There may be reasons, you may want to run multiple or different versions of the Windows Internet Explorer web browser on your Windows operating system. You may need to do so, to test how a website looks in the different IE versions, or you may be a web developer or you may want to check how a newer IE version performs on your system, before you decide to upgrade it, in an enterprise environment. Sure, one can use F12, but still, there are many who have this preference.
Run multiple versions of Internet Explorer
In any case, if you need to run multiple versions of IE, here are a few options available to you.
1] Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Compatibility Test Tool is a part of the Application Compatibility Toolkit. It contains the necessary tools and documentation to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows Internet Explorer in your environment.
2] You can run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one PC using Windows XP Mode. The Windows XP Mode lets you run older software right on your Windows 7 desktop. However, as of April 8, 2014, technical support for Windows XP Mode is no longer available. Thus if you do decide to use Windows XP Mode on a Windows 7 PC after support ends, your PC might become more vulnerable to security risks.
3] Microsoft has released a white paper titled Solutions for Virtualizing Internet Explorer. It provides information to help you select the Internet Explorer virtualization alternative that is appropriate for your organization. It links to resources describing solutions for virtualizing Internet Explorer.
4] Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image lets you use Windows Virtual PC VHDs for testing websites with different Internet Explorer versions.
5] Utilu IE Collection contains multiple stand-alone versions of Internet Explorer, which can be used at the same time. It supports Windows 98 to Windows 8.1 – but currently supports only Internet Explorer 1.0 to Internet Explorer 8.0. More on this here.
Does Microsoft support running multiple IE versions?
Running multiple versions of Windows Internet Explorer, or portions of Windows Internet Explorer, on a single instance of Windows is an unlicensed and unsupported solution. We strongly discourage using any solution or service (hosted or on-premises) that repackages the executable components of Internet Explorer, or portions of those components, into a separate installation. If you try to reconfigure Windows so that it runs multiple versions of Internet Explorer from these kinds of packages on a single instance of Windows, your configuration will not be supported by Microsoft Customer Support Services, states KB2020599.
This means that only one instance of Internet Explorer is supported per operating system. However, Microsoft does support solutions that enable virtualized use of multiple versions of Internet Explorer through a separate operating system installation. It also supports solutions that try to incorporate application-level virtualization to run multiple repackaged versions of Internet Explorer on a single operating system instance.
This post takes a look at how to run multiple instances of applications in Windows.