Microsoft Has First Major Impact on Chrome

Posted on August 17, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge with 50 Comments

Thanks to the open-source nature of Chromium, Microsoft has had its first major and positive impact on Chrome, Google’s web browser. Thanks to a feature request from Microsoft, Google will issue a change to Chromium, the open-source project by which Google makes Chrome, that significantly improves battery life.

“Today, media content is cached to disk during acquisition and playback,” Microsoft’s Shawn Pickett explains in his change suggestion for Chromium. “Keeping the disk active during this process increases power consumption in general, and [it] can also prevent certain lower-power modes from being engaged in the operating system. Since media consumption is a high-usage scenario, this extra power usage has a negative impact on battery life. This change will prevent the caching of certain media content to disk for the purpose of improving device battery life for users.”

And Microsoft knows battery life. Aside from being the makers of the most popular desktop operating system on which Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers are run, it also spent several years optimizing battery life in its previous versions of Microsoft Edge. And then it would publicize the results, in which classic Edge routinely outperformed the battery life in Chrome and other browsers.

And Google’s on board. For now, the change is being tested as an experimental feature in Chrome Canary—the nightly builds of Chrome 78—which needs to be enabled by default: Just open chrome://flags and search for “Turn off caching of streaming media to disk.” (This works in Chrome for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android.)

And if all goes as well as expected, it will be implemented and enabled by default in the browser.

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