How important is multi-browser support for specific apps?

In a thread on the OakTable mailing list, James Morle pointed out that Oracle’s Web Conferencing software was IE only. A point that has been mentioned by Jake from The AppsLab a number of times in relation to his need for a Windows VM on his Mac. The discussion turned to the relative browser share and multi-browser support. This post is a minor rearrangement of my posts to that thread.

Before I launch into the body of the post, keep in mind I am talking about complex (typically GUI style) apps with a specific purpose that run from within a browser, not just general web pages!

The breakdown of browser stats from my website over the last month was.

  • Internet Explorer: 42.32%
  • Firefox: 38.68%
  • Chrome: 15.19%

Which is pretty similar to those figures quoted in the summary on Wikipedia.

  • Internet Explorer: 43.55%
  • Firefox: 29.0%
  • Chrome: 13.89%

That surprised me because in the past I’ve always found my stats for IE much lower than the general stats quoted. I’ve always assumed this was because Oracle geeks try out alternative browsers much more than the general public. Most “normal” people I know use IE. Most geeks I know don’t. Now they seem to match. Does this mean more regular folk are moving to Firefox & Chrome, or is this all being skewed by browsers on mobile devices?

The stats for mobile devices are shown here, but I am not sure if these get included in the general stats also. If so, I would expect some of the Chrome hits to be coming from Android devices and some of the Safari hits to be coming from iPhone and iPad devices. If that is the case, then using the general browser market share stats may not be too clever when deciding the impact of whether to support a specific browser for your app. Maybe OS usage is a better option.

Looking at the OS usage stats on Wikipedia, Windows is still kicking butt on the desktop, so all these people have access to IE as well as their preferred browser.

  • Windows XP (41.15%)
  • Windows 7 (26.35%)
  • Windows Vista (14.57%)
  • Mac OS X (7.07%)
  • iOS (iPhone) (2.20%)
  • Linux (1.65%)

Compare that to my site, where Linux is the distant second biggest OS.

  • Windows: 90.56%
  • Linux: 6.37%
  • Macintosh: 2.33%
  • iPhone: 0.21%

For a browser-based app you expect to be run from the desktop, forcing people to use (or have access to) IE is not that much to ask. The vast majority can, if pushed, switch to IE for that specific task.

I don’t think you can lump mobile and non-mobile into one pot. Mobile apps have so many constraints to consider that they will invariably be treated as a separate project that must *definitely* be multi-browser compliant or a native app.

Browser-based apps that are intended for desktop users are different because about 90% of the time (according to the stats) they will be used on a Windows PC, having access to IE.

Obviously, your intention should always be to build apps that are multi-browser compliant, but depending on the nature and purpose of the specific app, having to open IE to run it will have zero impact on the vast majority of users (both home and business) until Windows loses its desktop dominance or the desktop ceases to exist…

Going back to the app that started this thread, Oracle’s Web Conferencing, is it a problem that this is IE only? Well it’s a pain for me because I’m a Mac and Linux user, but it’s not insurmountable because I can use a VM. I’ve never needed or wanted to use this functionality from a mobile device, so the IE constraint hasn’t affected me in that respect. In this case it’s very much a business app, so the vast majority of users will be sitting at a Windows PC. With that in mind, this is one of those cases where the IE constraint is annoying, but acceptable.



Captain’s Fury…

Captain’s Fury is the fourth book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. The book starts two years on from where the Cursor’s Fury ended.

I mentioned in my previous post that the last 100 pages of Cursor’s Fury was exiting. Captain’s Fury makes the previous book seem tame in comparison. It’s like a juggernaut ramming into your head for 600 pages. I felt physically drained by the end of it. Totally cool.



Cursor’s Fury…

Cursor’s Fury is the third book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. The book starts two years on from where the Academ’s Fury ended.

I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting the last hundred pages of this book were. I was totally freaking out. I finished the last page at about 02:00 in the morning, got out of bed with an exited giggle and ran into the next room to grab the next book in the series. I read that for a couple of hours more before I finally gave up and went to sleep.

If you are thinking about reading this series, please don’t read any spoilers. Jim Butcher has done an brilliant job of mixing predictability and complete surprise. The predictability of the plot works really well because you have a good idea what is going to happen, but you are desperate to see if it does because there are enough surprises to keep you guessing, or questioning what you think is coming round the corner.

Love it.


Where’s my money gone? Final Update…

Followers of the blog will know I’ve had a little bit of trouble with Oracle Norway and money disappearing from my company credit card.

This is just a quick note to say the issue has now been resolved and all the money is safely back in my account. Thank you to everyone who got involved in resolving the process. Your help is much appreciated.



I am Number 4…

I get the feeling that I am Number 4 is trying to target prepubescent boys, the same way Twilight (how I hate that film) has captured the imagination of every young person with ovaries. The big difference is that prepubescent boys like to see things get shot and blown up. As a result, it’s much more palatable to an adult male than the tripe they keep serving up in the Twilight Saga. Gosh that film is bad…

I.a.N.4 has its fair share of teenage angst and everyone is Hollywood pretty, but it didn’t make me vomit and it didn’t have glittering vampires. How I hate glittering vampires…

So if you go in cold, I.a.N.4 is kinda meh. If you cleanse your palate first by watching any Twilight (what a completely awful set of movies) film, you will think I.a.N.4 is awesome and deserves a giant bag of Oscars.



Academ’s Fury…

Academ’s Fury is the second book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. The book starts two years on from where the Furies of Calderon ended.

I’m now totally invested in the characters. They are real to me. I’m already thinking I will miss them (as I do Harry Dresden) when I finish the series and there is another 4 books to go. If you like the first book you will love this. If not, then give it a miss.