Internet Explorer as an application

Wednesday 12 November 2003

In case you've been living in a cave recently, or don't read about web design much, the big news is that it is possible to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on the same Windows box, side by side, just like any other application. Microsoft has claimed for a long time that IE was too integrated into the operating system for it to be a separate application, and web designers have struggled with how to test their sites in more than one version.

Turns out, there's been a secret back door ever since the IE3 days, something to do with an empty file called iexplore.exe.local. You can download simple zip files, unpack them in whatever directory you want, and run the iexplore.exe you find in them. You get a number of different IE versions running simultaneously. Some people are warning that in fact, you may not have precise fidelity with the actual versions, since there are bits and pieces pulled in at runtime from all over. That's probably true, but I tried the downloads, and sure enough, I got old browser behavior from the old ones and new behavior from the new ones, all at the same time.

So far, this month, I have had no visitors at all using IE3 (why would they!), but now at least I know what they would have seen.

Comments

[gravatar]
Thomas Gumz 12:27 PM on 12 Nov 2003

The "side-by-side" feature (MS calls it "DLL/COM redirection) of suffixing an executable with the ".local" has nothing to do with Internet Explorer, it works for all applications.

See http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/sbscs/setup/dll_com_redirection_on_windows.asp for details...

[gravatar]
Roberto Almeida 12:42 PM on 12 Nov 2003

I was wondering if these "self-contained" Internet Explorers would work with Wine. I've tried running Internet Explorer with Wine in Linux before, but it never worked.

Perhaps the ".local" would make it easier?

[gravatar]
Ned Batchelder 5:58 AM on 13 Nov 2003

Thanks, Thomas. That's one of the great things about a blog with comments. I can write some half-baked thing, and you readers will finish it up for me and teach me stuff!

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