CrossBrowserTesting is a unique and useful tool to test websites on different browsers running on a variation of operating systems. The service will allow you to properly view websites without going to the process of dual booting or finding computers that runs on different operating systems and installing different browsers just to see what your website looks like on a specific setup or configuration.
What is great about CrossBrowserTesting is that it will allow anyone to do the tests for free. Five minutes per session free services is available for anyone who wants to do a test. This will allow enough time to open a browser and open a website, login (if needed) and make a few clicks. Anyone who wants a longer session will have to buy credits to get an uninterrupted stream. Paid users are always given priority and the free users will have to wait in line if a server is full. Streaming speed will vary depending on your connection and other factors. In my testing, I experienced some lag which ate a chunk of the 5 minutes free time given to me but did not encounter any disconnection from the stream.
I did get an email from the team who are kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the improvements in the service.
I would think we should be on par with any other service (there are very few) that offer this kind of remote capability and running VNC through a Java applet is going to be somewhat sluggish no matter who you are. Still, we are working to speed things up as best we can and hope to offer the ability to use a client to connect to our service and that would improve performance significantly. However that is months away from seeing daylight.
CrossBrowserTesting currently supports different Microsoft Windows OS (98, XP, Vista) and Ubuntu Linux. The list of browsers includes Firefox, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera and Safari. Regarding the Mac OS-X:
As for the Mac OS, that is a completely different implementation due to their licensing and hardware. However, we are currently working on adding it to our list of configurations, hopefully within the next month (possibly sooner if we get lucky). It is currently our top priority.
To use the service, just register for an account and you can select from the list of operating system and configuration you want to perform the testing. When the stream starts, you can choose the browser available in the desktop and begin the testing. Full administrative access on the operating system is given to any user doing the test. You can load whatever client application you need to test and after each session, the virtual instance goes away and so does any trace of your work upon disconnection. You can also take a snapshot of the website which utilizes Flickr for the storage of the snapshots from your testing sessions. .
You can mark your snapshots as public or private. Snapshots marked public will be shown to visitors at CrossBrowserTesting.com, showcasing your work. A link to your Flickr profile will also be included when your work is shown, giving you credit and recognition for your work. You can also choose to keep your snapshots private. This is useful for people working on projects which are not public yet.
Whether you are a webmaster/developer, website owner or blogger, CrossBrowserTesting is a valuable tool for checking out if a website runs well on different browsers on different operating systems and settings.