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New study crowns Google's Chrome king of speed

Which is the fastest browser of all? According to a study that excluded Mozilla's Firefox Minefield alpha browser release, Chrome wins the title, breezing past Safari, Opera, and IE.

Mozilla's Firefox has long breezed past Internet Explorer, which is fast becoming the Buick of browsers: comfortable, safe, but little pizazz.

Google has upped the ante, as ExtremeTech discovers, blowing past Firefox 3, Apple's Safari, Opera, and IE in a recent performance test.

Given that ExtremeTech didn't review Mozilla's cutting-edge Minefield (Firefox alpha) browser release, which has been pegged as 10 percent faster than Chrome, Mozilla may still be the speed champion, but Google Chrome does push past its Firefox 3 browser.

Importantly, ExtremeTech didn't do a one-dimensional drag race between the browsers:

When you see speed tests for (a) browser that claim "Chrome loads faster," it's important to ask a few questions: loaded when, over what broadband speed, with what other apps running, on what machine?

With this in mind, ExtremeTech put the browsers through a battery of tests, including how the browsers performed with Flash, compatibility, JavaScript, and more. The conclusion?

Based on our arbitrary score assignments, Google Chrome is the speed king...Google uses its own knowledge of search and browsing habits to optimize Chrome, but Chrome is still in early development. It's also clear from our testing that Microsoft really needs to get IE 8 out the door--IE 7 not only has compatibility issues, but is substantially slower in many ways. Firefox 3.1 should also improve Firefox's scores.

What does it all really mean? For one thing, take a close look at your browser usage. Are you still using the default browser that came with your system? You may want to re-examine that. The end result may be a much more pleasant and productive Web experience.

Interestingly, IE 7 and Safari didn't even place in the competition, with only Firefox and Chrome really competing across the board. Microsoft needs to step up--big time--with IE 8, and Mozilla will, of course, continue to improve Firefox in its more iterative approach to innovation.

But for now, with Google Chrome expected to ship preinstalled on some desktops, Microsoft and Mozilla have a real fight on their hands. Who has the advantage? Consumers.