Running multiple versions of IE on Vista

If you are a web developer you are going to want to test your website on multiple browsers, including multiple versions of Internet Explorer (IE).  Generally speaking, you should have your websites work for IE6 and higher.

I recently began using windows Vista which comes preloaded with Internet Explorer 7.  On Win XP you could use standalone executables of older versions of IE (including IE6 and down) along side of your normally installed IE7. However, the standalone installations of IE do not work on Vista.  I did find a solution but it is a bit more involved than I hoped.

First off, if you are running XP (or NT, 95, 98) you can simply install standalone versions of IE (they will work independently of each other).  Download the IE standalone zip files at evolt.  Skip past this section to the Vista solution.

Available versions:

For Win 9x:

  • IE 3
  • IE 4
  • IE 5.01
  • IE 5.5 SP2

Those 9x versions may work with Win ME.  I’m not sure because I haven’t tried it.  However if you are a serious (or not) web developer, you probably wouldn’t touch Windows ME with a 10 foot pole.

For Win NT and Win XP:

  • IE 3
  • IE 4.01
  • IE 5 SP2
  • IE 5.5 SP2
  • IE 6

Multiple IE Versions on Vista Solution

The team at IE Blog have generously provided a hard disk image of a windows XP installation (with IE 6) which you can use.

  1. First download and install Microsoft virtual PC (its free)
  2. Next, head over to IEBlog and get the image here. The file is a whopping 450mb, so put your feet up and wait. If you’re on dial-up, give up (or wait days, perhaps weeks).
  3. Run virtual PC and set up a new machine (the process is pretty self explanatory). Use the XP image you just downloaded.
  4. Run the system, you now have access to IE6.

That’s IE6 out of the way, what about the rest?

  • IE7 – You’re on Vista, so you have it!
  • IE6 – On your virtual PC
  • IE5/IE5.5 – Copy the standalone version (found at evolt) to your virtual PC (drag and drop, easy!)
  • Fix conditional comments on the virtual machine, by going start > run and typing regedit. Find HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftInternet ExplorerVersion Vector and rename the ‘IE’ key to ‘zIE’. Conditional comments will now function in the standalone versions.

Like I said, not the easiest, but it works!