IE6 Working

It seems that there’s two main reasons why people still need good ol’ IE6 running even though they’ve gone all new fangled and got Vista installed:

  1. Some old Intranet programs just refuse to work with ie7 or Firefox. Some don’t even try and fail as soon as they see the browser isn’t ie6, others try and fail miserably because of code targeting ie6 specifically.
  2. You’re a developer, and as a large number of your users still use IE6 (mainly because of the reason above) you need to test that your website or application works for them.

The good news is that Microsoft is well aware of the need for Vista users to be able to use IE6, and they’ve made some tools available to the publci for free. all it’ll cost you is a bit of time…

First things first – Download.

The solution is a bit of a sideways step around the problem. Instead of running IE6 on Vista, you run a virtual XP machine on Vista, and then put IE6 on that instead.

So the first thing you need to do is download and install the free Virtual PC software form Microsoft:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=04d26402-3199-48a3-afa2-2dc0b40a73b6&displaylang=en

I’m not going to take you through how to install Virtual PC on your mahcine – you’re on your own for that for now (at some point I’ll write this up)…

Download the IE6 VHD file

Rather than you having to manually create your virtual XP machine yourself (which takes some time) the’ve made a bunch of different test environments available to download:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=21eabb90-958f-4b64-b5f1-73d0a413c8ef&displaylang=en#filelist

All you need to download for this is the IE6 XP image, but feel free to take a look at some of the others, as if you’re a developer they may well come in useful to you – there’s even an image for IE8.

Second things second – The agreements.

Once the file has been downloaded open it and you’ll get the usual Microsoft prompts warning you about

Security warning

running files – Choose to run the file (It’s from Microsoft, surely we can trust them – can’t we?!?!!).

Then you’ll be given a warning about the expiry date of the VHD file. Microsoft time limit these images to stop people using them as their main OS. Agree to uncompress the file (click yes).

Now you get the normal License Agreement from Microsoft asking you to sell your soul to the Devil and give up all rights to your first-born child. Again agree

to this – Hell can’t be that bad can it?

VHD extracting

You’ll be asked where you want to extract the files to. This is entirely up to you – I use the downloads area of Vista to keep all temporary files, and then once a month or so I go through this folder and get rid of all the rubbish and stuff I’m finished with. But, as I said it’s up to you. Once you’ve chosen the location to extract to there will be a long wait while they’re extracted. Get yourself a cup of tea at this point (or any other hot beverage of your choice).

Some magic with the Wizard.

Once it’s extracted (and you’ve finished your tea) fire up Virtual PC and follow through the steps below:

Click Next on the Welcome screen:

Welcome to the VPC wizard

Choose the option to Create a virtual machine:

VPC options

Give your virtual machine a name – in this case I named mine “IE6 Environment”:

Virtual PC name

Select Windows XP from the operating systems list:

Select operating system

The Wizard will suggest an amount of Ram to use for your Virtual PC. Unless you have a specific need to change this setting just leave it as it is and click Next:

Recommended ram size

Finally we get to the option to use the ready-made VHD file we downloaded earlier. Choose “An existing virtual hard disk” from the options and click Next:

New or existing VHD

Browse to the location of the extracted VHD file, select it, and then click next:

VHD Location

You’ll be shown confirmation of the settings you chose – make sure everything looks okay and click Finish:

VPC wizard finished

Fire it up!

Windows XP booting

Ok, we’re almost there. You should now be looking at the Virtual PC console window with our newly installed Virtual PC showing in it.

Select the Virtual PC and click Start. You should now see Windows XP start to spring into life. It works just like any other Windows XP machine, so it’ll boot up and go through the normal motions for a few seconds/minutes/hours first (depending on the speed of your pc). Let it run through this as normal.

Take a moment to bask in the glory of running Windows XP inside a window on your lovely Vista machine (don’t spend too long on this).

Last couple of steps

VPC Eula

We’re really just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s now. Once XP has booted it’ll ask you once again to agree to a EULA from Microsoft. As you’ve already sold your soul etc. there’s not really much more they can take so just close the window that appears.

Finally we’re into Windows XP and ready to fire up Internet Explorer 6 and get on with our work.

Double click on the IE6 icon on the desktop and wait the few moments for IE6 to boot. That’s it you can now browse to your hearts content in the antiquated and troubled browser that is IE6.

As a side not it seems Microsoft are really trying to

IE6 Working

help Web developers with these images and they’ve included a couple of links on the desktop to help you out. If you’re a developer it may be worth taking a look at them, if you’re not and you just want to use IE6 to get on with your work then ignore them.

Problems?

Whenever I set up virtual machines in our network environment I get page cannot be displayed on any internally hosted sites that rely on local DNS entries. We get around this by entering each of the sites into the Virtual PC hosts file. At some point I’ll write instructions on how to do this…

But for now that’s it. Any comments, corrections, or questions are appreciated…