The term software compatibility describes how a product should provide the same result across all platforms on which it runs. Software testers explore the effectiveness of processes that should lead to quality software products to make sure they perform the purpose for which they have been designed. Various testing activities take place throughout the software development lifecycle, including compatibility testing, which is a non-functional testing technique. Results may vary because of factors like resolution, internet speed, and different OS versions. Compatibility testing should be performed under all possible scenarios to prevent bug spillover in the production environment.

Compatibility Testing

Why Perform Compatibility Testing?

Software or applications with large user bases need testing from various aspects before being deployed into the production environment. For medium to large scale applications, compatible with all commonly available operating systems and internet browsers is essential. The goal of compatibility testing is to identify any loopholes between the various platforms and confirm that requirements function as specified. If executed efficiently with maximum coverage, can confirm the stability and workability of the application.

Types of Compatibility Testing

  • Browser Compatibility Testing: This type of testing is widely performed to make sure that a particular application is compatible on the different browsers available on the market, such as Chrome, IE, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.
  • Hardware Compatibility Testing: In this scenario, an application is tested against various hardware configurations to check behavior.
  • Network Compatibility Testing: Application connected with different available networks such as 3G, 4G, LTE, Wi-Fi, need to be tested too.
  • Mobile Device Compatibility: In native mobile applications testing, applications need to behave in the same manner on different mobile devices with different models and versions.
  • OS Compatibility Testing: When an application has been built to serve a broad audience spread across the globe, then this type of testing is necessary. In this type of testing, we check the behavior of the application with various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Mac, and so on.
  • Versions Compatibility Testing: There are two kinds of version testing:
    • Forward Compatibility Testing: The application must be updated to be compatible with current versions and projected versions as well.
    • Backward Compatibility Testing: This checks that the application works seamlessly on the previous or older versions.

Common Defects Found During Web Applications Compatibility Testing

  • UI changes, look and feel may differ
  • Fonts size may vary and misalign
  • Media may not play on some environments
  • Missing content and overlapping
  • Files may not show

It can be a cumbersome and challenging task for a test team to carry out such a massive task as compatibility testing. The most commonly used operating systems and browsers need to be involved. To discover the full breadth of testing needed, include an analysis of the customer requirements list. As well as consulting the requirements, Google Analytics is the most comprehensive way to obtain information about the most widely used browsers along with a list of their versions and operating systems. (Stats will differ for each site, so it’s important to consider the statistic each time you test a different site.)

Cross-Browser Testing Tools

Keep in mind that compatibility testing can be carried out both manually and by being automated. A couple of the popular tools are listed below, but for a wider selection visit our list of the most widely used Cross Browser Testing Tools.

  • Browserstack: This commercial cloud-based cross-browser tool is used for the compatibility testing of mobile and web applications. To test any web application, paste the URL and select the target browsers and Operating Systems.
  • Simulator & Emulator: These two methods can also be used for the purpose of compatibility, but is again a time-consuming process needing extra effort.


Organizations can strengthen customer satisfaction by engaging in compatibility testing to examine the performance of an application over multiple platforms. The aim is to ensure that a particular application works across all tested browsers, operating systems, mobile devices, hardware, and networks.