Testing Multiple Versions of IE on One PC

Testing Multiple Versions of IE on One PC

ieblog

4 Feb 2011 9:52 AM

  • Comments 38

Previous posts described the importance of developing sites with feature detection and debugging a site’s behavior in older versions of Internet Explorer using IE’s browser and document modes. Testing production Web sites against multiple browsers and multiple browser versions is a reality of Web development. IE9’s emulation of older IE document modes makes this easier but those emulations are not exact. Some developers need a convenient way to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one PC. Windows 7’s Windows XP Mode is an interesting option for testing sites across versions of IE on one PC.

Running Multiple Versions of IE Using Windows XP Mode

One way to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one PC is to run the older version(s) of Internet Explorer using Windows XP Mode on a Windows PC running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate edition. (Windows XP Mode is an optional downloaded feature of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions that provides you a pre-installed image of Windows XP SP3 that you run using Windows Virtual PC. A recent update allows Windows XP Mode to run on a CPU without hardware virtualization.)

It is even possible to set up and run multiple XP Modes on one Windows 7 machine, thereby allowing you to run Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, 8, and 9 simultaneously on a single machine.

IE versions 6, 7, 8, and 9 all running on one PC
Screen shot of my 24" monitor showing IE9 running natively and IE6, 7, and 8 in three separate Windows XP Mode instances

Interested in trying this? This linked document provides detailed instructions for setting up a Windows XP Mode virtual machine and then copying it to create two additional XP Mode virtual machines and configuring them to run IE7 and IE8.

Other Options

This page links to white papers describing other solutions for virtualizing Internet Explorer.

This page contains links to Windows Virtual PC virtual machine hard drive images (VHDs) for testing websites with different Internet Explorer versions. These images were recently updated and now expire on May 18, 2011.

IE9 on the Horizon

Now is the time to prepare your production Web sites for IE9 while not forgetting your site’s visitors who use IE7 or IE8. Windows 7’s XP Mode is a no-additional-cost solution to testing multiple versions of Internet Explorer on a single PC running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate.

—Ted Johnson, Lead Program Manager, Internet Explorer

 

Comments

I hate to repeat this here but once a post on the IE blog is not the latest post it gets ignored.

  • Can someone from Microsoft please make a statement about shutting down the IE6/IE7/IE8/IE9 images at http://www.spoon.net/

    ======================================================================================================

    This was **THE** most useful resource for testing multiple versions of IE and the shutdown really ticked developers off!

    As a long time web developer of Enterprise Web Applications I’ve tried all the options out there to try and simplify testing IE and the lack of realistic options is a royal PITA.

    1.) Multiple IEs – IE8 breaks the functionality of IE6’s textboxes – thus its a NO-GO

    2.) IETester – works great until you need to test popup interaction and then it fails – thus a NO-GO

    3.) Virtual PC with timebombed images of IE6, IE7, IE8 – works ok, but the 12Gigs of HD space needed is frustrating when each full image of Windows dies 4 times a year, running a full Windows image is slow and you have to beg for updates because the releases are not co-ordinated and announced well at all – thus its a NO-GO

    4.) IE Super Preview – Last I checked this did not allow full testing of IE user interaction, JavaScript DOM changes, popups etc. – thus its a NO-GO

    5.) Multiple PC’s to run multiple versions of windows and IE.  With all the hardware, software, and physical space needed – its a NO-GO

    6.) Spoon.net IEs – They work, they work just like local native apps once running, and there’s no hacking of my real local IE install. – the **ONLY** problem with these IE’s is that Microsoft shut them down

    Please understand that we (developers) just want something that works.  Testing in multiple versions of IE is a pain to begin with and with IE9 on the horizon it is only getting worse.

    I’m not sure where the issue stands with Spoon, but I would really like a solution worked out fast.

    Steve

  • Brandon Bloom

    4 Feb 2011 10:53 AM

    #

    Seriously. Spoon.net was *awesome*. I know Microsoft bought Softricity/SoftGrid a while ago, so you have the tech to implement this yourself. Give us FREE Spoon.net -style multiple IE app virtualization. We need it *yesterday*.

    While you’re at it: how about a Microsoft-approved IE9-Frame for IE6/7/8? Similar to Google Chrome Frame, but Microsoft-approved, so you could convince IT shops to install it via group policy.

  • Prior Semblance

    4 Feb 2011 11:03 AM

    #

    I will continue to support microsoft not supporting IE6 development, but this does sound useful for IE7/8 (mostly 8, 7 is dying now too).

