The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 3

On 16 January 2013, I posted the introduction to this new experiment of mine: give Internet Explorer another chance by using Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 as my primary browser for fourteen days, documenting what I love, what I hate, and what makes me generally say "meh". These are my thoughts from day three of my experience.

A Day of Light Use

Today was an interesting day for me, but unfortunately my Internet usage was a bit lower than I had anticipated—about half of normal. As a result, today’s thoughts are a bit shorter than normal.

Adjustment Period

I think I’m finally starting to get used to Internet Explorer. I found myself complaining about the browser considerably less than I have in the last several days—I even found several things I rather like about the browser.

For example, the search feature in Internet Explorer allows me to search by the whole word—or by identical case. This makes it easier to find some things that would often have fragments in other words—it also makes it a bit easier to find and correct capitalisation issues on my own website.

Another little thing I came to like was that, when I click on a link within a favourites folder on the favourites bar, the folder will stay open as long as I keep my mouse where it needs to be. This makes it great when I need to open a few pages out of the same favourites folder. Google Chrome is a bit hastier with how it handles your bookmarks and snaps the bookmarks folder shut after it opens the first link you click.

Memory Usage

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Not only is the search fairly nifty in Internet Explorer, my experience seems to suggest that Internet Explorer 10 uses quite a lot less in the memory department to do its dirty work. While this seems like a silly thing to really take a close look at in an age where even smartphones are really cranking-up the memory, it’s important to realise memory does still matter on lower-end machines like consumer-grade laptops and tablets.

Now, my desktop has 12 gigabytes of RAM. It’s not a ton of RAM, but it’s not a little bit either. My laptop, on the other hand, only has 4 gigabytes of RAM—as will the Surface Pro I intend to get as soon as I can. 4 gigabytes goes remarkably fast—and anything I can do to spare memory for the better operation of my device is welcome.

Taking this into consideration, I went ahead and compared the memory usage of both Internet Explorer 10 and Google Chrome 24. Now, my samples are far from extensive, but did a little test in which I opened the same three browser tabs, let the browser sit for a minute after it finished loading them, and then cranked-open Calculator X8 and did a little bit of maths. In "normal" mode, Google Chrome consumed 384.8 MB whereas Internet Explorer consumed only 225 MB. Chrome uses 183.8% the memory that IE10 does—that’s nearly 2x the memory—for the same tabs. Flipped the other way, that means that IE10 uses only 54.4% the memory that Chrome does for the same tabs.

I considered the possibility, however, that a large chunk of that memory usage was likely affected by the extensions I have installed for both browsers. I cracked open the InPrivate Browsing mode for Internet Explorer (and closed all the "normal" IE tabs) and then opened up the same tabs in Chrome’s Incognito mode. As I have these browsers setup, this effectively disables all my extensions. Once again, I snapped open my calculator and started to press the buttons. In their own private browsing modes, Google Chrome used 322 MB and Internet Explorer used 190.4 MB. Basically, Chrome uses 169.1% the memory that IE10 does in InPrivate Browsing (add-on free) mode. That’s about 1.5x the memory—for the same tabs. Again, looking at that data from the other direction, that means that Internet Explorer 10 uses 59.1% the memory that Chrome does in Incognito (extension-free) mode.

It’s really no wonder why my laptop seems to like Internet Explorer more.

Pinning Sites to the Start Screen

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One of the features I’m still trying to wrap my head around is pinning websites to the Start Screen. In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice, I’m not so sure.

It’s convenient to have a quick way to jump right into your browser from the start screen, yes. But how often do you actually use the Start Screen to navigate to anywhere on the Internet? Once I have the browser open, I always use the favourites bar to jump between the various places I go—or, I just use the address bar itself.

Then there’s another odd issue. You can pin a site in Desktop Internet Explorer—and then pin it again in Modern UI Internet Explorer. Why isn’t the behaviour between these two versions of Internet Explorer a little less… bipolar? I tend to prefer Chrome’s implementation of the Modern UI vs. Desktop issue: once it’s been opened in the desktop—it stays there, unless it gets switched. Then it stays in the Modern UI. This would remove the need to have two separate pinned favourites on the start screen for when you want to open a link.

Pinning Tabs

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I like to keep my email pinned in Google Chrome so that I can just jump straight into when the need arises. Yeah, the Windows Mail app is fine, but there’s something about how beautiful Outlook.com is that keeps pulling me to the site itself. Insofar as I can tell, Internet Explorer doesn’t really have an equivalent or even comparable feature.

TPLs

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When I commented about the change I made to my hosts file yesterday to implement strong ad-blocking in Internet Explorer, many people commented that the "proper" way to do ad-blocking in Internet Explorer involves the use of Tracking Protection Lists. Now—these I’ve used from the start of this experiment—even a little before when I was goofing around with the browser shortly after I installed Windows 8 developer preview on my laptop. To experience the Internet Explorer TPL ad-blocking properly, I went ahead and reverted the changes to my hosts file.

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The Tracking Protection Lists are pretty nice—you can even have several going at the same time. The problem I’m finding is that, as a means of ad-blocking, they don’t catch as much as they should. There were a handful of sites I visited today that had some "nice", flashy ad telling me just how much I wanted a shiny new computer case. Pre-roll ads on YouTube were also annoyingly present again.

Final Thoughts for Day Three

I don’t hate Internet Explorer.

Yeah, that’s weird to say.

I don’t. I really don’t. It’s quick. I’m finally wrapping my head around how to take full advantage of it. It even has a few features I rather like. Someone save me, I think I’m being seduced by an Internet browser!

What Should I Focus on for the Next Couple of Days?

I've focused pretty heavily on some of the little things. What are other aspects of browser usage at which I should take a closer look for day four and five's report?

Also in This Series

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 0

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 1

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 2

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Days 4 & 5

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Days 6 & 7