Seeing double

Two versions of Internet Explorer running on the same computer, at the same time?  Surely not?

When I happened to read the other day that it was possible to run IE6 and IE7 side by side, I felt obliged to explore a little further.  While IE6 is undoubtedly a pile of pants, it’s a sad fact that a significant majority of computers still use it, and as a web designer it is thus important to ensure that web sites work in that profoundly quirky environment.  At the same time, I felt it would be useful to have IE7 installed so that my web sites would be ready and compatible with the new bugs Microsoft has brought in.

When you install IE7 it automatically overwrites the old IE6 (which is a very good thing, as no normal user would want to keep anything to do with old technology).  However, I found a standalone version of IE6 today and in a matter of minutes had it running alongside IE7 without any complaints.  There is no installer, you just unzip the download file and run IE6 straight from there.  I’ve just had my PC concurrently running IE6, IE7, Firefox 2 and Opera, all displaying the same page, each rendering it differently, which was quite interesting.

Now, some of you may be thinking “why on earth would you need four different web browsers?  Isn’t one enough?”  Well, for browsing the internet, yes, one should be plenty.  But having the four most popular browsers all installed at the same time means I can test web sites on all four to make sure they don’t break.  Interestingly, my blog breaks on IE7 worse than any of the others when scaling, even IE6 does a better job, and Opera does it the best.  The comparison is useful, and allows me to refine my html to cope better with such silly browsers.

And it’s quite novel to have IE6 and IE7 both running at the same time.

In other news, I’ve also rediscovered IE7 – as in the javascript library that fixes a load of rubbish in IE6 to make it more standards-compliant.  Now that I’ve got IE6 again, I might try it out…

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