Testing IE6 on Vista Using Virtual PC

If you’re a web developer you may need to test on IE6, Firefox and IE7 while running Vista. The last two are easy the first one is a little trickier. Here are the steps needed:

  1. Download Virtual PC 2004
  2. Download the Internet Explorer 6 Testing VPC Image
  3. Unzip and setup everything and launch Virtual PC.
  4. Create a new virtual machine for Windows XP, click next, name your virtual PC image and then continue to add the “Hard Drive Image” you downloaded in step 2.
  5. Run the image and get the basics working. You’ll now notice that XP has no memory and can’t get on the network.
  6. To increase the paging file you have to right click on My computer, go to properties, advanced, performance, settings, advanced and set the virtual memory using the change button.
  7. If you get a firewall dialog box make sure you allow access.
  8. To get the VPC on the network you need to open up internet explorer and go to the options tab. Then go to connections tab and select LAN settings. Here you will need to uncheck the Proxy Server checkbox. ITGProxy is the internal proxy that needs to be used within Microsoft internally. It’s clear that this was never tested outside of Microsoft as this setting should never have been set. This drove me crazy for about an hour as I checked all sorts of settings. Hopefully this tip can save you some headaches.

The entire procedure is rather a pain to test for a browser. You have to download a half a gig of software just to test compatibility. In theory it should be possible to run IE6 side by side with IE7 (I do this on XP using a great program called Multiple IE’s) but for whatever reason it doesn’t work on Vista. One step forward two steps back.

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10 thoughts on “Testing IE6 on Vista Using Virtual PC”

  1. I’ve been using this setup for about 12 months now, or enough to run through two of the 6-month licenses for the images (yup, that MS for you). I prefer them over the Multiple IE solution since those stand-alone IE’s don’t handle Conditional Comments well.

    And in case you happen to just love IE 6 and want to use it as your default browser, you can get the PC image with IE 7 instead.

    Thanks for the tip on the networking bit. I recently had my PC re-imaged and couldn’t figure out how to get that working again!

  2. Thanks very much for the tips. I would have never found that IE was configured to go through that proxy.

  3. Thanks. I got as far as #6, but when I tried I couldn’t change the virtual memory. After clicking “change” do I clicked “custom size” (was that the right thing to do?) and I tried the values 2000MB and 3000MB for initial and max sizes, but my changes didn’t seem to apply after clicking “okay” and restarting. It’s as if it didn’t recognize my change at all. Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  4. Searls – There should be an option to allow the system to manage memory automatically. This option may have been turned option off so he packaged image would be smaller. This page may also help you with step 6: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308417

  5. Thanks, I got in. Sincerely appreciate it.

  6. Thanks so much. Couldn’t work out how to network. Now I use ie6 again! Joy of joys.

  7. As a web designer and developer, I can’t live without my virtual pc setup. I also have a copy of Ubuntu linux with virtual pc. It is so great to be able to boot into WinXP so quickly.

  8. I’m not sure if it works in Vista (though I would imagine it does) but this site might come in handy for running older versions of IE, without the need for a VM:


  9. Why go so complicated if there is some easiest way? Leave that one and search in google for IETester. download and test straight all ie Versions from 5 to 9 without doing any settings. Works in Vista…

  10. @jack
    If you dive into this topic you will see that IE is so intertwined with windows that it is not realistic to assume IE6-imitators show the same css and other problems as the genuine IE6. Has to do with dll’s.

    With a huge user base and a complex website you will certainly run into users using IE6 who find bugs that you missed because you used an emulator.

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