Setting up IE6, IE7 and IE8 properly for website testing

January 23rd, 2012

Testing your website/application in different Internet Explorer versions is a real challenge. To SEE what the website looks like, there are some great websites to show how your site looks in different browsers. Some of them are:

However, the above will show you how it looks, but not how it WORKS – you can’t use or interact with the website at all – it’s just a screenshot – so for quick visuals, it’s good – but these fall short for us nearly ever time.

How do I test better on my own PC?

The shortcut way (we don’t do this)

There are a few applications that allow to test your site in different browsers, both free and commerce. We sometimes use IETester for a quick check if all IEs display website correctly.

If you have Internet Explorer v9 installed on your PC, you can use developer tools provided within a browser to switch easily between IE7, IE8, IE9. Press F12 to display developer console. You can then switch between browser and document modes. You are able to see if  page is displayed well. Moreover you can check if there are any Javascript errors in Console tab and check HTML structure in HTML tab. So useful for debugging!

So how do you test with all Internet Explorer versions (6, 7, 8) on one machine, as NATIVE, properly functioning browsers?

If you want to make sure that your site is displayed properly in all IE versions, the best solution is to have all versions installed on your PC. But as you can not have more then one version of Internet Explorer installed on your PC … and you will probably not want to buy a new PC just to have IE 6 on it… you have to find a circumvent :-)

You can use Virtual PC to create multiple system environments on your PC and install Windows and different Internet Explorer versions on them.

Steps for installing and configuring multiple Virtual PCs

1. Download and install Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP mode

To download and install Virtual PC follow this link to Microsoft website .  Choose proper version of your operating system and download the files.

Then install Windows XP mode and Virtual PC on your computer. Run/open the downloaded files and you’ll start the installer. Follow the instructions on the screen and wait for XP mode to be set up by installer.

And here you go, running Windows XP on Virtual PC with old, bad Internet Explorer 6:)

2. Shut down the Virtual machine

After you’ve created your first virtual machine above, you’ll have Windows XP with IE6. You now need to SHUT DOWN this virtual machine – DO NOT hibernate. Here’s how -

  • go to the virtual machines (use Start Menu “virtual machines” – you’re not opening up the virtual machine file folder, but the virtual machines list)
  • right click and choose SETTINGS
  • Change the “Close” setting to “Prompt for action”
  • Save and close
  • Start the virtual machine and let it load fully
  • “X” to close the virtual machine
  • Choose Shut Down (and do not tick the keep settings box – it’s useful to choose!)

3. Duplicate this first machine

Go to virtual machines folder on hard drive

You should have at least two files -

  • Windows XP Mode.vmc
  • Windows XP Mode.vhd

Copy these two files, and rename to “WinXP with IE7″ for both, so you now also have -

  • WinXP with IE7.vmc
  • WinXP with IE7.vhd

Open the WinXP with IE7.vmc file with notepad

Scroll down to the <ide_adapter> section – it’s about quarter of the way down in mine there are two lines -

<absolute type="string">D:\UserData\Virtual Machines\Windows XP Mode.vhd</absolute>
<relative type="string">.\Windows XP Mode.vhd</relative>

Change the values in both of these to the new virtual hard drive, so -

<absolute type="string">D:\UserData\Virtual Machines\WinXP with IE7.vhd</absolute>
<relative type="string">.\WinXP with IE7.vhd</relative>

and save and close the file.

4. To have the new Virtual PC files show up in the Virtual PC list is easy – just RUN the new WinXP with IE7.vmc file (double click it) – and it will automatically add to the Virtual PC list!

You now have a brand new Virtual PC that’s in no way connected to the first one – so that’s first one can be kept as the original and never touched if you wish, and you can copy it to as many new Virtual PCs as you wish (that’s how I’ve done it here).

So now you’re running this new Virtual PC for IE7, we need to install IE7 on it – as at the moment it’s running IE6.

Easy – download and install IE7 – URL is http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=2

Rinse and repeat

6. To do this again for IE8 just follow from step 2 above and repeat for IE8

The download location for IE8 is http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=43

And that’s it!

We hope that helps someone. If you have any comments or further ideas, please let us know!

Mark

About

Mark is the CEO of LogicSpot and loves his job. He still gets up every day and is happy to be in a career that he loves. From a young age he wasn't sure whether to go down the route of IT and software development, or art and design - both being his flair through schooling along with music. He chose the embodiment of both - designing beautiful websites and applications with his team that deliver beyond client expectations with finesse and grace
  • Colin

    The IE8 link seems to be identical to the IE7 one. Otherwise – superb, thanks.

  • Colin
    • Mark

      Hi Colin. Ahh, fantastic – glad the post was of use to you :-) I’ve just updated the link in the post now – thanks so much for taking time to let us know!

  • http://www.spidergap.com Alex

    Really useful post! This is already helping us make sure our new features support IE6, 7, and 8. Thanks Mark!!

  • http://dynamicbusiness.co.uk Dan

    Really helpful post. Thanks for putting it up!

    I’m not sure if things have changed since this post but it took me a while to realise that the virtual machines folder on my hard drive was in ‘C:\Users\myname\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines’.

    I also noticed that in my .vmc file is down as .

    Not nit-picking, I thought it may help other in the same situation.

    Thanks again.

  • Steven Stevenson

    Thanks for this very useful article, which I’ll be using to create separate XP Modes for IE6 and a later version of IE before Microsoft ceases providing critical updates in April 2014.

    A minor correction: In “Scroll down to the section”, it should read ‘ide_adapter’.

  • disqus_mfS4ooakZf

    Thanks for the article, it solved my IE8 need, but … How could you run IE9 on XP mode (as stated within title & article several times)? The MS installer simply rejects to continue (as IE9 was not runnable on XP)

    • http://www.logicspot.com Mark Haller

      Hi there – yep, an oversight when I wrote this! I think I was on a PC that had IE9 on it natively (Win7) … but didn’t make the connection between IE9 (native) + IE8, IE7, IE6 – therefore all on same PC! I’ve now edited the title and the article to exclude IE9 :-)