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Browsers—and their corresponding preferences—are like fingerprints. There‘s a ton of variations, and we probably see them all.

As a result, Macworld ’s online team receives a steady stream of comments from users that deal with local issues that can’t always be easily addressed on our end. The typical comment starts out with the phrase “such and such page doesn’t appear correctly.” To which the response—usually from me personally—is to ask for the reader’s operating system, browser type and version.

The reader’s answer almost always points out the obvious problem: It’s with your browser.

A little background

Browsers break down roughly along these lines:

  • 45 percent of our readers use Safari
  • 30 percent use Internet Explorer
  • 20 percent use some sort of Mozilla product (Mozilla, Firefox, Camino)
  • 5 percent account for everything else (Netscape, Lynx, Konqueror, Opera, ICab, Mosaic, WebTV, you name it)

Last month, 72 different browser variations visited the Macworld domain. Factor in the way each one of those different browsers and their respective versions render pages, you wind up with a jumbled mess and have no hope of pleasing everyone.

Older browsers adhere to standards that are horribly outdated. So you can rest assured that when you browse the Web on IE 5.1 on OS 9 you’ll eventually come across a site that looks out of whack, Macworld included.

How we cope

From this list, it should come to no surprise that we aim to ensure our site renders flawlessly in as many editions of Safari as possible, the latest editions of IE, and in the Mozilla products across both platforms. If another browser comes along and starts to break into a double-digit percentage, then we’ll happily add it to the list.

We try to accommodate the others, but cannot guarantee anything. No amount of resources can bring it all together. There will always be some browser left out in the cold. And don’t even get me started on people who still browse the Web using IE 5.1 on OS 9, through AOL.

With that said, browser compatibility doesn’t explain everything and we certainly appreciate the feedback we receive regarding glaring errors. When we’re able to recreate the problem, we do everything we can to get it fixed.

The easiest solution I can offer is to think about an upgrade. If you’d rather not shell out any dough for a new OS, then start with your browser version. Export your bookmarks before you do and make sure you have your mail backed up, just in case.

To those of you on the timid side, consider the fact that when you take the bold step to upgrade you’re essentially supporting technological advance. And isn’t that what makes this so much fun?

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