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Is it time for a single standardised web browser?

Published on January 11, 2013
Tags: Usability

A recent study by Forrester Research has made the case for a single standardised web browser for internet users. The argument for this is that there are hidden costs involved in having multiple non-standardised browsers.

Of the 113 IT professionals who were surveyed, nearly all of them (96%) said they standardise on a single browser for use on work PC’s. Enterprises are now deciding whether to support non-standard browsers as the report suggests it can be costly. According to the firms which offered a multiple browser strategy, 86% experienced on average, more than a 20% cost increase. This means that firms can end up spending around $4000 extra for each web app which is developed for multiple browsers.

The report is however biased since it was commissioned by Microsoft, whose latest web browser, Internet Explorer 10 was released in August 2012 and is the default browser of Windows 8. While the report is limited in its view, it omits any mention to mobile usage, although it has been noted that Microsoft has integrated extensive support for HTML5 on its Windows Phone 8 system.

A breakdown of the Forrester Research results

The results from the survey indicate that while an overwhelming 96% use a standardised single browser for work PC’s, 51% said that their company has enforced this standard by removing admin rights and locking down PC’s. 32% of IT professionals mentioned that there’s a single standardised browser, but they allow employees to install an alternative browser which the company will support if possible.

Meanwhile 13% said yes but that employees can install an alternative browser that isn’t supported by the company, if they so wish. 2% indicated that they had no plans to have a company standardised browser either now or in the future and the final 2% said no, but that this might change at some point in the future.

The costs of running and supporting multiple browsers can be costly for some businesses, especially during times of financial hardship when many companies are cutting back or have limited resources. Alongside these high security costs which are associated with non-standard browsers, app compatibility is another factor which many companies have to take into consideration.

Every time a web browser is updated, it may no longer work well with particular apps. All of these apps need to be tested for their compatibility, which can vary from browser to browser. Extensive testing is therefore required. This can cause complications due to update schedules varying from browser to browser. Companies will therefore need to follow a few guidelines on how to keep in budget and what to expect should they choose to use multiple web browsers.

As internet usage becomes increasingly more mobile and the presence of apps dominates the market, this is going to become more of a contentious issue. Therefore companies looking to enhance their web presence will have to analyse if a single standard browser is the right choice for them.

By Chelsey Evans

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