According to Microsoft, ‘the faster your browser, the higher your Penguin Mark score goes’. However, as Penguin Mark has been designed by Microsoft it is not exactly an independent benchmark for web browser speeds.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that IE10 (included in Windows 8) scores a seemingly impossible amount higher than its main rivals… In my own tests, Firefox scored a lowly 56 and IE9 wasn’t much better with 84. Chrome improved slightly with 146 but IE10 managed more than 4,000.
Reports from other testers confirm that, generally, the first 3 browsers score less than 200 but IE10 regularly makes 4000+ and beyond – Microsoft’s own graphic shows an astonishing 24,281 score. Just what is going on here – have Microsoft managed to create the speediest web browser ever known to science, truly hundreds of times quicker than its rivals?
Err, no. The test must be rigged very heavily in favor of specific IE10 features – that’s the only logical way it could produce blazingly fast scores which are so out of kilter with independent tests. Compare how well the browsers support HTML5 here – IE10 comes in third, behind Chrome and Firefox.
I haven’t found any meaningful info on what Penguin Mark is actually testing but when I reran the tests on an older laptop (Celeron, 2GB RAM, multiboot Vista/W7/W8) the results were enlightening – all 4 browsers scored zero despite running the test successfully.
Clearly Microsoft’s assertion that ‘the faster your browser, the higher your Penguin Mark score goes’ is not true in this case. Even IE10 failed to score a point, despite all the browsers on this laptop being able to run intensive HTML5 games, videos and apps perfectly well.
I am guessing that the test requires some aspects of GPU hardware acceleration that are only well supported by IE10, and not at all by older graphics adapters – which might be fine if you could actually find some real-world examples that rely solely on those features.
You can try Penguin Mark for yourself here – hit your mute button first if you don’t want the annoying Alvin and Chipmunks style music.
However, a test that produces zero scores for all browsers on a perfectly usable laptop does not command much respect and the ridiculous gap between browser test results also suggests some serious bias in the methodology. If you’re looking for an independent or real-world comparison of browsers, look elsewhere.
IE10 currently performs well in most independent tests – certainly comparable in speed to its main rivals.
In terms of marketing IE, Microsoft seemed to be on the right track with their ‘Browser you loved to hate’ campaign which issued an ironic challenge to IE haters and their ‘It Might Surprise You’ campaign.
And then they launch ‘Penguin Mark’…