Test Your Web Site Using Multiple Web Browsers

So, I routinely need to test the web sites I create in both IE7 and IE6.  I wouldn’t care so much about IE6 if it weren’t for the fact that some people will never be able to upgrade to IE7 without upgrading there operating system and there are a few who won’t be able to even upgrade their OS without buying a new computer.  So, that leaves us with a significant number of users who are still using IE6 for the foreseeable future.

At this point, you should be developing all of your web sites for the latest and greatest browsers.  Those would be IE7 and FireFox 2.0.  If you aren’t, drop what you are doing and upgrade now.  So, the main question remains, how do you test for IE6 once you’ve installed IE7.

Easy, you install Virtual PC, free from Microsoft.  You then install Windows 2000 on a virtual PC and then perform the Windows Upgrade until you have all the required updates and IE6 installed.

Once you’ve done that you can access the host computer’s web server either by using the ip address or by using the host computer’s computer name.  ie, http://localhost/appname would become http://hostname/appname

If you are running Vista or another OS with a firewall you may need to explicitly enable incoming connections on port 80/http request before this will work for you.  But, it does work.

I recently had the need to access the virtual PC’s web server from my host computer and that worked too.

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  • http://www.top-work-from-home.com Top Work From Home

    Good tip – I often forget to do this and when I get around to using a different browser I find that it looks very different than what I thought.


  • Leo

    Quote: “Easy, you install Virtual PC, free from Microsoft. You then install Windows 2000 on a virtual PC and then perform the Windows Upgrade until you have all the required updates and IE6 installed.”


    Have you heard of MultipleIEs? http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

    A lot easier IMHO ;-)

  • Dave

    Yes Leo, I’m familiar with the DLL Hell workaround. However, I’ve done enough programming to know that anytime I work with a hack (aka workaround) I’m not working in the true environment. Therefore, you can never be sure if the problem you are seeing is because of the hack or because of the version of the browser you are running.

    By using Virtual PC, you are working in an isolated environment. There is no question that what you are seeing is what others using a similar browser will see.

    As for easy, our definitions of easy must be different. Mine is that no matter how long it takes, it works right every time I do it. Your definition must have something to do with how long the process takes.

  • Alice

    I’m so glad to find out about Virtual PC.
    It’s very easy to forget to test your websites in different browsers but it is so important to your viewers.

  • Leo

    yes, looks like our definitions of easy do differ. I’ve been working with VMs a lot and while they do have their advantages I find them cumbersome to handle. They take a lot of space and are a pain to backup. And probably you need an extra license for the VM’s OS. Nevertheless, if you want a really clean solution they’re probably your best choice.
    Also I’d like to point out that MultipleIE isn’t exactly a hack or a workaround. Rather it uses the “DLL hell workaround” technique. Still it has some issues, so I can understand your point.
    Regards, Leo

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