By now, I hope you’ve heard of the newest project we launched at Microsoft called modern.IE. I’m not going to go into every aspect of the site as I really want to focus on the VMs for this post. But if you want the details you can check out these great blog posts:
modern.IE – A new set of tools to help test web site compatibility
Introducing modern.IE – Testing sites for Internet Explorer made easier
The New Way to get IE VMs
Up until now, if you wanted to test different versions of IE natively you had to download VPC images that would allow you to run virtual machines for the different versions of IE. It wasn’t a great solution because:
- They were designed to be run in Microsoft’s Virtual PC software making it hard for non-Windows developers to use them.
- They were broken apart into multiple, large download files
There were ways to use them on other OSes but it required some work or unofficial scripts to convert them. Either way, the IE VPCs weren’t very easy or convenient to use.
We wanted to make this easier so as part of the modern.IE project, we created a new set of VMs that targeted your OS and your VM-specific software. Now, you’ll be able to choose your OS:
then choose the VM software:
and download the VM with the version(s) of IE you’d like to install:
The great thing about this process is that:
- You only have to download a single file per VM
- You can use the VM software of your choice
Currently, we’re offering VMs that will run on:
The VM software choices are specific to the OS you choose:
- Windows – Hyper-V, Virtual PC, VirtualBox & VMWare Player
- OSX- VirtualBox & VMWare Fusion
- Linux – VirtualBox
The IE versions being offered are:
- IE7 on Vista
- IE8 on Windows 7
- IE9 on Windows 7
- IE10 on Windows 8
We initially launched with an IE6 image but discovered an issue and had to pull it down. We’ll be putting it back up shortly. We’ll also be supporting Parallels as well and that will be available soon.
Time Limits on the VMs
All of the VMs have a time limit before the images will become either limited or unusable. Here’s what they are:
- IE7 – IE10: 90 days of total time from the moment you first use the VM. Basically it’s 30 days usage with two 30-day rearms.
- To rearm, go into a command prompt and type in “slmgr –rearm“
- IE6 on WinXP: Will expire 90 days from the time we upload it to modern.IE. There’s no rearm it but we’ll keep this refreshed when the 90 day kill date nears.
At the end of the 90 days, here’s what will happen:
- IE7 – IE10: You’ll be able to use the VM for an hour before it shuts down
- IE6/WinXP: You’ll be prompted for an activation key with no way to get past it
I’ve been told that these images aren’t crippled and in my testing, I was able to apply updates and do installs with no issues. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you run Windows updates when you use these VMs to get the latest updates and patches. Also, install an anti-virus software. Microsoft Security Essentials is free and will do the trick.
Installing the VMs
The VMs may come with some minimum resource settings already preconfigured. Here’s what I recommend to ensure you get a decent performing VM:
- Give your VM a minimum of 1GB of RAM
- Give it the most amount of video memory possible
Remember that you’re VM is an OS and it needs resources. Unless you’re loading multiple VMs at the same time, a gig of RAM shouldn’t have a major adverse issue on a decent system. Also note that while IE9 & IE10 support GPU-enhanced rendering, don’t expect the same performance in your VM as you would get from a native system.
The VMs you download are in .zip format. Once you’ve got them on your computer, you should unzip them for use. Note that I’ve seen a quirk with OSX where the default unzip utility actually tries to create another .zip file instead of unzipping it. I used The Unarchiver app from the OSX App Store and that worked like a charm.
Since I’m on Windows, I think showing how to install it on another OS would be valuable. The VM software I use on OSX is VMWare Fusion so here are the steps I went through to setup the Win8/IE10 VM:
Click on the “Add” drop down to create a new VM:
Choose “Continue without disc”:
This should present you with a screen to “Use an existing virtual disk” which is exactly what you want to do:
I chose the “Select to create a copy of it” so that my original download isn’t affected and it makes a copy in the default VMWare VM directory. When you select the image, it will display a prompt asking if you want to convert it to an updated format:
Don’t convert it. I tried to and it seemed to corrupt the VM.
Select the proper version of Windows. These are 32 bit versions of the OS so the standard OS selections are fine (i.e.: not 64-bit). At the “Finish” screen, click “Customize Settings” to give the VM a better name like “Win8 – IE10″ and from there, VMWare will beging the process of copying the disc to the default VM directory and present you with the new VM:
Before you start the new VM, change the RAM settings so your VM won’t have any trouble starting up. Again, I recommend a minimum of 1GB of RAM:
Your VM should now be ready to use.
REALLY IMPORTANT: If you’re using the Win8/IE10 VM, be sure to set your screen resolution in the VM to a minimum of 1366×768 if you want to be able to use Internet Explorer for Windows 8. Internet Explorer desktop can launch in smaller resolutions but IE10 for Win8 is a Windows 8 app and needs the higher resolution. You’ll also want this for testing snap mode.
I don’t have VirtualBox installed at the moment so I’ll do an update to this post soon to show how to install it there. But if you’re savvy with the software, it should be as easy as the steps I described above.
In the interim, Chris Wharton has written up a quick guide on how to get the Virtualbox VMs running on OSX.
Unzipping the VM and Corrupt Images
A number of people have mentioned that they’ve had trouble unzipping the images and that they may be corrupt. They’re not corrupt. There’s an issue in both OSX & Linux where using the OS’s default zip tool is failing to open the .zip file properly. We’re aware of this and are looking into it. The interim solution is to use a 3rd party unzip tool like “The Unarchiver” in the Apple app store or Peazip for Linux. These will correctly unzip the .zip files and give you working images.