One of the issues with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 is that it isn’t easy to have it running simultaneously on the same machine as Internet Explorer 6.
For web developers, this is a real headache. Many of our visitors still use Internet Explorer 6 so we need to ensure our websites work well on IE6 but IE7 is becoming more popular by the day.
The Virtual Image
The Internet Explorer Team Blog talks about this issue and recognises it. To cut to the chase, the Internet Explorer team recommends using virtualization. This is a way of having a piece of software on your machine behave like it’s a computer. You can run operating systems inside a window in another operating system.
To help developers to that extent, they have released a free virtual machine containing a fully patched Windows XP SP2 with Internet Explorer 6. This will work with Microsoft’s free Virtual PC 2004 software. It’s pre-activated but it’s set up to expire in April 2007.
The IE team say they’ll investigate virtual machines with different versions of Internet Explorer and perhaps having the programme running as a service for developers on a concurrent basis.
Unfortunately you can’t run Virtual PC on Linux so web developers on Linux won’t be able to use this service.
- You can get a free copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 from Microsoft which lasts 180 days. Presumably this will run in a virtual machine and will have Internet Explorer, etc. but I haven’t tried it.
Standalone versions of IE are currently one of the most popular ways to have both IE6 and IE7 running on the same machine. You don’t have to worry about installs, virtual machines, etc. Simply download a zip file, extract it and run the relevant copy of iexplore.exe.
I’m currently using this method to test my sites in IE6 and IE5.5. There are several issues with running standalone IE and Microsoft don’t support it. But I find it works pretty well for just having a glance at the layout and it’s certainly a lot better than not testing in IE6 altogether.