Testing IE6 Sites With IE7 Installed

Today I said I would bite the bullet and install the full version of IE7 but was a little aprehensive as I would need to test my existing sites and applications in IE6. It went smoothly enough.

2006-10-20 19:08:00.0

Testing IE6 Sites With IE7 Installed

When the second beta of Internet Explorer 7 was released I installed it and hated it. There was too much missing for me to feel comfortable using it and as a big fan of IE6 I was dismayed by the changes to the UI.

Today I said I would bite the bullet and install the full version of IE7 but was a little aprehensive as I would need to test my existing sites and applications in IE6. It went smoothly enough.

I installed IE7 and then did some searching for a stand alone Internet Explorer 6 so I could run both at the same time.

I found such a download at : http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/32bit/standalone

When extracted I placed it in a folder in Program Files called Internet Explorer 6 and created a shortcut to it.

The bottom line is it works. The rendering part anyway. I can see what a site will look like in IE6 which was my aim but the settings are inherited from Internet Explorer 7 so some strange things happen with some sessions and plug-ins.

Overall I really really like Internet Explorer 7 and this time I think I'll stick with it. The installation was painless and all my add-ins and links etc held up aswell as ActiveX controls etc

The CSS is way way better and I am beginning to get used to the UI changes.

Screenshot Of IE6 and IE7 running together - click to enlarge

Screenshot Of IE6 and IE7 running together- click to enlarge

The conditional CSS hack used came from this page : http://www.brothercake.com/reference/ie7/xxx.html

Tags: IE7
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Comments [11] - Leave a comment


kirk said:
So I went to the above mentioned site and downloaded ie6eolas_nt.zip. After installing it I ran IE 6 and it used IE 7's rendering engine and loaded a page correctly that should have had a CSS error in IE6. I have the non-beta version of IE7 install on windows XP 32bit. Did you use a different install file for ie6? Cause the above method definitly did not work on any of the test machines I tried.
Dan said:
Hi Kirk,

I updated the post above to show a screenshot of both browsers running and using different rendering engines.

Daniel Stockman said:
Unfortunately, this hack only works on sites that don't use cookies (which rules out most login-required services). Otherwise, thanks for the link to a convenient hack.

Wouldn't it be nice if MS didn't screw over web developers (for the <em>n</em>th time) and include some sort of "IE6 Mode" with IE7? You know, in that magical fairy land where IE7 <em>actually</em> supported seven year-old standards.
Danlance said:
The approach we have taken for testing in IE6 / IE7 on the same machine, is to build a virtual machine containing IE7 (using Microsoft Virtual PC) - and having IE6 installed on our actual development machines.

We then do all IE7 testing using the virtual machine.

There were some issues with this method:

1/ Its time consuming to set up - but having set up one virtual machine you can roll it out to all your developers with minimal configuration changes.

2/ All of our development is done against a local web server (localhost) and settings are loaded dynamically dependant on the hostname. All development machines are set up identically, so each application has a configuration setting for localhost.
When testing using a virtual machine, we need to point to the site which is running on the actual pc - not localhost, which would point to the virtual machine.
To avoid having to put individual settings in for each development machine, we have used a loop back adapter, and configured the same host name to point to the same IP address on the loop back interface.
As the loop back interface is only visible to the host pc and the individual virtual pc running on it, this can run fine despite the same IP address being used within virtual machines running on different hosts.

3/ Running a virtual machine at the same time as all our development software requires high level of resources. All our dev machines have 2GB Ram, and most of them are at least a 1.8Ghz Dual Core. 1Gb Ram is not enough - as you really need 512 dedicated to the virtual machine for it to be usable.

4/ Licensing - Every copy of windows XP you run needs its own license, therefore under normal circumstances, you'd need 2 windows licences to do this. However, MSDN licences are assigned per developer and not per installation, so if you have an MSDN subscription, you should be OK.

This approach is possibly not the easiest one, but using it we can be absolutely certain that what we are seeing is exactly what other viewers are seeing with the same browser.
Vince said:
Worked like a charm - exactly what I was looking for. Cheers, Dan!
Jos said:
Thanks Dan! Despite the cookie annoyance this was very helpful. I am counting the days (uh years) until developers won't have to support IE6.
Alison said:
Exactly what I was looking for! And people said it wasn't possible..
luggage said:
But Dan, it's not just regular UI features that cause problems for people. I can't even use IE7 as an FTP uploading tool anymore. It's a complete disaster for me. If I could use the system the way that it was meant to be used, then I wouldn't care about some of the facial features and the UI that has been changed around. But now all I can access on FTP is my directory and I can't add anything to it. You solve that problem and maybe I'll stick with IE7. And the guys are right, the IE6 stand alone doesn't work for everyone...especially if you're running Vista--the two paired together are a monster, not that putting in IE7 makes it any less of a hassle...But how do you solve for the problems of IE7 without having to run two different versions of IE? Because the stand alone isn't working for me.
Gavin said:
Just stumbled upon this post while looking for a solution myself. Figured I'd pass on what I've just learnt elsewhere.

You can use MS's free Virtual PC 2007

and then the free Win XP SP2 (pre-activated), IE6 virtual PC from
Our tech team didn?t recommend the use of IE7 at work. They found some bugs with it so we?re still stuck with IE6 and/or Firefox. I guess I need to forward your post to the tech people and see what they can say about it.
Hello Dan.
Thank you for sharing this resources. It's working fine, if we can assume that IE6 display elements correctly :). I ran on an XP machine with SP3 installed, and so far IE6 behaves as I know it ;). Except for some flickering on an element displayed as block with some :hover effect attached to it. The known issues are still there. Works fine with IE8, on my machine.

Good luck.
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