  • Alex Angelico

    4 Feb 2011 11:08 AM

    #

    Nice post but, if you are running ni a windows PC, the easiest methods are:

    1. ietester : www.my-debugbar.com/…/HomePage

    2. Install IE9 Beta, and use the included developer tools  to change the Browser Mode and the Documento Mode.

  • JM

    4 Feb 2011 11:59 AM

    #

    This is a bit off-topic, but it came to mind when mentioning document modes. What’s the meaning of including more and more document and browser modes in new versions of Explorer? Quirks mode is unfortunately still a requirement, IE7 mode was useful two years later, but the IE8 mode is really redundant. Will IE10 have 5 document modes?

    Another problem is that all the browser and document modes are too chaotic. What the hell is "IE9 compatibility view"? Is it IE7? IE8? What is the difference between browser mode and document mode? What mode is set when pressing that "torn sheet button"? Your articles related to this topic are good but not everyone read them. It would be very handy to add some help into Developer Tools.

    Thank you.

  • Seth

    4 Feb 2011 12:11 PM

    #

    IE is dead. Since first Platform Preview of IE, Goolge released 3 or 4 version of Chrome. Now IE don’t have any benefits. And it the only browser that requires rebooting PC after installation. Looks like MS has only 2 developers in IE team, because that’s the only one explanation for your turttle-slow development. IE is dead. Really. It has no chances. It laks modern functionality, rendering engine support less HTML5 than the pther browsers, JavaScprit is slow, Interface is ugly, no simple extensions, no useful extensions, lot’s of crappy bars that slow down IE… IE was outdated even when it was announced year ago. IE9 brings only new rendering engine, while other browser try to bring new functions. Sorry. I’ve been fan of IE for 10 years, but now switched to Safari. It is compact, it looks beautiful, it has great extensions, it can save video from YouTube and other sites without any add-ons… It took 3 – 4 years for other companies to do what IE team was unable to do since 1994. Where are Offline favorites? Where are normal tools for completing forms? WHY I CAN’T DELETE ADDONS FROM BROWSER????

  • Ted Johnson [MSFT]

    4 Feb 2011 12:46 PM

    #

    @Job: You are correct. I mean that IE9’s emulations of older versions of IE are not the same as running the old version. The code is different. The emulations are very close but not exactly the same.

    @JM: The purpose of the legacy document modes is primarily to run content designed for older versions of Internet Explorer. In addition to Quirks, there are actually sites—sometimes intranet sites—developed for IE7 and IE8. Rather than break those sites with IE9, we offer them a compatibility mode. Our hope is that sites will move forward but compatibility modes allow them to do it on their schedule, not ours. blogs.msdn.com/…/testing-sites-with-browser-mode-vs-doc-mode.aspx discusses this in more detail and explains the differences between browser mode and document mode.

  • John Nerush

    4 Feb 2011 1:08 PM

    #

    When will Microsoft finally lay these out of date and inferior browsers to rest, all you are doing is causing designers pain.

    Stop fighting against Chrome and Firefox. Learn from their success.

  • Viktor Krammer [Quero]

    4 Feb 2011 1:23 PM

    #

    I think the emulation in IE9 via the developer tools (F12) document / browser mode works quite well for most cases 🙂 What are the exact pain points of using the IE7/IE8 emulator in IE9?

  • Jimmy

    4 Feb 2011 2:06 PM

    #

    This is great. I had no idea you could use XP mode to accomplish this. Thanks for the post!

  • Andrew

    4 Feb 2011 3:54 PM

    #

    4 VMs (on Mac), all XP except the one with IE 9 which is Windows 7. This is because the emulation is NOT the same as using the actual browser. Usually these days, IE 9 can render most everything I have made work with Firefox and Chrome. Then I can get into conditionals for IE 8, and go down from there. Most sites I do today don’t support IE 6 in any capacity. That VM can hopefully disappear soon.

    I cannot believe we still have to support it too in this way. It should be updated on a continual basis, and updates should be highly encouraged. Both Chrome and Firefox get updates to their engine (which improves CSS layout too between versions, adds new tags, etc, NOT just security!). If IE 6 were updated frequently we might even still see that interface (maybe just with tabs taken from competitors) but at the very least all the known bugs of it would be gone and much faster than it was waiting for IE 7.

    I don’t see where their problem is. I thought by now MSHTML and IE’s MSHTML would be separate therefore NOT breaking compatibility with old applications (which are dumb enough to use IE to display HTML).

  • Mohamed Mansour

    4 Feb 2011 4:02 PM

    #

    Testing IE with this approach not only wastes a lot of space, but a lot of computing power and memory. Imagine running 4 VM’s … IETester is much better, faster, and less space/memory. www.my-debugbar.com/…/HomePage It is just a few MBs in size and doesn’t require a VM.

