Multiple versions of IE on Win2k/XP

Joe Maddalone, with a little help from Roger Ly, has made quite a contribution to Win2k/XP-using web developers by discovering how to install two older versions of Internet Explorer (5.01 & 5.5) as standalone browsers without altering IE6.0. Particularly, this allows developers to test CSS rendering in these older browsers without installing multiple version of Windows in emulators like VMWare ($300) or Virtual PC.

Roger discovered the last two files needed to truly enable the older HTML/CSS rendering engines (without these the browsers were returning their respective user agent strings, but using IE6’s renderer).

A few helpful additions to Joe’s technique

  • The source installation files are available from http://browsers.evolt.org/: Download IE5.5 and 5.01 (both SP2)
  • I recommend using Power Archiver 6.1 for nag-free archive handling comparable to (and very similar to) WinZip’s “classic mode”.
  • Extract the .CAB files all into the same directory—certain files depend on more than one .CAB file.
  • During extraction it’s OK to let the extractor "overwrite all files".
  • It may turn out that many of the other files are unnecessary as well. We have them running with only eleven, but certain functionality—like the ability to selecting text and type in forms—is disabled).

The resulting browsers, as you’d expect, can be quite buggy/crashy beyond their inherent CSS limitations, but arguably still quite useful. Also keep in mind that this could be considered mild Windows hacking and Microsoft could potentially refuse to support an installation with such files present (although there’s no overwriting of OS files involved). In short, be careful. For everyone’s convenience, I hope evolt.org will consider hosting .ZIPs of the resulting files, as surely everyone would rather download/serve a subset of the 80MB.

One thought on “Multiple versions of IE on Win2k/XP

  1. says:

    Maybe is solution also a virtual machine. You can try not only x versions of one browser, but also another OS.

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