Friday, October 20th, 2006

IE At Virtual Arms Length

Category: Articles, IE

Alex Russell ran into someone who didn’t test IE at an IE launch party?

In IE At Arms Length Alex talks about how he takes responsibility for testing the various versions of IE, even from a Mac.

The Basics

  1. A high-end mac laptop, stuffed to the gills with RAM and a fast HD
  2. An external storage device of some sort. In my case, that’s a samba server with a half terabyte of fas RAID storage on switched gigabit ethernet
  3. Windows licenses. I use both Win2K and XP. I recommend older if you can get it, just because the older the Windows version, the less ram it’ll soak up
  4. Virtualization software. These days I’m using Parallels, but previously I’ve used both VirtualPC and VMWare
  5. The Environment

    Here’s how I set up my environment:

    • Create a new VM. In it, install/register/jump-through-MS-hoops for the baseline version of all of the OSes you’re going to be using. Don’t even think of running windows update yet.
    • Configure the VM to use the right local networking setup
    • In this new VM, install the Microsoft Script Editor, Ethereal, Drip, the MS web developer toolbar and whatever other baseline debugging tools you use everywhere for IE
    • Shut down this VM and copy it off to your mass storage device. Give it a name like “XP_baseline”
    • For each OS Service Pack, do much the same thing. Install the service pack (avoiding browser upgrades if possible), shut the VM down, and pickle it off to cold storage
    • Once you’ve got a VM with a pristine version of the last OS service pack, start doing the same thing, but with major browser revs. If you can’t find an installer for a particular IE rev, try the Evolt Browser Archive.
    • At the end of the last step, you should have a “mostly” up-to-date version of both OS and browser. Once you’ve got a copy of that in cold storage, only then should you run Windows Update. Mmmm…watch that VM reboot!
    • This is now your “working VM”. Keep it up to date as MS releases patches and such. For each new major browser rev, do NOT use this as your baseline. Instead, pull your last major browser/OS rev snapshot out of cold storage, copy it, upgrade the copy, and put that back in the drawer

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:09 am

3.8 rating from 11 votes


Comments feed TrackBack URI

Alex, This may simplify things a bit

How to run IE V7 RC1 in standalone mode.

How to install multiple version of IE ( IE3 IE4.01 IE5 IE5.5 and IE6 )

Comment by Scott — October 20, 2006

Scott, you missed the point: it’s not enough to run multiple versions of IE in the same OS, since a lot of the functionality in IE is based on standalone COM+ objects. How would you, for instance, test against different versions of the MSXML component with that setup (bearing in mind that that’s where XMLHTTP actually lives)?

Comment by Tom Trenka — October 20, 2006

The suggestion isn’t perfect and does have it’s inherent problems but for the most part it should work as the installations are in separate directories containing the required DLL’s. The individual browser version work due to DLL redirection which was introduced with Win 2000.

For reference: IE4 had the first version of the MSXML Parser (1.0). IE5 had the next version (2.0). From then until Version 3.0 you had to have IE5 to install those MSXML versions. From MSXML 3.0 forward the license doesn’t require IE5 for installation.

Comment by Scott — October 20, 2006

I just found out about tredosoft’s IE3-6 standalone installer when i needed to get the official IE7 installed.
Tredosoft’s installer also makes them all work with conditional comments.

Comment by Thomas Aylott — October 23, 2006

Ethereal was renamed to Wireshark ( in May 2006.

Comment by Gerald Combs — August 6, 2007

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.