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Free Official MSIE VM's for Linux and Mac (modern.ie)
359 points by JunkDNA on June 13, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments

For a long time I was critical of MS for forcing developers to use their VirtualPC VM's because it just wasn't realistic: people use VMWare and VirtualBox as well as Macs and Linux. It was always an example of MS's frequent "plays poorly with others" behavior. Kudos to them for making it right.

What do you mean by "forcing"? I'm running Windows XP on VirtualBox without any problems.

If you wanted to legally run multiple versions of IE without having to have multiple Windows licenses for every combination (e.g. IE8/XP, IE8/Win7, IE10 Win7, IE10 Win8, etc...) you had to use the MS-provided virtual machines. However, these were only ever made available as VirtualPC images. So there was no way to run them, even on Windows, without all sorts of machinations (some of which may have violated the ToS).

I was always impressed that Microsoft let you use Windows in a virtual machine on another platform at all (not all their competitors do). But then I realised that it made business sense for them.

Which competitors don't? The only competitor that comes to mind is Apple and they don't block this either -- though I believe they were the last holdout. Nor does Google, in any capacity, with Android or ChromeOS.

Edit: I am dead wrong. Apple only permits the virtualization of OS X on Apple hardware, per the EULA. It does not permit the virtualization of OS X on non-Apple hardware.


You still can't run OS X on non-Apple hardware can you? I'd love it if they changed that.

No you cannot. They relaxed the EULA to allow virtualization of Mac OS from a Mac OS host, however. You can also use the same licensed copy that acts as the host.

The EULA revision came along with 10.8. Prior to that you could virtualize 10.7 Server, but once again, only with Mac OS as the host, and only with another licensed copy.

The revision came with 10.7 (non server).


Prior to that you could only virtualized 10.6 server.

Hackintoshes are great... if you're content never to update :/

Or have weeks of free time to root out issues with zero documentation except for random forum posts.

And a willingness to seethe with hatred at anyone who says they resolved an issue that's plaguing you without giving any hints as to how they resolved it.

Sure you can. They have 10.8 VMs for VMWare Workstation. I'd recommend at least 8gb of RAM for smoother access though.

The EULA forbids you to run OS X on non-Apple hardware though.

"to install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software, for purposes of: (a) software development; (b) testing during software development; (c) using OS X Server; or (d) personal, non-commercial use."


"They" being someone that posted an image on bittorrent? Apple doesn't license OS X for VMWare anywhere except Apple hardware. You can't even run a 10.8 guest on a 10.7 host per their license, which is really annoying.

VMWare ESXi (and Fusion too, I expect) runs legitimate installations, with no hacks required, as long as it's on Apple hardware. You need the InstallESD.img file from the OS installer.

That has questionable legality in the United States. I won't want to run it on my corporate PC.

For VMWare Fusion, not VMWare Workstation, I believe, as Workstation doesn't have an OSX version, and as others have said, their license doesn't allow for running a VM on non-Apple hardware.

I don't know OSX versions, is that a recent one?

More important, can I get the most recent versions of browsers? (Safari,Chrome,FireFox)

10.9 was just announced last week at WWDC.

It's possible to attempt using OSX on a PC through VMware, but I can attest to the fact that it works very poorly. We tried to do this at one of my jobs, and for development in Xcode, it was for all practical purposes unusable.

True. And although there is a process to convert VirtualPC images to work with other formats, which I did (on OSX), however it was a major pain in the ass. Frankly, I love the new model. MS deserves to be denigrated when they do bad, and they certainly have a mountain of web-karma to countermand, but they did good in this respect and deserve to be praised for it.

I believe the previous official images were for Virtual PC or Hyper-V only.

You can install Windows XP anywhere, but I think JunkDNA was referring specifically to the distributed VMs for testing IE, which in the past were always VHDs.

Yes, but all you had to do was rename the `exe` to a `rar` & extract the VHD. Which worked on VirtualBox. The criticism is weak.

Why? Why the proprietary rar format? I mean, is there any reason to actually use rar over even "only" xz nowadays or for big downloads, zpaq (lrzip is probably not mainstream enough I guess)? And 1000 megabyte parts? Why?

Hi Tmmrn. I work on the team that made these available. We originally had these as >3Gb single files and had many requests to reduce the file sizes from people who had failed transfers. It also helps when using sneaker net to setup test environments that are isolated and you need USB sticks to move bits around.

