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How web designers can test websites in IE9 on Windows XP

I’m a diehard Windows XP user and have no desire to upgrade to Vista or Windows 7. But this presents a problem now that Internet Explorer 9 has been officially released and in their (endless lack of) wisdom, Microsoft has decided not to allow it to run on Windows XP, to try to get people like me to upgrade.

So here’s how you can test your web designs on IE9 and make sure that everything is okay.

(the #1 problem I have found is that IE9 does NOT like or deal well with special IE6 fixes that are left over that were either ignored or did no harm in IE7 or IE8 – I will give you a solution for that following this)

First downloaded the free and legal Microsoft Windows 7 enterprise trial ISO (2.2GB) x86fre_enterprise_en-us_EVAL_Eval_Enterprise-GRMCENEVAL_EN_DVD.iso
(you only need the 32bit version, it will run faster, if it won’t download it’s because of the refer, copy the link and paste it directly in your browser – download is speed limited so it will take at least 20 minutes)

Next install the free VMWare Player into Windows XP
( or you might actually need version 3+ for windows 7)

Last, use one of the free vmx generator tools to make a configuration for VMplayer ready for Windows 7 and set the Windows7 ISO as the CD drive
(choose Vista, not Vista 64 – also, Windows7 needs a TON of space so choose 12GB at a minimum, I did 8GB and it’s already maxed out with nothing else installed – the file starts off small but will grow as needed)

Edit the vmx file and add these lines (removing any existing ide1:0 lines)

ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-image"
ide1:0.fileName = "7600.16385.090713-1255_x86fre_enterprise_en-us_EVAL_Eval_Enterprise-GRMCENEVAL_EN_DVD.iso"

It should take 30 minutes to do all this, except maybe the ISO download which is huge and takes quite awhile.

The great thing about the enterprise trial is it lasts for 60 days, then you can “rearm” (google it) for a couple more times, but even when it’s expired, you can use it for an hour before auto-shutdown which is plenty of time to test pages in IE9

Okay now I promised a trick to help deal with IE9 – here’s my solution:

Most javascript that detects IE doesn’t detect the version, just if it’s IE or not. For example: isIE=/blah/; What we really need is something to replace that which is short and sweet and accurate.

So here’s what I came up with:

isIE=window.opera?0:parseInt((navigator.userAgent.match(/MSIE (\d+)/) || [0,0])[1]);

Then just replace any instance of

if (isIE) {blah}

With this:

if (isIE && isIE<9) {blah}

Hope that helps!

7 responses

  1. Oh man. Why would you not want to upgrade to 7?

    Windows 7 to me is the first sign of a cutting edge project manager in the ranks of Microsoft’s operate system department. I’ve stayed impressed. Is it something custom you have going or something you like better?

    March 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  2. Thanks for your solutions!

    I hope time will bring some easier solutions to test IE9 (on XP).
    Maybe browsershots or IEtester will find a way too.
    Or maybe some bootable solution on CD /DVD/ USB…

    I love XP too, although win2000 was even more light-weight 🙂

    March 24, 2011 at 4:34 am

  3. Graham

    If you click on those image links it just redirects back to the homepage. If you make them a shortcut or bookmark (no referrer?) then they work

    April 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

  4. ray

    Hi, How do you test the html file on vmware?

    July 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    • Ray you have to install the iso into the vmware, I just added the more specific lines you have to edit the vmx file.

      September 2, 2011 at 4:16 am

  5. Fantastic instructions, they worked great for me! I did have to put 1 GB in for my RAM, but after that minor hiccup, it worked perfectly. Thanks for taking the time to share this info!

    September 11, 2011 at 11:23 pm

  6. Anonymous

    Talk about a massive amount of work for nothing! Use browser labs and be done…pfftt!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:02 am

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