Microsoft makes browser testing easier

I’m a Mac guy, have been full time since 2003. One of the challenges in being a web person is always having to test in Microsoft Internet Explorer, the bane of many a web developer. We have access to PC’s here on campus, obviously, but we can’t recreate every version, operating system and quirk out there.

Services like BrowserLab and IE NetRenderer are OK, but they only give you static images, you can’t interact with the pages or see how things like CSS and JS affect the rendering of the page.

Other than having a PC on my desk, you can go the virtual machine route. I’ve tried this with Parallels and VMWare Fusion, but had mixed results. The other challenge was having the right number of licenses for Windows. We sometimes had them sitting around, sometimes didn’t.

Recently, we had a report of one of our sites behaving strangely in IE. I was at home at the time, on a Mac, and couldn’t test the specific issue. I actually spun up a Microsoft Windows Server at Amazon just to test IE. It was only a few cents to do this, but took forever to wait for the EC2 server to spin up and then I had to spend the time trying to figure out how to connect to it (again, Mac guy here.)

Thankfully, Microsoft has launched a new, easy way for developers to test their sites on different versions of IE and Windows OS version, called Modern.IE. They have released
test versions of IE using Virtual Machines that you download and manage in your own development environment.

As I’m on a Mac, I was curious what they had to offer. They have virtual machine images (VMIs) for Parallels, Fusion and Sun’s free VirtualBox. They have VMIs for versions of IE 6 through 10 and OSes XP through Windows 8. They also offer a Node.js application to do simple compatibility checks.

This isn’t just for Mac users though – they offer images for Windows and Linux users.

Addendum: I guess Adobe’s BrowserLab just recently shut down. ¬†Bummer.

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