We went with RAR because: * It's available on all platforms * No client or 3rd party software needed to extract when using self extracting SFX and EXEs respectively * some degree of built in resiliency and self correction

Hope you find them useful. Open to suggestions for improvement too. Follow the team @IEDevChat for updates and feedback.

My suggestion: use 7-zip

Open Source, available on all the major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX). You can find also the MSI version that can be deployed via Active Directory GPO


Oh, and you can create self-extracting file too (even though I don't know if you can unpack them on other platforms, never tried, but I should bet you can do it)

It's silly to recommend a program when complaining about a format. But yes it would be better if they used zip, which also happens to be integrated in Windows Explorer.

afaik the plain .zip doesn't support multi-part archives and that's what they needed due to the file size. by citing 7-zip (site) I was of course suggesting the .7z file format that is opensource and there are softwares and libraries freely available.

http://www.ehow.com/how_6943340_extract-split-zip-files.html would suggest otherwise, though I can't try it myself at the moment.

  > … 7z file format that is opensource …
.ZIP is in the public domain ;)

.7z is a format too, and 7-zip supports that and other common formats like zip and rar.

Plus, WinRAR can extract these just fine.

Alternatively, this is a perfect use case for a torrent.

It always boggles the mind how the big players seem to be avoiding this download scheme like the plague even though it's unrivalled for these kinds of downloads, especially when there's a rush on the files like you'll no doubt notice in the next 10 days or so.

Most corporations block torrents. I would get roasted alive if I installed bittorrent at work.

Most large corporations, but for the freelancers and folks working for small business, a .torrent would be a godsend as an option. Especially if done with something like S3's torrent support, which lets Amazon function as the always-there seeder.

Glad you are here. Thank you so much for doing this. Just wanted to let you know that I found out about this via a twitter sponsored tweet. So whoever decided to do that as a marketing idea probably is getting their money's worth.

Looks like someone from Microsoft has some old warez scene habits.

Well there are two types of young nerds - those who use open source and those who use cracked commercial software. It's only natural that the first type doesn't usually end employed by MS.

Although they come from Microsoft, I don't feel enormously comfortable doing this:

    chmod +x LinuxVirtualBox.part1.sfx; ./LinuxVirtualBox.part1.sfx

Especially because they're not downloaded over HTTPS...

The URLs look like HTTPS to me?

curl -O "https://az412801.vo.msecnd.net/vhd/IEKitV1_Final/VMWare_Fusi...

And aren't signed.

for a lot of self extracting files, take a look at p7zip. It'll usually work on most of them, including some of the funky windows installers.

It's also great to pull data off a cd image without mounting, it.

I'd think you could un-rar them manually.

Yes you can. I just tested with unrar.

When I do as above. I got: "bash: ./IE8.WinXP.For.LinuxVirtualBox.sfx: No such file or directory" What can I do?

I was assuming the built-in NSA access was making people uncomfortable. ;)

Naah, only good people get to rise to the top of the US politics. They would never abuse your data.

Why not be comfortable with it? Unless, of course, you are one of those who have something to hide. ;-)

Welcome to the 8mil people club!

A while back (some time in the last year), they had a few of the files zipped up. There were a lot of support requests for help unzipping it. The files had a >4GiB file inside, requiring zip64 extensions. I remember at the time, my out of the box version of unzip on OS X did not support zip64 extensions - I think 6.0 is when support is added.

I'm not arguing for rar in particular, just commenting on the difficulties I saw and experienced when using the zip files they provided at one point.

I remember this problem too (I was reading http://twitter.com/reybango at this time). It was when they first launched modern.ie. If I remember correctly, there was also a problem with the initial XP image that led to it being pulled.

> Why? Why the proprietary rar format?

They want all the assurances that come from software with a corporate face attached to it. They wouldn't subject their users to software made by amateur hobbyists.

And why bother splitting up large files when most clients can resume partial HTTP requests?

Well... Fat32 FSs don't support files > 2GB

But yeah, it's silly.

Somehow, I imagine they are not hosting these off FAT32 filesystems.

Maybe it's IIS that isn't very good with partial HTTP requests... ;-)

FAT32 is common on portable storage (SD cards, USB 'thumb' drives), especially when cross-platform support is a concern.

I understand that FAT32 has a role in portable storage. What I fail to understand is the relation between USB drives and serving VM images.

Sneakernet moving of files to non-network connected devices.

And how common would that use case be when we are talking about virtual machines used in web development?

Very common

Copying a 4GB file through a congested wi-fi connection may be very slow

It's easier and faster to copy to a good USB drive

Or, uh, use cat6.

