Internet Explorer takes the lead -- as most error-prone browser

On the bright side, Sauce Labs finds Microsoft's browser is improving with each new release

There is good news and bad news for Microsoft in a report by Sauce Labs about browser reliability. The bad news is that Microsoft Internet Explorer has fared the worst overall in recent years. The good news is, Internet Explorer keeps getting better and better with each release.

Sauce found Internet Explorer's overall error rate to be 0.25 percent, with an error defined as a browser failing to start. While this is still a lot less than even 1 percent, the number is significant for application testers who may have to perform thousands of tests, notes Santiago Suarez Ordonez, lead back-end engineer at Sauce. The study, released Tuesday, was based on tallies of errors recorded in Sauce's Selenium, a browser behavior automation tool available in the cloud. More than 55 million tests over several years were gauged.

Internet Explorer takes the lead -- as most error-prone browser
Findings courtesy of Sauce Labs

In Microsoft's case, errors have been reduced from IE7's rate of 0.29 percent to just 0.05 percent in IE10. "They've gotten their act together," Ordonez says. This positive trend for Microsoft could be the result of improvements in both the browser and the accompanying Windows OS, he adds. IE7, for example, was run on Windows XP, while IE10 was tested on Windows 8, Microsoft's latest version of Windows. Microsoft declined to comment on Sauce's findings.

Ordonez emphasizes that failing browsers could serve to complicate application testing if not factored in during development; tests should be prepared with this variable in mind. "The problem with browser crashes is they give you flakey results" with application failures caused by the browser rather than the application itself, he says.

For other browsers, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have had the best overall error rates, with Firefox coming it at 0.11 percent and Chrome at 0.12 percent, for the life of the study. "Firefox and Chrome have proved to be extremely reliable," says Ordonez. Safari, meanwhile ranked behind IE, with a rate of 0.15 percent, while Opera registered at about 0.125 percent. Sauce said the study was not sponsored by any vendor.

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