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We're purchasing a dell laptop to use specifically for testing websites in old Internet Explorers. Dell lets us choose between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

(I'm a Mac user, so...) As I understand it:

  1. Installing IE9 will allow testing IE7 and IE8 via compatibility mode
  2. IE9 is NOT installable on Windows 8

Assuming #2 is correct, I understand that there's a VM option for installing old IEs on Windows 8, but I'd rather avoid VMs altogether (otherwise, we might as well use VMs on our Macs).

So then, as I see it –– and keeping in mind that this is just a testing machine, not a productivity one –– the best course of action is to get dell to ship the laptop with Windows 7 installed.

Does that sound like a reasonable course of action?

Or, do I have my facts wrong? Like, perhaps:

  1. IE9 is in fact installable on Windows 8(?)
  2. IE10, which is installable on Windows 8 allows emulating IE7 through IE9(?)
  3. It's actually not that painful to use VMs on Windows 8 for this purpose. Honestly this SU post did not convince me.

Any tips and informed opinions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance...

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Karan, teylyn, mpy, gronostaj, AthomSfere Jul 19 '13 at 11:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

why not use the VMs offered by Microsoft for just this purpose? They're free... – MattDMo Jul 10 '13 at 17:03
The only version of IE supported on Windows 8 is IE10. IE10 has the ability to emulate previous versions. IE11 had this feature remvoed because of the FREE Virtual Machines that Microsoft gives away for testing IE compatibility. Its really simple to load those free virtual machines in the VM program of your choice( conversion to specific types of vm files are also easy). Do it once and you will agree. – Ramhound Jul 10 '13 at 19:13
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 or Windows 7 F12 developer tools allows you to select Browswer Mode from IE10 through to IE7.

IE 9 is not installable on Windows 8.

Internet Explorer 11 is already available on Windows 8.1 Preview.

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Cool, thanks for clarifying that IE10 does in fact have compatibility mode all the way back to IE7. This, along with Windows 8, seems like the way to go. – meetamit Jul 10 '13 at 17:30
Yep, IE10 does but IE11 doesn't. – Karan Jul 10 '13 at 17:48
@Karan Thanks for that. I haven't had time to look at 8.1 yet. – David Marshall Jul 10 '13 at 17:54
@meetamit That's OK for limited testing but Windows 8 Pro includes Hyper-v for free and you can test different OS/IE combinations. There are other solutions that avoid you having to manage your own VMs like – David Marshall Jul 10 '13 at 17:58

I'm a big fan of VMWare Fusion on the Mac. It costs US$50, but I prefer it over VirtualBox (which, granted, I haven't used that much). Using the download service on, you can download self-extracting VMWare images for IE6-10 on XP through Win8, in various combinations. Follow the simple instructions on the webpage to extract the images, fire up VMWare, select File->Open... and you're good to go. If you install the VMWare tools (they may already be installed, I don't remember) you can copy and paste between OSX and Windows, share files, etc. It's a perfect solution if all you want to do is browser testing, and aside from the cost of VMWare Fusion it's free, and all of it is legal. Good luck!

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Thanks for the tips; I wasn't aware of the service. We may well settle for this option. But having a dedicated PC test machine without virtualization still seems much better. From my experience, VMs just don't work as smoothly as one would like. They live inside a container. Accessing localhost of the host machine doesn't always work. They slow down the host machine. These little things add up to a bunch of lost of productivity. And this is on top of the fact that the task at hand (supporting legacy browsers) is unpleasant to begin with. YMMV – meetamit Jul 10 '13 at 17:22
YMMV indeed, but I have a 2012 iMac with an i7 and 20G of RAM, so running a VM that's using a few cores and 8G RAM doesn't slow me down much at all. Granted, I generally don't have more than one of the Adobe CS6 programs open, and I do my coding in Sublime Text 2, but I rarely max out my machine, UNLESS I try to have more than one VM open. – MattDMo Jul 10 '13 at 18:18

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