Seems like a perfect case for distributing with bit-torrent, but I suppose I should not be surprised that they aren't.

This was annoying. Thankfully you run the .sfx file and it stitches all the rars into a single vm. I too would love to know the reasoning.

OK, now I've got a pretty solid IE test setup, how do I go about testing Mac browsers (eg Safari) without a Mac? AFAIK the Mac OS X license says it can't be virtualized under non-Mac hardware. It looks like the only options are to use remote testing services, buy Apple hardware or illegally use Mac on a non-Mac host.

http://browserstack.com ?

I'm not affiliated with them or anything. Just started using last weekend and liked it a lot.

I use browserstack a fair bit already (and have used saucelabs in he past). These remote testing services are really great and cover 80% of my testing needs. However what they don't do is let you get a true feel for what it's like for an end user to interact with the site due to the latency. This becomes more apparent with interactive web apps.

Without a mac, you have no choice but something like BrowserStack

However, when you cave... I test OSX with VMWare following this guide:


If Apple won't let you easy/chip to test on their browser, then just don't do it. Place a big red "please upgrade to modern browser" banner and be done with that. Of course, if client wants to sponsor testing, he can do it at his own will.

Yep, it would really be great if there was something similar to this for Safari on OSX.

Going down the Apple hardware route it looks like a Mac Mini is the cheapest option. Unless the Mac OS X licence doesn't prohibit running it on Apple TV somehow.

Apple TV is iOS, not OS X.

Yes, but it's still Apple hardware and a quick Google shows that it may be possible to install Mac OS X on it.

Classic example of UX nightmare: So I follow the link, I see a button that says get free VMS. I click it. I then can't figure out what I'm meant to do. I stare at some weird quickstart offer. I give up. I come back to HN, and think - how come others have managed to download their images. I go back, I realise that the button just activates a dropdown/rollup (and it's already in the dropdown state, so clicking the button rolls it up!), and then finally I get to the VM images. To be honest, It would be easier to just have an apache directory index, with folders and a load of accompanying checksums. I got there in the end.

The other thing that I failed to notice, was that this was actually a Microsoft site! Why not hang off of their domain name? How am I supposed to know this is official?

While I see your opinion, I think it is largely confused. That button you pressed is greyed out, as it has already been pressed.

Actually, part of the issue is that the original poster provided a deep link into the site, which maintained the user's state, viewing the download flow.

The big blue button asking you to "Select desired testing OS" was not obvious?

The button colour is grey. It doesn't change colour with a state change/hover. The button has a right arrow on it, not a down arrow. Which indicates to me that I'll be leaving the page. It's not obvious it will do a drop down.

Agree that it didn't help that it was a deep link.

(What I neglected to say, was that my first attempt failed also, in my 'reading' web browser. That eschews background images. But that's another issue. So I'd already repasted the link into a different browser before having further issues.)

I get the page now, I just had an issue when I first encountered it.

I actually think the second of my points was the more important - how do you trust the authenticity of the site?

Took me a second to understand what the two blue dropdowns were for.

To me the "desired [for] testing OS" would refer to the guest OS running IE. "Select host OS" would have made a lot more sense to me.

Or just list the 9 options as links on the page and let me click them like any normal web content.

Does it say that? It reads 'Select Desired Testing OS', which is an odd phrase. It could read 'Select desired testing (host) OS'. But may aswell just read 'Select host OS', as you suggest. Seems to be a classic case of Microsoft changing terminology, and just confusing everyone further down the line in the process.

You could spell out what a host OS is on a descriptive help text next to the form control.

Also noticed that there's no VMWare option under Linux - why would that be?

Plus the blue font isn't really dark enough to read.

Great to see some md5s though!

Another niggle, which I totally missed the first time is that if you select the wrong option navigate away from the page. And then use the back button - you are back to square one. Which is a good reason why this type of download page just doesn't really work.

Disclosure: I work at MSFT, though not on this.

> It reads 'Select Desired Testing OS', which is an odd phrase.

Right. I read that with the implied [for]. Even still, it's odd.

My workflow is: I already have a host OS. I desire to download a VM image running an OS on which to test my site in IE.

> Seems to be a classic case of Microsoft changing terminology, and just confusing everyone further down the line in the process.

I can't imagine there's any malintent here. Just some website editing by folks who are not immersed in the cross-platform virtualization terminology.

> You could spell out what a host OS is on a descriptive help text next to the form control.

Anyone doing virtualization ought to know what 'host' and 'guest' mean. Just use the standard terms, overexplaining it just confuses it. But that's just my own bias.

