Web Developer Tip: Use Virtual PC to Run Different Versions of IE Concurrently

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 4:19 PM

Originally Published 2007-10-11 18:03:55

Do you have a need to run Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 (IE6 & IE7) side by side? If you have ever toyed with your blog's presentation template, if you do any sort of web development, or even if you need to run an application in a different version of Microsoft Windows, you can use Microsoft's free Virtual PC application to do it.

(The reason is because no two web browsers render html and css identically. So your beautifully designed masterpiece that rivals the Mona Lisa in Firefox might be a huge mess in IE6, slightly skewed in Safari, and Martian in IE7. Not to mention the handful of browsers with even less market share.)

I have two Windows 2000 systems I use side-by-side on a daily basis. Both boxes are a couple of years old, but are plenty fast for my needs. I'm not a gamer, my primary development environment consists primarily of cygwin and a text editor, and my most-used application is Firefox.

I nevertheless need to evaluate my work on at least IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2. It would better to include Firefox 1.5 and Safari as well.

Two Problems

  1. Internet Explorer is part of Windows. So separating it, or, as I want to do, compartmentalizing so I can run both IE6 and IE7 side-by-side is a monstrous effort all by itself. There are a number of other Smart Guys out there who have discussed it in detail, but I wasn't too interested in that solution. Besides, I have two boxes, so running IE6 on one and IE7 on the other seemed like the best approach. Except that...

  2. IE7 cannot be installed on Win2K. Call it Microsoft's encouragement to upgrade your OS. Call it a Microsoft cost-savings effort (because it's a lot less Quality Assurance labor). Call it whatever you like... getting around it is yet another Herculean effort. And I do this sort of thing for a living.

A Free and Easy-to-Install Solution

Enter Virtual PC from Microsoft. It's a poor man's Windows-only, less efficient implementation of VMWare, but it's free and it solves the problem in 30 minutes, 20 of which was downloading the "Virtual Hard Drive" from M$ containing an installation of Windows XP SP2 and IE7. I installed the Virtual PC package (download link is in the first paragraph, above), downloaded the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD), ran the "New Virtual Machine Wizard", and 5 minutes later I was running IE7 on XP within a window on my Windows 2000 box.

Here's a nice screen shot for you (click through to see it at full size):IE7 running on Windows 2000 with Virtual PC Screenshot


On 2007-10-23 06:59:50 Colin Flappyhead said:
Blimey, that was quite useful.
As soon as I stop flapping, I'm going to try that on my FlappyServer (tm).

Merci beaucoup.

That's French for "danke schon".

Colin Flappy
London, UK

On 2007-11-20 08:02:07 Very usefull said:
You need to use some way of check both IE6 and IE7 since they are so different from each other. I don't use VMWare however. I did this some time ago, but there is a program out there that lets you emulate actual IE7 rather than user a virtual OS. I'm sure if you dearch on google you can find it.

- Doug
5 Lessons Learned By a Young Webmaster

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