Free IE Virtual Machines

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Microsoft has been working their butts off to repair the image of their flagship browser, Internet Explorer.  They've done so by adhering to standards they previously scoffed at, creating a website with awesome IE-compliant demos, adding useful developer tools, hiring a jQuery guy.  In short:  they've catered to both users and developers.  One further step Microsoft has gone is providing free IE virtual machines for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems -- a dream for any developer looking to easily test their website in Internet Explorer.

You can get the free IE VMs from the Modern IE website.  Choose your OS, virtual machine software, and then the browser and platform you desire:

Free IE Vms

One you download the rar pieces, you'll wan to unpack them to get the built VM:

# brew install unrar, if you dont' have unrar already
unrar e path/to/rar/{}.sfx

For more install instructions, visit Rey Bango's blog. VMs are valid for 90 days at which time you can recreate the VMs or purchase a license.

Well done to Microsoft for providing free Internet Explorer virtual machines to developers.  More developers having easy access to multiple IE's means  more sites properly supporting IE means better user experience for everyone.  Thank you Microsoft!

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  1. Herbut

    But they are time-limited to 90 days! That’s a no-go for me… :-(

  2. Luke

    It is nice of Micro$oft to provide free VMs for developers to use when testing websites or applications, the downside is that these VMs expire after 30-90 days, requiring you to either register them with a Windows License (if you have one handy) or recreate the Virtual Machine to restart the clock (and lose any updates or customisations you may have made within the VM).
    But, the price is right, so who am I to complain?

  3. @Herbut: Why would the 90-day time-limit be a no-go? You download the VM files once and after 90 days, you re-create them using the same files you originally downloaded. The alternative is to purchase full licenses for each so I don’t see why this would be a non-starter for you.

    @Luke: What type of customizations are you making? Would like to know to see how we can improve the VMs.

    • Dave

      the 90-day time-limit is just a PITA. Why is it necessary? If I can just re-create them and keep using them legitimately, then that step should just be taken out of the process. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft turned out inferior products for over a decade and we still have to jump through hoops to support them.

    • If I can just re-create them and keep using them legitimately, then that step should just be taken out of the process.

      In that way every person in the world would have a fully functional Windows VM free of charge. That does not sound like something Microsoft would want, does it?

  4. Braxo

    It is important to mention the 90-day time-limit, didn’t see it in the article.

  5. Ohh sweet! no need to switch between the PC again :D

  6. Wiggins

    They also spontaneously reboot after a period of time, I believe an hour. Let’s face it, some IE problems take longer than an hour to debug/fix and it’d be nice to have some warning.

  7. Be glad you’ve got 90 days, that is more than enough to test your website. If you require more or like to customise things then buy a license, this isn’t an all you can eat buffet.

    Shocked that people even complain about this, people are never ever happy.

  8. When I created my vms I took a snapshot with each browser pointing to my test server. Created a small script to launch each of the vms. Run the tests and shut them down using another script when I was done. It worked really well, I was happy to see MS do something to help test with their browsers.

  9. The key here is that yes, they have a 90 day limit, BUT they are VM’s. That allows alot of flexibility. When creating the VM, make a snapshot after the initial setup of the VM. When the 90 days runs out, revert back to the old snapshot. It seems to me thats actually how microsoft is intending them to be used, too.

  10. Peter

    Providing VMs across different platforms is a nice step for MS. This can really help when sharing QA results. People should also know that MS has been doing this for a while on the PC with VPc. I started using that back 2010

  11. The 90 day expiration is a PITA. You can’t just reuse the files that you downloaded, you must download a new set everytime.

    Hey MS, here’s an idea. A Linux and MAC OS version. What do you mean IE is too tightly coupled with Windows. Did you not attend the 101 class on good design and loose coupling? I see, you did but chose to ignore it because you had a monopoly and loose coupling is irrelevant when you have a monopoly.

    • Ryan

      Ummm, they used to have a Mac version. It was an utter failure and did more to stagger the progress of the web than any browser in history… including IE6. Safari and iTunes are tightly coupled to their OS. You can’t imagine the type of data (income) they gather with this type of coupling… it’s not going away.

  12. @Phunky We don’t need no stinkin’ VMs for any other browser.