> Also noticed that there's no VMWare option under Linux - why would that be?

Probably they just didn't get around to testing that case specifically. The VMware images for other host OSes might work just fine.

> Great to see some md5s though!

Death to MD5! :-) SHA-2-256 FTW. Better yet, GPG and/or Authenticode sigs.

> Another niggle, which I totally missed the first time is that if you select the wrong option navigate away from the page. And then use the back button - you are back to square one. Which is a good reason why this type of download page just doesn't really work.

Flippin' gratuitous Javascript. :-)

Cheers for the response.

I should have said 'Great to see some checksums!'.

(I looked high and low for checksums for my Windows 8 download, and what I did find didn't match what I had. Gives you a little piece of mind after a 7hour download, and a crashed OS!)


This is great -- it's about time they made these available for VirtualBox etc too, and on a proper, user-friendly page. (Previously they were just for VirtualPC, and required a bit of tricky configuration to get working in VirtualBox at least.)

I've actually been using the Windows 7 / IE9 version of this for a while. There is a nice simple install w/snapshot that I utilized on both my Ubuntu machine and my Mac. It takes a snapshot before powering the machine so once your 90 days is up, you can just roll the snapshot back.


Edit: I mainly use IE to interact with work's IE-only CRM/ticket system.

This looks cool, though I couldn't get it to work - The install ran fine, but VirtualBox doesn't show any VMs :s

Dynamics CRM? If so don't install IE10 as they don't play nice.

BMC Service Desk. I also worked for a company that used Siebel. With Siebel, I could actually get that to work with IE6 under Wine, but it would peg one of the CPU cores at 100%.

F12, browser mode: IE9 ;)

Wow, what's the $860 for, hosting?

I'm not sure I follow.

http://i.imgur.com/8STooks.png ?

edit: Ah, I see after clicking it says, "Donate to support the development of ievms". Wasn't criticizing, just curious what it was for.

Do they expire? Previousy IE VMs from Microsoft were only valid for ~90 days or something and required re-downloading (and then re-configuring all settings which was pita).

Hi vizzah. These are all Enterprise Evaluation versions of Windows for the most part and they all expire. We recommend you download once, take a snapshot BEFORE first use, then after 90 days revert to the snapshot. Not ideal I know as you still lose any changes you did to the image but saves you downloading again and configuring. Apologies for that bit of pain.

Follow @IEDevChat for updates and stuff.

Per the blog post listed from modern.ie, the IE6 VMs expire after 90 days and the others become crippled after 90 days. Sounds like more of the same.


Just take a snapshot of your VM after you have configured it the way you like. I do this with VMWare. When 90 days goes by, roll back to that snap shot.

take note of anything you upgraded since so you can create a new 90 day snapshot with more of the recent updates

And often MS people would forget to upload updated VM.

The great irony is I ended up hacking legal VMs. At least they're better about it now.

The only thing weird I found about this, is the win8 ie10 vmware for mac on microsoft.com comes with a boot virus, or so says Avast. It reports it has Kampana-37XX. Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/wXOu3uJ.png

It's about time. The "Grab them all with cURL" instructions are also a nice touch.

I had no idea curl supported that kind of syntax. Neat.

It's actually bash syntax (the curly brace part):

    $ echo a{b,c}{d,e}

FWIW it's also available in zsh and ksh93.

I got the previous images the last time this site came up. Using Hyper-V that comes with Win 8 http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/07/bringing-hyper... to run them. Works a treat. VMWare workstation is also very good though.

I've been using VMWare Workstation for about a decade now... I've tried a few other VM platforms, and they've all not been quite as usable imho... I will say their support of ESXi updates, and pretty much dropping VMWare Server has been pretty bad.

If you have access to a windows box, here's a better solution: Install IE10 and use the dev tools (F12). there you can set browser emulation to IE 7,8,9,10.

doesn't include ie6, but not many people still use it: http://www.ie6countdown.com/

Don't do this for web development. The browser emulations are just that, emulations, and they fail to be perfect emulations.

Which means you are likely to be fixing rendering issues and buggy behaviour in the emulated version that don't exist on the real thing, and more importantly missing issues that are evident in the real browser but not on the emulation.

It's a cognitive dissonance, you are testing a browser stack your customers won't be using.

Virtual machines are practically a better solution, though it gets into slighty murky territory when there's a lot of JavaScript magic going on. At that point, nothing really beats a native browser running on native hardware.

