Most popular browsers for cross browser compatibility compliance

What are the most popular web browsers?

Every month, a new web browser version is released while older, obsolete web browsers fall off the radar.  The environment is always in flux, always changing.  But, when there is a deadline and it is time to launch and test website, we need to have a fixed standard for which we need to apply the compatibility test.  Since it could take several weeks to build a website, and many browser versions move in and out of the scene, it is important to identify the most popular web browsers du jour.

Our source for identifying web browser market share is W3Schools, which tracks web statistics and trend.

Web browser trends, statistics, and market share by W3Schools.com

96% Standard

Our standard for identifying “most popular” is 96%.  Those combinations of web browsers that own 96% market share are considered, by us, to be the most popular.  If a web browser falls below 4% then we do not consider it of the most popular.  Based on the chart above, published in August 2012, the most popular web browsers are:

  • Google Chrome with 42.9% market share
  • Mozilla Firefox with 33.7% market share
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer with 16.3% market share

Not considered most popular are:

  • Apple Safari with 3.9% market share
  • Opera with 2.1% market share

Browser versions

It is also important to drill down and determine which of the respective browser versions are the most popular.  Drilling down into Internet Explorer statistics reveals the versions of IE that are considered most popular versus unpopular.  We apply the same rule of 96 out of 100.  Those browser versions with at least 4% market share will be covered within our standards. Those that fall below 4% are not considered most popular.

Internet explorer (IE) statistics for market penetration and popularity according to W3Schools

The final part of the criteria for most popular web browser is when.  When we build websites, we have to have a fixed standard, not a moving target.  When we received a request for proposal (RFP) for a website design and development project, we develop an estimate, work breakdown structure (WBS), and proposal based on the information known at the time.  So, our cut-off for determining and promising functional compatibility across the most common web browsers is the date of the RFP.  If the RFP was published in January, the contract was awarded in February, and the website was launched in April, it will be compatible for the most popular website browsers identified by W3Schools for January.