For quite some time, developers have been asking us how to run Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 side by side, and sadly, it’s not possible to it accurately.  There is a work around that a few people have found, but it doesn’t give you a true IE6 vs IE7 comparison. It’s not just a matter of replacing a few files, you’re changing core operating system components.  And when you start doing that, you can get yourself into some potentially dangerous (crashing) situations.  That’s why it’s not a sanctioned way of doing it.

The way we’ve recommended for some time is to download Virtual PC (which is now free), and install Windows XP on it, and run IE6 there, and run IE7 on your main computer.  Setting up a Windows XP box is time consuming, and something I’m sure many of you don’t want to do if you don’t have to. 

To try to make this situation easier, we’re working on creating a pre-built VPC image that you’ll be able to download, and run.  The image will be patched and up to date (as of the date we release it, and we’ll update it fairly often).  The favorites will be filled in for you with several links to web resources, including the IE Blog, and a few other interesting places.

Due to all the issues around licensing, there will be a few restrictions on the image, and what you’re allowed to do with it.  The biggest of those is that the image is time-bombed.  It will only be valid for about 120 days.  After 120 days, it’s not going to work any more, and you’ll have to download a new copy of the image.  We’ve found a few ways to get the size down, and think we can get the image down to about a 600meg download.  We’ll likely also distribute it on CD and DVD at events and other conferences we’re at.

I hope to have more news about this soon, as I think it’s a really important step for developers!

EDIT: changed not to now