Is Testing on Internet Explorer Still Relevant?
To answer this question, we must have a glimpse at the roots of IE. This article will help you understand how Internet Explorer evolved over the years with some relevant statistics. Analyzing these stats, one can take a call regarding its relevance in Testing.
History of Internet Explorer: Microsoft introduced its first web browser “Internet Explorer” version 1.0 in 1995. It emerged as a fierce competitor to Netscape (now known as Firefox). Netscape had a market share of 86% in 1996, but the landscape changed drastically. Netscape’s reign didn’t last long as Microsoft came up with aggressive tactics. Microsoft started integrating its browser “Internet Explorer” with its operating systems and also started bundling deals with OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer). As a result, surprisingly, the market share of Internet Explorer crossed 90% within the first four years of its release. Internet Explorer turned out to be the undisputed winner!
Growth of Internet Explorer: Internet Explorer started gaining massive attraction in the early 2000s, and it was at the peak of market share possessing more than 95% in 2002. IE version 6 was the most popular web browser in the world in 2001. In the US, Internet Explorer had a market share of 73% in Jan 2009.
A decline in Market Share of IE
Although Internet Explorer version 6 was the most preferred browser globally in 2001, it was never fully compliant with the web-standards which resulted in difficulties for web-developers to work with IE. Also, specific critical bugs were overlooked. It took five years for Microsoft to introduce Internet Explorer version 7 in 2006 which was a prolonged move as a new competitor Firefox already started emerging in 2004.
With other browsers like Firefox, Chrome joining the market, Internet Explorer’s global market share started gradually declining. Internet Explorer’s global market share declined significantly from 64.97% in Jan 2009 to 15% in Dec 2014.
You can also refer to this video to analyze how Internet Explorer’s market share declined over the years.
Microsoft didn’t include useful features like anti-phishing, pop-up blockers, at the right time in order to be able to compete with other browsers like Chrome and Firefox and hence Microsoft’s market share is still declining continuously. In 2015 Microsoft introduced a new browser Microsoft Edge with Windows 10 and also Microsoft officially ended support for version 10 and older IE versions in Jan 2016.
Why is it still relevant to test web applications for Internet Explorer?
While the numbers given above might make it seem like you can avoid Internet Explorer Testing, this is not the case.
- If you have an established website serving considerable traffic over an extended period of time, there is a possibility that a certain percentage of users prefer Internet Explorer solely to access your website. These users might have used IE for surfing the internet for many decades and hence IE is their first choice. Hence, choosing not to optimize your website for Internet Explorer can lead to loss of revenue.
For example, if your Website serves a million users each quarter and 2% of them use IE, you would be losing out on revenue from 20, 000 users. Without testing your website on Internet Explorer, that would be like leaving money on the table.
- Despite its low market share, it is important to remember that Internet Explorer has significant name recognition. It is still one of the most recognizable browsers in the world. To provide a truly inclusive experience, your web app must be tested for Internet Explorer. Doing so establishes credibility by offering a more browser-agnostic experience.
- If you are worried about putting in extra effort, don’t worry. Testing your website on Internet Explorer is not a cumbersome task. Microsoft itself provides a service known as Modern IE wherein web developers can test their Website on different versions right from IE 8 to IE 11 and also on Edge. Microsoft also has a partnership with BrowserStack to support Microsoft Edge testing on real devices. BrowserStack also supports Internet Explorer testing. Others like DebugBar provides IETesters and VirtuaI IE Tabs.