Google Chrome will gobble less memory on Windows 10, following Microsoft Edge

A Google Chrome sticker

Chrome memory usage should decrease as Google adopts technology already in Microsoft Edge for Windows 10.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Lots of us gripe about browser memory usage, a problem that gets worse as browsers become more powerful software foundations and websites get correspondingly hefty. Technology from Microsoft’s Edge could help you cut memory use by up to 27% on Windows, though, and the technology is coming to Google Chrome, too.

Microsoft’s Edge team added the memory improvement with Windows 10’s May update, Edge Principal Product Manager Kim Denny said this week. The benefits are enabled by a modernization of Windows 10’s system for managing memory.

And Bruce Dawson, a Google Chrome programmer, added a patch to let Chrome take advantage of the same underlying technology. Chrome memory usage should drop, too, he said on Chrome’s bug tracker, but Google has to iron out “mysterious” problems building the new version before it’ll show up on your laptop.

Memory is a crucial but scarce resource on all computing devices and any success in cutting memory is important. As browsers have grown from apps that display documents into an increasingly powerful foundation for apps, their memory usage has grown, too. And web apps today usually rely on prebuilt frameworks that make software easier to build but that can gobble memory.

With Microsoft’s decision to drop its own browser foundation and switch to Google’s open-source Chromium software, Chrome and Edge are becoming close cousins. Microsoft released the overhauled Edge in January, but the company is still testing it before pushing it to everyone through its Windows update service.

Microsoft’s contributions to Chromium have been significant, with more than 3,000 contributions to the Chromium code base so far.

Google has pointed to Microsoft’s contributions, including improvements to Chromium user interface features like buttons and sliders and overhauled grid layout technology that should make life easier for web developers struggling to make their websites work well on browsers that work slightly differently.

But it’s not all collegiality.

Google shows ads to Edge users on properties like search, Gmail and Google Docs saying they should switch to Chrome. And Microsoft likewise tells Outlook users they should switch from Chrome to Edge.

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