Web applications and web browsers


If your so-called “web application” only runs in Internet Explorer, it’s not a web application. Rather, it’s an “Internet Explorer application”. I was reminded of this simple fact while looking for a new software package the other day. One of the products on my short list was web-based and looked pretty solid. But when I went to the demo page, there it was: “Sorry, you are using an unsupported browser. You must use Internet Explorer to access our site.” Needless to say, I crossed that one right off the list.

I don’t know which planet that company was from, but a web application needs to work with the popular browsers that people use. Today, that means both Internet Explorer and Firefox, and maybe Safari if you’re targeting Mac users. By only supporting a single browser (even if it’s the most popular one), you’re limiting your market penetration. And calling the resulting product a “web application” only makes the situation worse.

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