  • JAB Creations

    4 Feb 2011 5:28 PM

    #

    I test IE6 and IE7 on XP using between 384~512 megabytes of RAM each while Windows 7 pretty much won’t run without at least a GB of RAM. Any recommendations besides disabling SuperFetch? Also it besides the fact that it is not only completely useful because it blindly loads everything making users wait until it’s finished it is also constantly turned back on by Windows Update. I don’t have the bloat or problems with XP.

  • JAB Creations

    4 Feb 2011 5:29 PM

    #

    SuperFetch is *useless, not useful.

  • Ben Buchanan

    4 Feb 2011 7:11 PM

    #

    Would it be possible to change the emulations in IE to be actual/accurate emulations? XP Mode is ok but resource hungry and does not run well if you’re also running something like a Java IDE and full application instance (I have a quad core, 12gig machine at work and xp mode is still very slow).

    Also given IE9 won’t run on XP, in the big picture this is only a temporary solution. Basically we need a real and permanent solution for testing multiple IE versions, something that doesn’t require multiple VMs or relying on "not exact" (meaning unreliable) emulations.

    Since MS does not aggressively push new versions of IE, MS needs to support the developers stuck supporting multiple versions!

  • Only 54 steps!

    4 Feb 2011 7:54 PM

    #

    Awesome! only 54 steps to get all the testable versions of IE to work (and only if you’re on Windows 7).

    If only there were an easy solution like hosted images you could link to at the click of a button! – Wait, there was a site – Spoon.net!

    Oh yeah, then you guys shut them down without any explanation, making developers suffer even more than normal.

    A little write up on why Microsoft shut down Spoon to make development for IE a major pain in the rear would be greatly appreciated.  you might as well kick us when we are down since you just told us that you are no longer planning to support the Open Web and plan to force license restricted H.264 video on the entire Internet because you’re unwilling to step up to the table and discuss supporting an open format.

    What a horrible week to be a Web Developer! – Please no more blog posts next week about how IE is continuing to ruin the Internet.

  • albert

    4 Feb 2011 9:54 PM

    #

    i had no clue there were different versions of 7. go figure…."premium" was your most basic. because that is what premium implies……..entirely……..

    nice links to "read this if you cant do this"….way to put effort into this post. and your position. and your company. and its products.

    way to answer all the questions on here too. kudos.

  • Max

    5 Feb 2011 12:09 AM

    #

    Special for Steve

    img51.imageshack.us/…/44112755.jpg

    p.s. 3 virtual PC – is no good

  • Irrelevant

    5 Feb 2011 12:21 AM

    #

    These comments make me wonder how many real developers are actually posting here, besides the usual microsoft bashers, trolls and minors.

    The proposed solution is perfecty viable and should have occurred to anyone with half a brain. If you’re stil thinking it’s not, then perhaps web development, (or software in general) is not for you, and you may need to consider other career options.

    Thanks to Ted for taking the time to point out the painfully obvious.

  • antony

    5 Feb 2011 12:58 AM

    #

    if microsoft can force they are not limit they hijack stole other’s idea like Google innovative search. Silverlight copycat of Adobe flash and many other from other software vendor. well tell why home premium user can not use this feature any reason for this. because they need money money money. so it’s joke that open-source and Microsoft. well tell me what thing you really made for developer  yeah IE 9 with HTML5 and CSS3 really. so are their any plugin for Web development in IE even 6, 7,8,9 like other provide such as chrome and firefox.

    this is a another stupidity that they force XP user to purchase window 7 after that upgrade to 8 by paying hight amount for os.

    the product come from microsoft rleate to money that other not chrome is a big one browser and firefox another. but IE joke for Web development.

  • Hans

    5 Feb 2011 1:44 AM

    #

    I miss a reference to Superpreview – www.microsoft.com/…/details.aspx

  • Vince

    5 Feb 2011 2:32 AM

    #

    Why install multiple versions of IE ?? Just use IE Tester instead.

  • Blaise Kal

    5 Feb 2011 2:34 AM

    #

    I currently test IE6, IE7 and IE8 on my Mac using VirtualBox (open source) and multiple XP Virtal Machines. I like it for its speed and reliability, but it’s a pain to setup.

    Microsoft’s images with IE versions were also OK, but after having to reinstall the Nth time because of the time limitation, I stopped using it. I don’t like IEtester, Superpreview and MultipleIE because there are differences with the actual browsers, mostly in Javascript handling and form elements.

