Multiple IEs on one machine

With the recent release of a preview of IE7 beta 2, there's been another slew of demands for "standalone IE", and much posturing on both sides about whether Microsoft can/should provide this.

I said to Molly Holzschlag of the Web Standards Project back in November 2005 that the " way of testing IE with multiple installs is using Virtual PC."  That is still the case.  I discussed a little bit in that interview how .local works, and why it is an unsupported scenario.  I also said we've known about the .local trick for a long time - even use it occasionally internally, but that we know exactly what the effects are.  We are not to my knowledge disabling this in any way in IE7, but that I can't guarantee it will work in the future either, and it may not have appropriate behavior anyway (because you're running "most" of IE6, or "most" of IE7). 

In short, I'm not telling you the ONLY way of testing multiple IEs on one machine is VPC.  It's the BEST way.  We are not going to officially support using .local to run multiple IEs on one machine, because it is potentially unstable.  IE is a collection of DLLs that are designed to work as parts of the operating system, and if you have a mismatched set it may cause problems.  As far as I personally am concerned, you can use this to test HTML rendering and switching out MSHTML.DLL, and "most" of the time it will work - but it's not the same as having a full set of new IE system DLLs installed.

Comments (65)

  1. webecho says:

    Hi Chris

    Could you point me in the right direction to find out more about this .local setup please.

    I have recently installed IE7 beta, great but now i can’t test my websites in IE 6 and, being honest, I’m not about to spend loads of cash on Virtual PC just to run IE 6

    So far IE 7 seems to render exactly as FF 1.5 does so maybe it’s off with 7 and back on with 6



  2. ieblog says:

    You can find more information about it at a number of places – is a good place to start.

  3. SympleByte says:

    I know that Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 has been out for awhile, but I just got around to installing it and I thought I would take her for a little test drive.  I’ll include the relevant links at the bottom of the post, but before you rush out and install

  4. Marli says:

    Ok, lets just put this in perspective. IE is a _web browser_. Yes it is. It’s a stinking, bloody web browser.

    And you want me to run multiple virtual machines via an expensive software product just so I can test my web sites in multiple versions of this web browser?

    Explain to me how this makes any rational sense at all.

    I am a software engineer, so I understand the (possible) technical implications of a standalone IE, but here’s the thing: I am also a web developer, and I am also a user. And user’s *don’t* care about technical details. Give us what we want.

    If your web browser is too broken to allow multiple versions on the same OS, you have much bigger problems than you think.

  5. Ben Buchanan says:

    No doubt it is the best way to test multiple IEs… but seriously, it’s not a cheap bit of software (especially in a market of free browsers). Although it’s still cheaper than buying a Mac Mini just to test Mac browsers 😉

    Is there any chance MS would ever release a free, packaged install of VPC+IE? As in, a package which will not run any other app – so MS wouldn’t be giving away VPC – but it will load up different IEs?

  6. IEBlog says:

    This morning we released IE7 Beta 3 for Windows XP. This version includes improvements in reliability,…

  7. Howdy.

    I have IE6 & IE7 beta2 running side by side on my testing PC.

    I’m a Mac person, so I also have Safari, WebKit Nightly, OmniWeb, Opera 9, Shiira, etc…

    I have a PowerPC Mac, so I use Remote Desktop to connect to a barebones PC. Eventually i’ll get an Intel mac and Parallels Desktop so I can use a single machine.

    I’m going to try and install BETA3 now.

  8. I second the recommendation of Ben Buchanan above. Make a VPC+IE package that allows for testing multiple IEs. It would be great if all users would upgrade en masse when new browsers are available, but it just ain’t gonna happen. As a developer I really need a way to run IE6 and IE7 at the same time. VPC sounds like a good deal, but is on the spendy side just to be able to test a browser.

  9. Dana says:

    I can’t believe that you seriously expect developers to shell out $$$ for Virtual PC (which has it’s own problems) simply to test their web sites in different versions of browsers — one of them a BETA!!  It is just a web browser and should be separated from the OS.  It is ridiculous that IE is so tied to Windows that you can’t uninstall it or have different versions running side-by-side.

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  11. Dan Caseley says:

    On the plus side, MS Virtual PC is now *free*. Test away!

  12. Steve says:

    VPC is free, but you have to buy a new copy of Windows if you bought from an OEM like HP, since their copy of windows only installs on its hardware (which it can not detect on VPC). So you still have to spend $300 to use IE6.

