Microsoft worked hard during later updates to SharePoint 2007, and in the development of SharePoint 2010, to improve compatibility for browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE).

SharePoint 2010 generates most of its content using web-standard XHTML that renders well across most browsers. Microsoft categorizes browsers into two categories—Level 1 and Level 2—in order to help customers align browser choice with the desired level of functionality.

You’d think two categories of browsers would make understanding browser compatibility easy. But no... there are a few caveats!

Level 1 browsers provide an excellent user experience and “all” SharePoint functionality on user and administrative pages.

Level 1 browsers:

Operating System

Browser

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2008

Internet Explorer 7 (32-bit)

Internet Explorer 8 (32-bit)

Mozilla Firefox 3.5

Windows 7

Windows Server 2008 R2

Internet Explorer 8 (32-bit)

Mozilla Firefox 3.5

 

I say “all” in quotes because features provided by ActiveX controls, such as list datasheet view and the control that displays user presence information, do not work in Mozilla Firefox 3.5, which does not support ActiveX. In my experience, the datasheet view—which shows a list in an Excel-like grid of columns and rows—is used in almost every one of my clients, so it seems a bit strange to stuff Firefox into the “Level 1” box if it can’t do the datasheet view, but that’s what Microsoft did anyway.

Level 2 browsers support basic read, write, and administrative activities.

Level 2 browsers:

Operating System

Browser

Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple Safari 4. x

Mozilla Firefox 3.5

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2008

Internet Explorer 7 (64-bit)

Internet Explorer 8 (64-bit)

Windows 7

Windows Server 2008 R2

Internet Explorer 8 (64-bit)

UNIX/Linux 8.1

Mozilla Firefox 3.5

 

Note, first, that the 64-bit versions of IE7 and IE 8 are considered Level 2 browsers. Don’t panic about that! The 32-bit version of IE8 is installed on Windows 7 x64 by default, is set as the default browser (except in Europe where the browser choice ballot appears), and is going to be the version used by your users in most situations, because most of the plug-ins and add-ons that users rely on are 32-bit. So in most organizations, the 32-bit version of IE 7 or IE 8 is the standard browser, even on 64-bit clients.

Other standards-based browsers work with SharePoint with the same limitations as Level 2 browsers; however, Microsoft hasn’t done extensive testing on browsers other than those listed and doesn’t support use of other browsers. If you want to use a browser other than those listed above, you should perform testing to ensure that the browser delivers an acceptable user experience.

This is a very important “take-away”—just because your favorite browser isn’t listed, don’t assume it won’t work! In fact, you can probably assume it will work if it’s standard’s based. Test it!  Browser “levels” have more to do with Microsoft testing than with the user experience of unlisted browsers.

For published sites, page designers can apply Web Content Management features to control markup and styling so that published sites are compatible with additional browsers, including IE 6. However, it is the page designer’s responsibility to create pages that target the browsers that are targeted for support. Page designers and content authors must use a standards-based browser, such as IE 8 or Firefox 3.5 to author content.

SharePoint compatible applications can provide a rich, client-side interaction with SharePoint. Microsoft Office 2003 and later are compatible with SharePoint.

The following TechNet article provides additional details regarding browser support for SharePoint 2010: Plan Browser Support.