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A friend told me that Microsoft issued an XP version that works on USB. It's minified and already has a browser included.

In fact I doubted that!, Because he told me that it was Free of Charge and that just doesn't make sense to me. Anyway that's why I came to ask you guys.

The reason I badly want that, is to use it to test my website cross-browsers. I know it's a good Idea to buy a Windows License and install it on a Virtual Machine (like VirtualBox) but I feel like I don't have to buy a full license just to open a browser!


  • I'm using Ubuntu 9.04 as my desktop at the work, it's cool with me but because theres is no IE7, IE8 on it! And all the clients wants a cross-browser compatibility.
  • I tried to install these Images on my VirtualBox, but it just didn't work saying "Hardware changed, ... re-activate this version again. Any idea to make this work under VirtualBox/Ubuntu it's highly appreciated.

Edit: is not an ideal solution since I want to my test way beyond only CSS, HTML. Since I build complete websites and Javascript enabled width Ajax and stuff like that so I need a Real Browser to interact with :(.

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Unfortunately, It's more likely that I buy a Windows License, and Install it on VirtualBox instead of using Microsoft's images, But still thinking if this worths while and if they will allow me to open 3 copies at the same time! – Omar Dolaimy Nov 3 '09 at 13:24
Updated answer for 2013: – maxwellb Jun 16 '13 at 9:31
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is the successor to the VHD images, and is sanctioned by Microsoft.

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This is the way to go. Sorry it took me more than a year to notice your question :). – Omar Dolaimy Apr 16 '14 at 9:17
Glad you found it useful! – maxwellb Apr 18 '14 at 16:02

The only available legal solution is to download the Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images from Microsoft. They have, available for download, a total of five different images of Windows XP and Vista with different versions of IE preinstalled.

Unfortunately, due to the differences in the hardware virtualised by different programs, it is unlikely that you would be able to load these images in VirtualBox or any other program. The only solution I can really think of is to install Windows in Ubunutu 'directly' using Wine. Check out this article from HowtoForge for more details.

The images are contain an operating system with a version of IE preinstalled, all ready to be used in Microsoft's Virtual PC The available images contain:

  • Windows XP SP3 with IE6 VHD file. Expires January 1, 2010
  • Windows XP SP3 with IE7 VHD file. Expires January 1, 2010
  • Windows XP SP3 with IE8 VHD file. Expires January 1, 2010
  • Vista Image with IE7 VHD file. Expires 120 days after first run.
  • Vista Image with IE8 VHD file. Expires 120 days after first run.

Although the Windows XP images expire on the 1st of 2010, I would imagine that Microsoft would release an updated image with a longer life. As Pär Björklund pointed out, these images have been available since 2006, and have been updated every 6 months or so.

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Looking at the IE blog they've been doing these releases since at least 2006 and refreshing the images every 6 months or so. I'm assuming that the expiration is some sort of anti-piracy thing so people are not encouraged to use the xp images for other stuff than testing IE. Here's one relevant link to the IE blog… – Pär Björklund Nov 3 '09 at 12:21
Thanks for that link. I hadn't realised they have been out for so long. – Josh Hunt Nov 3 '09 at 12:27

Your friend was probably referring to the Application Compatibility VHD Images available from Microsoft.

These are Virtual PC images with the following software installed:

  • Windows XP SP3 with IE6
  • Windows XP SP3 with IE7
  • Windows XP SP3 with IE8
  • Vista with IE7
  • Vista with IE8

Here's a blog post detailing how to run these with Virtual Box.

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Hum, note this part on the blog post: "You are right. Thanks to Microsoft this procedure no longer works with the latest VirtualPC images. When used in VirtualBox Windows complains about significantly changed hardware and refuses to work without activation. I'm really pissed off! I thought I had finally found a legal solution to test my web pages in all these crappy Microsoft browsers. Thanks Microsoft! Thanks for nothing!" – Snark Nov 3 '09 at 12:17
I tried earlier that solution and I was really pissed off since it didn't work! – Omar Dolaimy Nov 3 '09 at 13:18
If this happens, just call the phone number provided and activate it – James Healy Jun 15 '11 at 5:48

If all you're looking to get from XP is IE6 (presumably), then you might want to try some software that contains the rendering engines from IE5.5, IE6, IE7, and IE8.

The software is called IETester, a free download. I know it's a long shot but since it's only a program it might be more convenient than a full-fledged V-PC.

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I too doubt if there's such a thing as an official, free Windows XP for this purpose. However, if it's about cross-browser-testing, you might want to try this website. It renders a site in multiple browsers, free of charge.

Edit: ^ beat me to it ;-)

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Same answer: Sorry it doesn't provide any interaction. Since I want to test my Javascript and Ajax functionality. – Omar Dolaimy Nov 3 '09 at 12:05
Sorry, but Microsoft actually do have an "official, free Windows XP for this purpose". See my answer for more details – Josh Hunt Nov 3 '09 at 12:14

There are the "Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image" images delivered by Microsoft. They're in the VirtualPC disk format, so I do not know if it can be opened as is by a virtualization software on Ubuntu. Maybe it'll have to be converted for VMWare or VirtualBox.

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