Analysts at reputed Forrester Research have released a study on making the business case for standardizing on a single browser. The report was commissioned by Microsoft, however, so it takes a bit of a limited approach to the browser question.
Hidden Costs of Non Standardized Browsers
Nearly all of the 113 IT professionals surveyed in the report said they standardize on a single browser for work PC's. It doesn't say Internet Explorer in the report, though. Instead, the companies standardize on the browser native to their company standard OS, the report says.
Enterprises are grappling with how and even if they should support non standard browsers, and the report does do a good job at pointing out the costs associated with doing so. Companies who don't simply take away administrative rights for work issued PC's sometimes do allow non standard browsers, but they often don't support them.
Of the firms who did offer a multiple browser strategy, 86% of them experienced a more than 20% cost increase on average. Firms can look forward to spending about US $4,000 extra per Web app if they develop for multiple browsers, the study found.
No Browser Report Should Omit Mobile
The biggest problem with this report is it simply ignores mobile altogether. That was obviously outside what Microsoft specifically wanted to look at. We understand the researchers didn't ask any questions about mobile to any of the IT pros, but to not mention mobile even once in the report?
Microsoft likely has a very specific target audience in mind for this kind of report, so that is likely why the study's purview is so limited.
Still, mobile is not an issue that can simply be ignored by enterprises. The only clue the report offers on this front is its recommendation to embrace the HTML5 and CSS3 open Web standards. It's in reference to the desktop, but it certainly applies to mobile as well. In fact, Microsoft already has included fairly extensive support for HTML5 on the Windows Phone 8 system.
Ninety Six percent of companies surveyed have standardized on a single browser for work issued PCs.
Browsers + Web App Development
Besides higher security costs associated with supporting non standard browsers, things like app compatibility must also be taken into consideration, the report says. When a browser get updated, it may no longer work as well with certain apps. That means every app needs to be tested with new browser versions, or else its deployment could be delayed.
In a multi browser environment, this can get messy fast because update schedules vary by browser. Companies need to prep app developers for this contingency, and be prepared to pay the added costs incurred. It's tough to balance productivity with security and still come in under budget, so the report at least lays out a few guidelines on what to expect if companies do go the multi browser route.