For some time now, Microsoft has made available free, stripped-down, time-limited Virtual PC images for testing web apps in older versions of IE. The most recent version is here:

But the XP VPC image has now expired (as of 27th July 2012), meaning one can no longer test IE 6 using this method.

  1. Have Microsoft made updated XP VPC images available?
  2. If not, have they commented on the situation?
  3. Do they provide any alternative method to test web apps in IE 6?
  4. Is there any way to hack the images to get them working again for browser testing?

Update: Microsoft has now launched modern.ie, a website dedicated to testing web pages in Internet Explorer, which includes free virtual PC images. See my answer below

  • Windows_XP_IE6.exe is available at bottom – metal-gear-solid Sep 7 '11 at 17:12
  • @metal-gear-solid: yup — when I asked the question, the IE 6 image linked to then had expired. They’ve now updated the page. – Paul D. Waite Sep 7 '11 at 17:40
  • Nov 17th has now come and gone days ago, time for another update? How did anyone get in touch with them last time? – user11500 Nov 20 '11 at 19:38
  • @CBP: we didn’t get in touch with them, they just posted updated images on 16th Aug. – Paul D. Waite Nov 21 '11 at 7:52
  • @CBP: for some reason, my images think they don’t expire for another 2 days (which is great), but Microsoft hasn’t yet (as of 22nd Nov) updated their page (which is not so great). – Paul D. Waite Nov 22 '11 at 17:54

MS keeps updating the list of Windows Virtual PC VHDs of different Internet Explorer versions so they MAY provide it during their next update cycle.

There are multiple options to test web apps in IE6. Check this Smashing Mag review of free & commercial tools for cross-browser testing to find out which will fit your need best.

Update [26/Feb/13]: IE VMs for non-Windows developers

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    They have updated the list in the past, but they don’t seem to have done so this time, even though the old XP image has expired. Any idea when their next update cycle is? – Paul D. Waite Aug 15 '11 at 18:11
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    Microsoft has now posted a new image usable until November 17, 2011. – PleaseStand Aug 16 '11 at 20:25
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    @PleaseStand: hallezunejah! – Paul D. Waite Aug 16 '11 at 21:30

The free IETester application allows you to test IE10 preview, IE9, IE8, IE7 IE 6 and IE5.5 on Windows 7, Vista and XP, and requires no installation of separate virtual images. I've been using it for several years for IE tests without issue.

I don't know of an 'official' alternative from Microsoft, but it's possible that they'll be dropping support for the IE6 XP image, given that they're actively trying to discourage use of the browser in general: http://www.ie6countdown.com/

  • This tool is really a must have. It can access different versions of the IE COM-objects, and therefore the pages are actually rendered with the chosen IE. – martinstoeckli Aug 14 '11 at 19:09
  • Re Microsoft trying to discourage IE6, they can do that by stopping support for it. Until then, developers are stuck supporting it too. Good shout for IETester though, worth a try — have you ever had to resort to a real IE installation? – Paul D. Waite Aug 14 '11 at 21:36
  • @Paul I'm Mac-based, but I've always had a licensed copy of Windows running in Parallels Desktop/VMWare Fusion; that means I'm lucky because I've a) never had to set up multiple virtual images just to do a browser test and b) always had the latest version of IE running 'natively'. If Microsoft discontinue support for the IE6 image, it will mean that there's no longer a free way to test IE6, which will be a bane to many, and yet another excuse for some not to test it at all. – Nick Aug 15 '11 at 13:23
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    IETester’s pretty good so far, except the print and print preview functionality doesn’t work for me, which is a bit of a deal-breaker. – Paul D. Waite Aug 16 '11 at 21:29
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    @Paul Unfortunately this looks like a known bug with no known fix at present. Worth keeping an eye on the forums, but I've no magic fix to offer otherwise, I'm afraid. – Nick Aug 16 '11 at 21:41

Microsoft has now launched modern.ie, a website dedicated to testing web pages in Internet Explorer.

It includes downloads of virtual machines for testing (although not currently for IE 6):


Since others have offered an alternative I thought I would suggest Spoon.net, it allows you to emulate / virtualize a number of browsers without having to install them

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