Cross-browser testing: IE6 and IE7 (and maybe more…)

Published December 1st, 2006

Further to my last post on this subject, I just got wind of a rather interesting Microsoft blog post offering a solution to the “how do I test my web pages on Internet Explorer 6 after I’ve installed Internet Explorer 7?” quandary. Microsoft is giving away a disk image (that can be run on their free virtualisation software, Virtual PC) containing Windows XP SP2, with IE6.

One downside is that the disk image weighs in at a whopping 435MB or so. And like any other virtualisation software, you’ll need a reasonably quick machine to run Virtual PC at a usable speed. Oh, and the image expires 1st April 2007 — although there might well be more to follow (and possibly, further images with other versions of IE).

No it’s not perfect, but I think MS deserves some credit for recognising what is a genuine problem for web developers, and offering a free solution.

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  1. Solid on December 3, 2006

    Install multiple versions of IE on one PC:

  2. Stickman on December 4, 2006

    Yeah I posted a link to that (or something very similar) in the earlier article mentioned above. In fact I used that method myself until I had to reinstall Windows recently.

    While it’s fine for most purposes, like testing layout, there are limitations (aside from slightly iffy stability): for example, I had problems when it came to testing security settings. I assume it’s because IE is tightly coupled to Windows itself, and so changes made by one version might ‘spill over’ into another.

  3. Phantom on December 4, 2006

    Rightly or wrongly, I have so far refused to install IE7 on either my home or work machines. I have a tablet PC sitting along side my work machine onto which I have IE7 installed – and I don’t like it. I use it for testing only.

    MS’s arrogance in still trying to ride rough shot over every ‘web experience’ with their own half-baked idea of standards implementation, is what really chaps my buttocks.

    Look at the up-coming implementation of High Assurance SSL (or ESSL – Extended SSL as it’s now called) to see what I mean. CSS, JS…all of these things are examples of MS trying to force their own view and handling of ‘the web’.

    I would say that if you can – install IE7 on another machine. Preferably something you don’t really use for much else.

    In reality, if you code correctly and test on Firefox and IE6, 99.9% of the time IE7 will be fine as well. THAT SAID, IE7 has a somewhat unique handling of older Javascript – which has currently rendered one of the menu’s in an application here, completely un-usable.

  4. Stickman on December 6, 2006

    I haven’t tested much in IE7 so far. We have it installed on one machine — which, coincidentally or otherwise, has now become almost chronically unstable — but other than quick ‘does it work?’ checks I’ve not spent any time with it.

    While I applaud MS’ decision to release these disk images, I’d have preferred it if I could keep IE6 installed and have a disk image with IE7…:) I’ll probably wait for another couple of releases before I install it anywhere important — MS has always needed a couple of tries before getting things right.

  5. Nerd on January 23, 2007

    M$ have these problems because they tried to integrate IE so tightly that it HAD do be installed. A disk image just to be able to run IE6 sucks! Bah! M$ is gay!

  6. Solo on February 26, 2007

    I use standalone versions of IE6 and IE5.5 along with my installed Firefox and IE7. The standalones aren’t 100% usable, but they work pretty well for checking layouts and look on the older IE browsers:

  7. Zzzz on July 4, 2009

    All this would be great info is great, but seeing as Microsoft started charging for this VPC in 2008, it’s more like a great “desk-reference” for how things got to be the way they are now… Good stuff…..

  8. Vasya on September 21, 2009

    You may want to take a look at this new fast cross browser screenshot application.

    Currently it only supports Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on Windows, but as it is being actively developed more features and additional browsers will be added in the future.

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