Testing Internet Explorer: multiple versions on one PC

Published December 8th, 2005

A colleague overheard me swearing at my PC yesterday as I attempted to debug my pages in an old version of Internet Explorer using a Windows 95 install on VMWare. I’ve never got the thing to work properly, so as well as being slow it’s in 16 colours at 640×480. It doesn’t make for a happy testing experience.

Anyway he pointed out that it’s possible to run several versions of Internet Explorer on one PC! I’m way behind the curve on this one, apparently the technique has been around for at least a couple of years. Anyway, in case you’re also ignorant of this technique, here’s the original article (with links for downloading older versions) and here’s another with some tweaks (like getting the version number into the title bar and handling conditional comments correctly). I had IE5.01 and IE5.5 up and running within minutes.

Now, back to debugging IE…:(

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  1. Pingback: Cross-browser testing: IE6 and IE7 (and maybe more…) » StickBlog on December 1, 2006


  1. Phantom on December 8, 2005

    Stickman! I thought you were a guru – how can you not have known about this? ;o)

    To be honest, its such an old thing, there is now very little requirement for it. MS has managed to encourage/force just about every user on to IE6, by either pushing out automatic updates or no longer supporting legacy versions when it comes to security updates. This alone means that its even less likely than ever, that a person would be on a version of IE less than 5.5/6.

    Just my 2p of course. I know we do not test for any legacy versions any more.

  2. Stickman on December 8, 2005

    A ‘guru’? Hardly.

    As I understand it, you’re in a ‘controlled’ environment — it’s feasible for you to say “use this version of browsers or above” without worrying too much. This application is for the general public, and our stats tell us that IE5.5 (for example) is still in use by a significant proportion of our visitors. And it was that one that was causing me the headaches! I installed 5.01 because it was easy to do and if I can get it to work with that too, then so much the better.

    IE7 is going to make things even more complicated. I’m not looking forward to the day when that’s released to the general public.

  3. Phantom on December 8, 2005

    IE7…you mean IwannabEfirefox7?

    Not to de-rail your blog, but is IE7 not going to be seperate from the OS when its released in-line with Vista? I thought there was some MMC ruling that they were not allowed to package IE with the OS any more in future versions?

    I don’t know any more – so much is said and done.

    You are right – I am in a relatively controlled environment – still 40k+ users who can be on any browser at all, tho. What were your stats on IE5.5?


  4. Stickman on December 8, 2005

    I don’t know what the deal is with IE7 — whether it’ll be part of the OS or what. But either way you can be sure they’ll find some way to ‘encourage’ people to upgrade. They wouldn’t bother with a new version if they didn’t have some good business reason for it, and if that’s the case then they’ll be pulling out all the stops to get people to install it.

    Last time I looked, IE5.x was at about 5% (at work). Firefox was way down at about 1.5%. It’s odd, because I’ve seen ‘general’ stats in various places that have FF at about 8-10%. Not sure why our readership is so different.

  5. Phantom on December 8, 2005

    The IE stats are interesting – certainly surprised at how low FF still is. I suppose its easy to forget that most people who browse ‘the net’ are quite happy to click ‘that blue E’. ;o)

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