  13. Paul

    I love how I can’t pick the virtual machine from Firefox, Chrome, or Safari :\ Getting console errors on

    • I actually noticed that today too. I had no problem doing so yesterday, so probably a new bug.

  14. Pretty awesome tool. Just in time.

  15. Paul

    I already have an IE VM which has a 30 day trial license. Once I installed it, I set up all the tools I needed and took a snapshot in VirtualBox. Every 30 days I am able to revert to the original pristine snapshot just fine. Is that not the case with these VM’s?

  16. Paul

    Might also want to take a look at – which uses those IE VM’s

  17. @Richard Ayotte:

    “The 90 day expiration is a PITA. You can’t just reuse the files that you downloaded, you must download a new set everytime.”

    That’s not correct. You only need to download the VM files once and you can reuse them to rebuild the VMs after 90 days.

  18. @Paul: That’s a bug. We don’t prevent you from downloading VMs on other browsers. I just tested both Chrome and Firefox on both Windows & OSX (Mountain Lion) and was able to get to the VMs. Could you please clear cache and retry? The team may have been pushing an update.

    • MaxArt

      Just downloaded the files using Chrome on Windows 7.
      No problem.

  19. @Paul: One more thing about the IEVMS that you referenced. The author updated his script to pull from modern.IE so for all intents you’re getting the same files. I think he does some additional tweaks though. You can see he mentions it in the Overview section of his Github repo.

  20. Hi David! We’ve also been pretty successful with this method. Slightly more automated for boxes on demand:

  21. Rolf

    Finally an easy way to test in IEs.. They should have done this years ago, but hey, who cares. Had one running in minutes so that’s pretty nice.

  22. The 90 day limit might be worth it!

  23. These are incredibly handy for browser testing. Microsoft actually helping the web development community for once is a nice change.

  24. joe

    It’s not 90 days nor 30 days. I downloaded and installed IE8Win8 VHD, and the notice to activate happened too soon, it could NOT have been 30 days. So i decided to re-arm, and immediately after checked the computer properties info, it said “10 days to activate”.

  25. NoMorgan

    Please Mr microsoft, provide 64bits version of thé VM :/

    I have to test some specific plugin for IE (and web content) on 64 bits arch…

  26. Ron Cooper

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention – off to see how this can help in our test automation.

  27. 64bitsOrDie

    yah, I need 64-bit vms too. (need to run 64-bit java)
    as far as I can tell, they are all 32-bit vms?

  28. Errr I’ll just leave this here :) remove the activation restart, legit.

    We’re using these boxes as dev tools, not as end-users. We’re trying to make experiences on Microsoft products better… why the hell would we ever have to pay for licenses to be able to develop for crummy, terrible browsers that waste £millions of manpower backporting code for?? Rant over.

  29. There is no need to install unrar. The first part (ending in SFX) is a self-extracting executable.

  30. Morten G

    Repeating: Are there any 64-bit versions?

  31. OP you seem to be familiar wih these, I need a win7 for virtulbox but it has to be 32bit, any idea if these are built on the 32 or 64bit versions? No where to ask on m$ ite either :(

  32. @Steve M: The VMs are 32bit.

  33. Mike T

    Would like to have 64-bit versions too. If nothing else just to increase testing efficiency (I have a beefy and fast machine but VM’s still run slow due to 32-bit OS). But overall, thanks for the pre-configured VM’s Microsoft!

  34. You could gain more time to evaluate Windows (up to additional 120 days) by opening the Command Line as an Administrator (right click on the shortcut item and select Run As Administrator) and typing

    slmgr -rearm

    on the Windows command line. There are rumors that an addition Registry change can extend this period up to 360 days, and this is all legal, it is code that left by Microsoft for people who need more time to evaluate Windows before purchasing a valid license.

  35. Chris Kobrzak

    As of mid October 2016 the VMs don’t seem to be available anymore. Well, one evaluation version of Win 10 still is but the link is very helpfully buried somewhere at the bottom of the downloads page:


    VMs are still available under this link but the VMs are still just 32 bit unless you go with Windows 10.

  37. Christian Haller

    I can’t find the good old internet explorer anymore :-(

  38. Myles Dugenfelder

    Well this didn’t last very long :(

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