  13. Ronny says:

    So, I have to test via VPC. Ok. That’s one more SW installation on my box. It is also one extra OS license. Another "box" to nurse…

    But, I am a developer and I am using MS Visual Studio for my development. I am actively developing new sites, not only doing regression testing of old sites. Meaning that line-by-line debugging is something that I do a lot when developing client-side scripts. So, if I want to debug my scripts I need to install MS Visual Studio too on the VPC. Great. Luckily the VS Express edition is free, but still needs install and nurturing. Because now I need to export my source to be able to use the same project files, or maybe create some elaborate sharing scheme between the dev-box and the VPC… Sigh… This whole process really starts annoying me. I need to have a duplicate WinXP and development setup just to test my sites in IE6?

    And, what about those of us who also must support IE5.5 and IE5. Heck, I know there are people who even have to support IE 4.01! What about them?

    There are people who (unofficially) has indeed been able to create a standalone package for IE3,4,5,5.5 and 6. This makes me wonder why Microsoft ignores the developers’ needs? With MS’s resources I can’t believe it is such a big problem to create standalone versions of IE. I have hesitated using the "unofficial" solution, but I now feel almost forced too. Yes, the unofficial solution isn’t perfect (although as far as I know, only cookies seems to still be a problem with the standalone IE6 version). But – really, VPC with it’s additional setup is far from a perfect solution too!

  14. IEBlog says:

    Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment. As Chris Wilson blogged

  15. MissRed48 says:

    Since downloading IE7 update I keep getting a message after my games start to freeze up that I am out of memory and it will either freeze or close all open windows and I must reboot. I was having no problems with previous version. How do I get my old version back?

  16. Brian is writing on his blog that Microsoft offers a free Windows XP including Internet Explorer 6 as

  17. Robbie Wareham says:

    I am right in assuming that I can’s install IE7 on the Virtual PC?  I really need IE6 to be on my main machine and IE7 on the VPC. However, when upgrading to IE7 on the VPC, it complains that it is not a genuine version of Windows.

    Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  18. Andrew says:

    I seriously don’t believe this!

    The only reason these people want two versions of IE on their computer is so they can compensate for the mistakes of one [or both] of them! Web developers and designers everywhere are sick of IE and it’s non-compliance, but need to design around it because it seems to be the most widely used browser.

    So you want us to install another microsoft product on our computer so we can iron out the faults in the first one??


  19. The same problems have existed since MS started writing software.  Continue patching bad software and releasing it as ‘updated’ and ‘upgraded’.  The problem is, we continue to buy it.  

    Switch to linux, or quit complaining.  Do something, or expect the same crappy software from here on in.  Open source is the only way to go.  Let the users develop/test the software, let the oem ppl make it better, everyone is happy.  Novell is on the rise, look at RedHat, it’s making huge leaps.  MS market share is at it’s lowest since it’s inception, and dwindling by the day.

    If anyone fed up with the BS that MS is selling, just research for 1 day, how easy it is to switch to Linux, running OpenOffice and Firefox, they’ll never go back.

    For beginners, go with Ubuntu

    Novices, RedHat or SuSe 10.1

    Experts, gentoo or debian

  20. Многие спрашивают, как обеспечить работу обозревателей IE6 и IE7 в одной системе. Как уже писал Крис…

  21. ... says:

    Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!

  22. ... says:

    9 su 10! Ottenerlo! Siete buoni!

  23. Warren Tiedetke says:

    Ploeaseinroll me!


  24. IEBlog : IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment. As Chris Wilson blogged about early this year, it&#8217;s unfortunately not so easy…

  25. opensource says:

    i will try it, bau i have problems 🙁

  26. NBA says:

    Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  27. bilgi yarışması says:

    IEBlog : IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment.

  28. coydecoy says:

    No problem.  This is the solution for testers.

  29. Hi Chris: Can you tell me if it is possible to run both Safari or Firefox on the same machine as IE 6?

    Any assistance you could provide would be much appreciated.


    Lisa Kilpatrick


  30. Medyum says:

    IEBlog : IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment.

  31. Medyum says:

    Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

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  33. Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  34. radyo dinle says:

    Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  35. IEBlog : IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment.

  36. Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  37. Thanks for that.

    Genel forum,metin2 kaybolan yillar…

  38. Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

  39. hakan bey says:

    Ben sağ ben Virtual PC IE7 yükleyebilirsiniz’s varsayımıyla mı? Gerçekten benim ana makine ve IE7 Doğum VPC olmak için IE6 gerekir. Ancak, IE7 için VPC üzerinde yükseltmek, bunun Windows’un orijinal bir sürüm değilse şikayet ediyor.

    Ben ana makine ve IE6 VPC üzerindeki IE7 kullanarak takılıp muyum?

  40. Frmclub says:

    thanks for this great article!

  41. gitar dersi says:

    Am I stuck using IE7 on the main machine and IE6 on the VPC?

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