IE10's dev tools emulation is not perfect, and has its own set of quirks. Especially as it relates to the JS runtime[1].

[1] http://alexjmackey.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/how-accurate-ie-...

thanks for the tips guys, i guess i have to give the ie7 one a download :/

Have any of you actually used these? To start off they are a pain to download/setup, come on Microsoft, you make the freaking OS and you can't package it any better? Second, these VM's are constantly complaining about not being activated. I understand that MS can't just rip that part of the OS out however it's a massive slap in the face to have them act like they give a shit about web developers and then have them provide sub-par VM's. I can pirate the OS and make my own (better) VM's which is really sad if you ask me. Also I have had the VM's shut down on me multiple times to go "update".

TL;DR: These VM's suck and you are better off pirating the OS and making your own VM's.

This free Honda Civic sucks, you'd be way better off stealing a Ferrari.

That's some pretty odd logic. What about buying the OS? Since you're, you know, using it for work? Is that not an option? The ROI would be pretty high, I'm guessing. If I only had the on-screen keyboard, my solution would be to buy a keyboard, not shoplift one.

> his free Honda Civic sucks, you'd be way better off stealing a Ferrari. That's some pretty odd logic.

It is indeed, mainly because your analogy is so awful. You might as well have said:

"This free cake sucks, you'd be way better off beating someone to death with an elephant."

It would be equally stupid but at least it has cake in it.

I don't understand where stealing the better service comes into the flow of thought.

Free service is bad. Solution, buy better service? Why is the solution steal better service? It's immediately convenient and cheaper, but the long term seems disadvantageous to multiple parties.

> I don't understand where stealing the better service comes into the flow of thought.

A Ferrari is a service now? Or have you given up on your analogy? In either case, accepting something that's freely given isn't stealing.

What? I didn't imply accepting a gift was stealing, I said that if you got a free gift, didn't like it, and wanted something better, the obvious next step is to buy something better. Yet joshstrange's _immediate_ next step is to steal the better thing. Not to even look for a price quote, but immediately to steal it.

Normal thought pattern: "I want something decent. I will see how much it costs and perhaps purchase it."

Abnormal thought pattern: "I want something decent. I will steal it."

Why does Microsoft owe us anything? If we want to do business on Windows, and support IE, the obvious and legal thing to do is buy a copy of Windows and use it. Not bitch because they're not giving us the best possible stuff for free.

I like this because I'm interested in creating more cross-platform projects.

By that I mean, not only does this webapp work on recent versions of Internet Explorer, but a developer can easily get up and running on it using windows (as well as Linux or OS X). I don't want a situation of “you should really be using this OS to develop on this project, and not those other ones”.

I don't want to go out and pay for windows just to do this. It's not my primary OS, and it isn't going to be. But I do want to be able to say, “you can easily develop and run my app on Windows”. Having something like this from Microsoft might be just the push I need to make that happen.

This is rather old news - but it seems it's new to some.

I put together some setup notes for Linux with Virtual Box (Ubuntu in my case) in a Gist, as I found some of the Microsoft setup notes were lacking:


Is it me or does this design make your head spin in circles, too? Not really a relevant discussion of the topic at hand, but damn... This is one of the worst designs I've experienced in a while, in a brain-is-so-confused-my-eyes-are-crossing, kind of way.

I find it funny that the Linux platform dropdown doesn't offer the VMWare VM...

How does this compare to what you get when you run the ievms script?


I'm pretty sure they are sourced from the same VM's.

The only notable difference is that ievms converts (or did when I tried it last) from the VirtualPC copy - MS is now allowing these for download in other formats (Parallels/VMWare/Virtualbox) without needing to convert.

Does anyone use this Browserling? https://browserling.com/

Except these stop working after 90 days.

Its a virtual machine though, just make a snapshot once you have it booted and working as you'd like, and roll it back when you're done. If I remember, that was Microsoft's recommendation as well.

Do these still have time limits on them?

Yes, but you can just re-import the image every so often. They're meant to be transient VMs for testing, so blowing them away every 90 days shouldn't be a problem.

You can also just snapshot them, and roll-back when you're done.

I had been using these to game my Dropbox account:

1. Configure the VM up the point of signing up / downloading the client. 2. Change the PC Name & spoof a new Mac Address in the VM. 3. Sign up under a referral code. 4. Rollback to the snapshot in step 1.

How about: 1. Use your technical skills to built something of value. 2. Use a small part of the inevitable monetary reward to pay Dropbox.

Well, that's not nice.

Thanks for working to ruin a great thing for the rest of us.

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