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The VMs are designed for Virtual PC, which is of course only available for Windows.

There's a script called ievms that will automatically downloade those VMs and convert them for use with VirtualBox on OS X or Linux:


Virtual PC isn't supported in Windows 8 and I couldn't get these images working in Hyper-V. They are truly almost an afterthought from Microsoft.

Doesn't IE10 let you run the past versions of IE with developer mode? Haven't tried with IE10 but i know IE9 had it.

No: the compatibility modes aren't the same as the real browser - they try but some features, especially things like CSS or DOM handling of errors, non-standard properties, etc. will not be consistent enough to avoid testing in the real thing.

When IE8 was out, setting IE7 compatibility mode using an HTTP header worked for 99% of a huge internal business app but I had to monkey-patch around a third-party library because the code which worked in IE7 raised an exception in IE8's IE7 compatibility mode due to significant differences in the underlying JavaScript engine. This was an improvement - IE7 should have done the same - but it broke a huge enterprise shovelware system with an indifferent vendor who waited until after IE8 was released to start testing (a support manager actually contacted me asking if they could redistribute my patch!).

did you let them redistribute it?

I'd already posted it publicly, so I didn't even try to charge them.

No, that's compatibility mode. It isn't the actual browser.

Compatibility mode isn't what he's talking about. In the developer tools, there's also "browser mode", which allows you to select a different user agent, and "document mode", which allows you to select a rendering engine from IE7 onwards.

I know about them. They aren't actually the browsers in question, though. It's IE9/10 engine with some stuff disabled.

This. We had a client complain that their password failed validation using IE7. Even simple passwords that should pass failed.

Turned out to be an IE7 specific regex bug (a look ahead bug), that we couldn't replicate using IE8 and IE9 set to IE7 compat mode.

Tracked down a copy of XP with IE7 and replicated the bug. Which led me to Google regex bugs related to IE7 and managed to track down the exact issue.

the sad truth is; anything below ie7 should be dropped. Unless you are developing for a corporation that won't move away from ie6 and then you should only test on ie6.

The truth is anything below IE8 should be dropped. IE8's great... it has developer tools, JSON and localStorage, etc. IE7 and below have none of that.

Realistically it should be below ie8. IE7 is old and should be dropped.

My experience is that about 90% of the time, the compatibility mode in IE9 or IE10 will give you an accurate prediction of behavior in IE7 or IE8. It's that last 10% of the time, generally related to JavaScript issues in the original browser engines or obscure CSS bugs. So it works for basic stuff, but if you have anything complex going on you should test in a VM running the actual browser version you want to test.

Now this sounds interesting. Why wouldn't they run in 8?

Selling an operating system is an afterthought in Microsoft's attempts to get you to give them money. If only our other incompatibility woes were so blessed with such afterthoughts.

Big thumbs up here for ievms. I use it all the time and I not so humbly was the first person to donate money to the project.

I can't believe that it's only raised $400 so far. It's completely excellent and I know lots of people out there depend on it.

You can open VHD's in VirtualBox without any conversion.

Except these aren't VHDs, they're EXEs that wrap VHDs.

7zip opens them to reveal the .vhd.

ievms is not even necessary. This article explains how to do it with VirtualBox, http://samvermette.com/256

ievms was written for convenience, not out of necessity.

ievms is brilliant. It's made my life much easier, thanks.

I've been using these for the past few months and they've worked fine. Plenty of things I wish worked better, but for the most part I'm happy that it's free and I don't have to reboot just to debug some CSS.

Interesting. Is there a similar option for VMWare, or is the format too different?

VMWare Fusion's importer works perfectly - in the past there used to be a concern with drivers but at least by VMware 4 it just works.

Procedure: 1. Download 2. Use unrar or http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/unarchiver.html to unpack the segments 3. Open VMWare Fusion & choose import 4. Get coffee & wait for disk I/O 5. Install VMWare tools & pending Windows Updates 6. Take a snapshot so you can reset it after the timelimit sets in (as noted by Microsoft, they disallow storing data durably for more than 90 days)

Might as well just install VirtualBox, its free afterall. I stopped using VMWare when I had to buy it again for Lion.

VMWare Player is free (AFAIR for non-commercial use, whatever that is)

It's not available on OSX, they provide VMWare Fusion instead, which costs 50 bucks

I prefer trading time for money. Fusion is fast and just works.

There are utilities to convert a VirtualBox VM to VMware, if you are feeling adventurous :-). From my experience though, it's kinda painful (I forget what the issues were but I remember regretting the decision to convert the VM).

If you're on a Mac and have VMWare fusion its actually really easy. Just use VMWare to import the VHD files and it works fine. No need to use other utilities.

Yes it's just such a pity that the virtual pc images are so massive.

Thanks for that.

I was a little baffled why MS would make this images only run on Windows when the people most likely to need to emulate other versions of IE / Windows would be non-Windows users.

Presumably it's useful for web developers on Windows 7 or above, but who need to test on IE6/7.

As to why they'd use their own VM in preference to VirtualBox I don't know. But to be fair, Microsoft isn't the only company that neglects developers who aren't on their platform; "not invented here" syndrome seems to impact all software companies eventually!

I suspect it's more useful for their big customers who need to test multiple versions – IE's most dedicated users are in the enterprise space, where Windows XP is still a major desktop platform.

This is the most sane part of all IE testing I've done. Love it.

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