you would install chrome for windows, there is a self installing debian package that the website automatically sends you to, its not “Click-Once” but its NO different than a setup.exe … Now getting Flash to work at least on 64 bit is another story =P

  11. Alright, here’s another annoyance – so it turns out that I CAN drag a tab from IE9 to create a new window. However, I cannot do that if that tab is empty (i.e. it is a new tab with no site loaded).

    Why would they do that?

  12. @Simen
    Most of the user interfaces that provide tabbed windows support Ctrl + W to close tabs. Try it in Chrome and FF. I use Ubuntu, and normally use Ctrl + W to close tabs, files and Ctrl + Q to quit the application.

  13. One nice thing that just happened while using IE9 – it detected that it wasn’t going to be able to display a website so it went into compatibility mode on its own.

    1. 64 bit will run on a 64 bit operating system and have access to more memory, 32 bit will run on a 32 bit operating system?

  14. however, x64 version is in place for when adobe come up with a 64 bit flash which it presently doesn’t have. untill then we all need to use the X86 ( 32-bit) regardless of OS

  15. IE9 looks more like chrome rip off, the only bright side is that it is finally (thank you god) CSS 3.0 compliant) this makes alot of web developers very happy, because in every previous version we have had to use hack’s or redirects to get simple things like rounded corners to display properly.

    1. I have to take this back after doing some initial testing in the IE9 beta browser I’m all ready seeing some serious .css bugs. Alignments simple things, it’s crazy Microsoft should scrap and start from scratch with this browser Oh my God !

  16. Below the “Enable tab groups” option is a greyed-out option “Open each new tab next to the current tab”. I hope this is the feature that disappeared with IE8’s tab grouping. Right now, although the greyed-out checkbox is checked, both brand new tabs and tabs opened from links open to the far right of the current tab group. This is a simple feature I’m hoping for but it’s important to many people so let’s hope it returns.

    Other than that, I’m enjoying the space-saving design, especially the status bar replacement.

  17. The reddit takes longer in chrome because, you are loggedin in chrome and server takes that much extra time to filter front page stories from your selected subreddits only. 😛

    The rendering times are in fraction of a second. The loading time is definitely browser independent. Frankly, the rendering time is already so small, that it wouldn’t matter if it is reduced.

      1. To ensure that Chrome was running as fast as it should have been, you need to reinstall it, giving it just as much run-time as IE. Even if you go incognito, there is still data in chromes files. Reinstall chrome, redo the tests and post these, then its a fair fight.

        And as far as the whole vertical height goes, its like 3 freaking pixels.

        And one last thing…. Microsoft OBVIOUSLY took chrome’s ideas and tried to make it seem like they didnt. Its like the 10th grade english paper that is obviously plagiarized, but the kid changes some words and gets credit for writing an amazing paper.
        (to be continued upon reply)

        1. Fair enough. I just tried the test on Reddit again. And IE9 is still twice as fast on that particular site. I use both IE9 and Chrome regularly, so I think they are not at par in terms of how much usage has gone into them.

          I again launched the incognito mode for both of them, and just opened Not sure why it takes so much longer on Chrome.

          And yes, Microsoft has obviously taken a leaf from Google’s book – when it comes to IE9 (just as they have taken a leaf from Apple’s book, when it comes to Windows Phone 7). But, what do I care as a consumer – if it gives me an overall better product.

          3 pixels? Funny, you are. Agreed, it’s not that big an issue, but hey, it is still a difference.

  18. @Vaibhav Yeah Microsoft is the best at stealing other people idea’s and making them slightly better. However, IE is not a good example. lol

  19. Compare Chrome and IE9 while browsing, you will see IE is still missing some CSS abilities.

  20. i thought that perhaps Google crome offers more in the way of access to faster speeds. However i do not find that disabling add ons would be a good idea as perhaps i may use them a lot. therefore Crome is better for me. then again it is usless if you are not a Crome person.

  21. Just for kicks, I was testing IE8 & found it crashed at anywhere from 4 to 20 tabs…

    Then, it would crash trying to recover them in an endless loop till I ended them all. Let’s not forget the automatic drive by download & install process malware always does when someone is using Internet Exploder, LOL!

    I had up to 1611 tabs open in Firefox 3 something a while back with the only problem being that it started to run a little slow because of my memory running short…

    I haven’t tried that in FF4 or FF5 yet, but I do have FF5 at the moment.

    Chrome + Opera are fast, but their tabs shrink to needle thing slices as you open more, + their shortcomings quickly pile up the more you are doing.

    I’d take Chrome or Opera any day over IE, but Firefox has proven to be the only one that is both functional, fast, & stable enough to do what I want it to do in everyday computing with the features & privacy I have come to expect!

  22. IE9 is THA BOMB !
    i have used EVERY browser available !
    I have different computers with different OS(windows, mac, linux) and all with firefox or chrome or ie or safari etc…

    believe me, Internet Explorer Rules !

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