If you are a provider or developer, you most likely have a userbase that runs the gamut on versions of software and different packages they prefer or want to use.
That’s not a problem, the problem is when they come to you expecting you to know all about their software and help them with it.
That is where standardizing on programs or versions of programs is helpful for you as a provider or developer. With a standard recommended client from you, you can help them troubleshoot easier and in most cases, find it is an issue with their particular choice of client.
For instance, I recommend Filezilla as the best FTP client to my users for its featureset, open source nature, platform capabilities and more. When my clients come to me with a problem with FTP, one of my first questions is, what FTP client do you use. If it is not FileZilla I walk them through the download and configuration of it and begin the testing and probing processes.
In terms of browsers, I have Opera, Chrome and Firefox as my recommended browsers for users, again for the same reasons as Filezilla. In terms of Internet Explorer, I use a remote machine to test issues for end users that only appear in IE and only as far as confirming if it is an issue with that browser only.
The main things you should look for in your standardization of software and versions is, at least in my opinion…
- Free or Open Source
- Cross Platform (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux)
From there you can develop some quite good documentation with screenshots, videos, step-by-step tutorials and more and be able to point users to this to resolve most issues.
You will have to be flexible though where you can, for instance I’ll recommend Thunderbird over Microsoft Mail or mail.app but when it comes to Microsoft Outlook (provided it is not express) I do have reference information for helping those users.