  • Jon

    5 Feb 2011 3:34 AM

    #

    Here’s a better idea: we don’t test for IE versions < 9 at all until Microsoft produces stand-alone versions that can be installed side by side. So long as they demand developers download massive, time bombed VM images, just to have the privilege of testing on older, buggy versions of their software, or jump through endless hoops to setup mutiple instances of XP mode, I see no reason to bother.

    Instead, why don’t we say to site visitors: "This site may not work with IE8 and below, as Microsoft refuse to make it convenient to test with them. If you have any complaints, please direct them to Ted Johnson at Microsoft, or install a better browser."

    Oh, and I look forward to the useful, illuminating response from Microsoft that is always forthcoming when the question of side by side IE is raised, as it has been, continuously, for the past ten years.

  • Wixred

    5 Feb 2011 3:39 AM

    #

    For IE7-9, I test by using either the IE9 Platform Preview document mode/stardard control or use IE 9 Developer Tools to do the same thing. Otherwise, I may use IETester which includes all previously mentioned as well as IE6 and IE5.5.

  • Ben Buchanan

    5 Feb 2011 5:50 AM

    #

    Since a few people don’t seem to realise, you don’t need to use the timebombed images with XP Mode. If you <a href="use’>weblog.200ok.com.au/…/browser-testing-with-windows-7-xp-mode.html">use the differencing method</a> you end up with persistent virtual WinXP instances. Still not ideal as I said earlier, and would be a heck of a lot easier if you could just spin up multiple instances of XP Mode without the runaround, but in the long run not as annoying as the timebombed images.

  • c69

    5 Feb 2011 5:52 AM

    #

    @IE Team,  tnx for good tutorial !

    @Irrelevant , yeah, pretty much same feeling

  • kejserdreng1

    5 Feb 2011 1:37 PM

    #

    Ie 9 has not made the plugin Quicktime working. When quicktime plugin is install apple.com is so slow it become useless.

    discussions.info.apple.com/thread.jspa

    Please Microsoft ie9 team, the Quicktime plugin is working perfect on all other browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome)

    There is no excuse for microsoft to blame Apple. Microsoft needs to make this highly wide spread Quicktime plugin working in Ie9

    Many people rely on itunes, iphone from apple, so if Microsoft dont do something to solve the problem, people inkluding me will desplace ie9 and use Firefox instead

    Many thanks

  • asdf

    5 Feb 2011 3:22 PM

    #

    Firefox has a feature in about:config called "middlemouse.scrollbarPosition" which allows you to middle click on the scrollbar to scroll to an exact position. Please implement this feature in IE9.

    Also middle mouse dragging a page to pan would be nice.

  • narcis

    5 Feb 2011 5:51 PM

    #

    Forget about multiple versions. IE is the only browser that talks about this.  When will you decide to become a modern browser? you are at <50% of share and falling and falling [0] 

    Wake up!

    [0]  en.wikipedia.org/…/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

  • Pies1

    5 Feb 2011 7:21 PM

    #

    We’ve stopped testing in IE6 and 7 a looong time ago. It’s not our job to support you, it’s your job to make sure your browser supports standard technologies.

  • Nick

    5 Feb 2011 9:42 PM

    #

    @Vince – IETester doesn’t do popups – so for any enterprise web development, IETester won’t do.

    @Hans – super Preview was the biggest waste of time I’ve seen since MS Bob. It gives you nothing more helpful than a quick screenshot tool for other browsers.   That doesn’t help most of us becase we need to test the javascript, resizing, interacting, etc.

    If you really want to just test CSS styling in multiple browsers – but still have interactive real-world testing use the Firefox Firebug plugin "FireCSS" – it is beyond amazing.

    @Microsoft – When is IE going to support cool extensions? Everything available for IE now is almost as bad as IE itself.  See Chrome & Firefox’s extension library – unbelievable options available… for IE? nothing worth taking the time to download.

    @narcis – IE is the only browser vendor that discusses this because IE is the only browser vendor that doesn’t support side by side installs. Not only was this a major failure for helping developers but also for end users and corporations that wanted to transition their upgrades to get to the latest version quicker.  Instead corporations feared updates because something might break, and dev shops delayed supporting new versions of IE because of the difficulty to test in multiple versions.

    Today we are at the dawn of the worst scenario for IE ever.  Come April we will have to support 4 (FOUR!!!) separate versions of IE. 1 that almost supports most of the standards, and 3 with little to no support for standards… and best of all – only 1 mega convoluted way to test in all versions.

