Testing in both IE 6 and IE 7

Emil Stenström asks a very important question in his Open letter to the IE Team. With IE 7 now at beta 2 it's really time for web professionals to start testing their work in it. But installing IE 7 replaces IE 6, which means you can't test in IE 6 - currently the most widely used browser - anymore. Considering the huge amounts of CSS related bugs in that browser, this is a serious problem.

Emil wants to know which of the following options is recommended by the IE Team (my comments added):

  • Get another computer. Buying a new computer just for testing a new version of a browser? Yeah right.
  • Install a virtual machine. This is the only viable option the way I see it, and it is how I currently test in IE 7. But you have to pay for it unless you already have Virtual PC or a similar application. And do you need to buy a second copy of Windows if you create two virtual machines even though they never run at the same time?
  • Drop support for IE6. Oh, I'd love to. Maybe in five or six years.
  • Hack IE7 to work standalone. Seems like it's impossible to mention Internet Explorer without also talking about hacking. A hacked, unofficial install that doesn't treat conditional comments properly? I think not.

What the web developer community really needs is an official, free, Microsoft supported way of running IE 6 and IE 7 on the same computer. Not necessarily at the same time, but without installing and reinstalling between launches.

So, dear IE Team, which is it?

Posted on May 8, 2006 in Quicklinks, Browsers