Google: Chrome on Windows has become a lot faster recently

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 10, 2021
Updated • Dec 10, 2021
Google Chrome

Google rolled out a new feature called Native Window Occlusion, to all Chrome installations on Windows back in October 2020 with the release of Chrome 86. The company has published information on the performance benefits of the feature now in a new blog post on the Chromium website.

chrome native window occlusion

Native Window Occlusion expands a Chrome feature that throttles the priority of background tabs to reduce the resource usage of the browser and leave "more memory, CPU and GPU for foreground tabs".

Google engineers noticed that some Chrome windows were covered completely by other windows but their priority was not lowered. Google's Native Window Occlusion feature does that to improve the browser's performance. Google notes that "nearly 20% of Chrome windows are completely covered by other windows".

Through experiments, we found that nearly 20% of Chrome windows are completely covered by other windows, i.e., occluded. If these occluded windows were treated like background tabs, our hypothesis was that we would see significant performance benefits. So, around three years ago, we started working on a project to track the occlusion state of each Chrome window in real time, and lower the priority of tabs in occluded windows. We called this project Native Window Occlusion, because we had to know about the location of native, non-Chrome windows on the user’s screen.

Chrome is monitoring the occlusion state of each of the browser's windows in real-time according to lower the priority of open tabs in windows that are occluded completely on Windows.

Performance has improved significantly in core areas according to Google as a result of enabling the occlusion checking feature on Windows.

8.5% to 25.8% faster startup
3.1% reduction in GPU memory usage
20.4% fewer renderer frames drawn overall
4.5% fewer clients experiencing renderer crashes
3.0% improvement in first input delay
6.7% improvement in first contentful paint and largest contentful paint

The faster startup performance is a result of Chrome skipping work for the occluded window to save resources, which may benefit the foreground window.

Google also found out that the feature reduced crashes by 4.5%.

All of the benefits require that Chrome users have at least two Chrome browser windows open on their devices, and that one of these windows is occluded completely on the desktop.

Native Window Occlusion is only available in Chrome for Windows. Google does not reveal if it will bring the feature to Chrome for Mac OS and Linux in the future.

Closing Words

The 20% figure of occluded Chrome windows seems quite high, even though it only takes into account scenarios in which Chrome users have launched at least two Chrome windows on the Windows system.

Now You: how many browser windows do you use usually, and how do you align them?

Google: Chrome on Windows has become a lot faster recently
Article Name
Google: Chrome on Windows has become a lot faster recently
A new feature, called Native Window Occlusion, has improved the performance of the Google Chrome web browser on Windows devices significnatly.
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  1. Anonymous said on January 9, 2022 at 4:04 am

    Cool – how can I disable this??

  2. Antti said on December 22, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Yeah, but does it come with diagonal tabs? Or are we still forced to use v.68?

  3. Anonymous said on December 17, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Everyone has to die one day

  4. ULBoom said on December 10, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Seems like another metric for the sake of measuring something undetectable to users but good for a year end bonus.

    If the issues they cited are noticeable problems you have 100 or something crazy windows open or your device is underpowered.

    Chromium opens fresh in about a second or two for me so a few percentage points better wouldn’t matter. If it took a minute to open, I’d never notice either unless the improvements were huge.

    1. Anonymous said on December 11, 2021 at 2:59 am

      The more windows you don’t view the more performance gain.

  5. Neutrino said on December 10, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Don’t abbreviate Native Window Occlusion… I mean ever!!!

    Has anyone complained about Chrome being faster lately? Or they are now just getting data outta their a** to get some people back from Brave/FF?

    1. ULBoom said on December 10, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      Well, those people would first have to know about this, then think it means something (it doesn’t.) I’ll file this speed revelation as this weeks high vapor pressure announcement, gone by tomorrow.

    2. John G. said on December 10, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      NWO, New World Order, well at least it sounds pretty ‘curious’ to some people. :]

  6. Ghakx said on December 10, 2021 at 7:24 am

    After quite a sophisticated round of testing amongst the various browsers available, I found Chrome to be the best at rendering live streaming TV in Windows 10 at least for me.

    It offered the best streaming experience for my two news channels – In Australia – and offered the highest resolution, where others would be lower and choppier.

    It is not my primary choice of Browser, you know with all my Bookmarks – that belongs to the fabulous Firefox – but it seems the video playback architecture in Chrome suits me the best, so far as streaming TV.

    Please note, I have several security, ad-blocking and browser anonymizing plugins running in firefox but of course I disabled all of those when doing my own tests.

    Hello fellow Ghakx users

    1. jasper said on December 11, 2021 at 11:05 am

      most likely got faster by fixing all those zero days in the wild

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