    I’m going to give @Ted’s suggestion for a QUAD IE install a try and hope it works out.  It’s no where near as convenient as multiple IE’s was, or Spoon was but apparently MSFT doesn’t care about developers any more.

    @Microsoft – you’ve been very quiet about HTML5 innerHTML.  Have you declared whether IE9 RTM will actually support this property properly?  Or will this just be the (13th?, 14th?, 15th?, 19th?) thing in IE9 that fails to meet the bar on?

    @Microsoft – HTML5 forms? It seems odd that IE is the only browser that hasn’t added new form controls in the last DECADE… are you holding out the good news to surprise us when the RC comes out?

    @Microsoft – there was a rumor floating around that MSFT wasn’t going to release IE9 at this years Mix because it won’t be ready (which makes perfect sense based on the beta’s we’ve seen thus far, and the lack of bug fixes).  Should we bother buying tickets to Mix this year? or wait until next year.

  • Nick

    5 Feb 2011 9:45 PM

    #

    The comments form on this blog is pathetic.  It totally needs an auto-save and some indicator that the comment was actually submitted.

    reposting since I can’t see the actual comment.

    @Vince – IETester doesn’t do popups – so for any enterprise web development, IETester won’t do.

    @Hans – super Preview was the biggest waste of time I’ve seen since MS Bob. It gives you nothing more helpful than a quick screenshot tool for other browsers.   That doesn’t help most of us becase we need to test the javascript, resizing, interacting, etc.

    If you really want to just test CSS styling in multiple browsers – but still have interactive real-world testing use the Firefox Firebug plugin "FireCSS" – it is beyond amazing.

    @Microsoft – When is IE going to support cool extensions? Everything available for IE now is almost as bad as IE itself.  See Chrome & Firefox’s extension library – unbelievable options available… for IE? nothing worth taking the time to download.

    @narcis – IE is the only browser vendor that discusses this because IE is the only browser vendor that doesn’t support side by side installs. Not only was this a major failure for helping developers but also for end users and corporations that wanted to transition their upgrades to get to the latest version quicker.  Instead corporations feared updates because something might break, and dev shops delayed supporting new versions of IE because of the difficulty to test in multiple versions.

    Today we are at the dawn of the worst scenario for IE ever.  Come April we will have to support 4 (FOUR!!!) separate versions of IE. 1 that almost supports most of the standards, and 3 with little to no support for standards… and best of all – only 1 mega convoluted way to test in all versions.

    I’m going to give @Ted’s suggestion for a QUAD IE install a try and hope it works out.  It’s no where near as convenient as multiple IE’s was, or Spoon was but apparently MSFT doesn’t care about developers any more.

    @Microsoft – you’ve been very quiet about HTML5 innerHTML.  Have you declared whether IE9 RTM will actually support this property properly?  Or will this just be the (13th?, 14th?, 15th?, 19th?) thing in IE9 that fails to meet the bar on?

    @Microsoft – HTML5 forms? It seems odd that IE is the only browser that hasn’t added new form controls in the last DECADE… are you holding out the good news to surprise us when the RC comes out?

    @Microsoft – there was a rumor floating around that MSFT wasn’t going to release IE9 at this years Mix because it won’t be ready (which makes perfect sense based on the beta’s we’ve seen thus far, and the lack of bug fixes).  Should we bother buying tickets to Mix this year? or wait until next year.

  • IE8 user

    5 Feb 2011 10:49 PM

    #

    Installing IE9 on Windows 7 or Windows Vista deletes existing features of IE7/iE8 which shipped with these operating systems. A dumbed down IE9 is the last thing anyone wants. No thanks, I am forced to stay with IE8 because of the superior customizable GUI despite the genuine rendering engine improvements in IE9.

  • Ottmar Freudenberger

    6 Feb 2011 12:32 AM

    #

    Ted / IE-Team: Have you checked with legal department? The EULA of XP-Mode reads:

    "1. GRANT OF LICENSE. Microsoft grants you the following rights provided that you comply with all terms and conditions of this EULA:

    1.1 Installation and use.  You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Software in a single virtual machine on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device (“Workstation Computer”), that contains a licensed copy of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate edition.  Virtualization software is required to use the Software on the Workstation Computer.  The Software may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer."

    Now what?

  • Olivier

    6 Feb 2011 9:46 AM

    #

    Why can’t we run Virtual PC in Windows 7 home edition ? Windows 7 is already much slower than Windows XP, but removing this king of features is very bad.

    Can we convert your WinXP VHDs into images compatible with VirtualBox ? Or do we need to install illegal versions of XP in VirtualBox (big advantage : no timelimit) ?

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