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Let's talk about cross-browser compatibility

Standard platform, operating system and browser recommendations (May 14)

Introduction

The following post updates our recommendations for platforms, operating systems and browsers to use when testing commercial marketing web sites aimed at the general public in Europe.

Our recommendations are based on usage figures widely available on the Internet, our experience and analysis of client needs. Since modern browser versions change frequently, we review and update these recommendations regularly. (We note that this is easier said than done, and thank our readers for their patience.)

Assumptions

  • The majority of users receive new versions of Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer automatically.
  • Each new version cannibalises the market share of previous versions quickly, i.e. within a quarter.
  • Significant differences in web page display between versions are few and far between.

List of latest stable releases

Desktop browsers

  • Windows XP: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MS-IE) 8
  • Windows Vista: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MS-IE) 9
  • Windows 7: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MS-IE) 11
  • Windows 8.0: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MS-IE) 10
  • Windows 8.1: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MS-IE) 11
  • Chrome stable release 34
  • Firefox (FF) stable release 29
  • Opera stable release 21
  • OS/X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Safari stable release 5.1
  • OS/X 10.7 Lion: Safari stable release 6.1
  • OS/X 10.8 Mountain Lion: Safari stable release 6.1
  • OS/X 10.9 Mavericks: Safari stable release 7.0

Mobile and tablet browsers

  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • iOS 7
  • Windows Phone 8.1

Recommendations

General

  • Invest in the future, not the past. Focus project time and effort on optimising web sites for the next 6-9 months while making sure that popular older combinations are still viewable.
  • Use a range of mainstream devices to ensure coverage of most regular users everyday experience.
  • Avoid testing with specific minor releases unless there are compelling reasons to do so. E.g. a third-party augmented reality (AR) component is known to work with Safari 7.0.1 but not with Safari 7.0.2.
  • Do not invest in a browser if support is discontinued by the manufacturer. E.g. Firefox 3.6 and iOS 5.x. The Windows XP / MS-IE 8 combination remains an anomaly.
  • Do not support beta-release operating systems and browsers. Allow them time to stabilise, be released and become mainstream first. E.g. above 5% market share.

PC operating system recommendations

  • Test with Windows XP, 7, 8 and 8.1 – see below.
  • Do not test with Windows Vista. Market penetration is low and declining.
  • Do not test with Linux. Market penetration is too low.

PC browser recommendations

  • Test with MS-IE 8 on Windows XP. It is an old release with declining penetration and little support from the manufacturer. However, it remains significant for XP users.
  • Test with MS-IE 9 on Windows 7. It is an old release with declining penetration but remains significant for Win 7 users.
  • Test with MS-IE 10 on Windows 8.
  • Test with MS-IE 11 on Windows 8.1.
  • Test with Chrome latest release only.
  • Test with Firefox (FF) latest release only.
  • Do not test with Opera. Market penetration is too low. Exception: Web sites targeted at Eastern Europe, especially Belarus.

Mac desktop operating system recommendations

  • Test with OS/X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
  • Test with OS/X 10.9 Mavericks.

Mac desktop browser recommendations

  • Test with Safari 6 and 7.
  • Test with Chrome latest release only.

General mobile and tablet platform recommendations

  • Test with native browsers only.
  • Test in both landscape & portrait modes.

Apple mobile and tablet platform recommendations

  • Test with iOS 7 using the native Safari browser only.

Android mobile and tablet platform recommendations

  • Test with Android 2.3 Gingerbread using the native browser only.
  • Test with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich using the native browser only.
  • Test with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean using the native browser only.
  • Test with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean using the native browser only.
  • Test with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean using the native browser only.
  • Test with Android 4.4 KitKat using the native browser only.

Other mobile and tablet platform recommendations

  • Do not test with Windows Phone. Market penetration is not significant.
  • Do not test with Blackberry. Market penetration is not significant.
  • Do not test with Firefox, Chrome, Opera or any other non-native third-party mobile browser variants on any mobile or tablet platform. Market penetration is not significant.

Thanks for reading.

Comments? Questions? Let us know!

Sources

MRC


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