Test IE Compatibility with Free Microsoft Windows Virtual Machines

Do you know you can download Microsoft Windows for free totally legally and all courtesy of Microsoft? Microsoft has a website for web developers and software developers where you can download versions of the Windows OS for testing purposes. The OSs come with different versions of Internet Explorer installed.

We can download Windows XP with IE6, IE7 or IE8 all the way up to Windows 8.1 with IE11. Need to try Windows 10? There is a technical preview version of Windows 10 available for free download too.

The downloads are provided as virtual machines that are easily loaded into VirtualBox. The free MS Windows operating systems are timed to expire 90 days after installation but they are fully functional and can be updated via the Microsoft Updates service, though remember to hold back any Internet Explorer updates.

These free Windows downloads are intended for developers and must not be registered with a license key. Microsoft recommends that a VM snapshot be created after a Windows VM has been installed to extend the lifetime of the OS.

I use these Windows environments for testing the Internet Explorer compatibility of the websites I build. This is the best way to test for IE browser compatibility.

Windows download links

The site is called Modern.ie and is provided by Microsoft. This is a legitimate way for web developers, software developers and app developers to test their products with Windows and different versions of Internet Explorer.

Other ways to test web browser compatibility

There are online browser tests. The best ones I know are, in order of preference:

  1. Browser Stack
  2. Browsershots

Browser Stack takes screenshots of a website as automatically browsed with different web browsers. No sign-up necessary but when you do sign up for a free demo account you will be given 60 minutes of live browser testing whereby you can browse websites using remotely hosted versions of different web browsers.

Browsershots is for screenshots only.

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