Microsoft updates IE testing site, gives away Parallels Desktop

Elliot Bentley

Disillusioned web devs wooed with free VMs, testing tools and dirt-cheap copies of Parallels Desktop for Mac.

With Chrome and Firefox adding innovative bleeding-edge features seemingly every week, it’s easy to forget that Internet Explorer is still being used by a third of the market – and that a non-insignificant chunk of these are far behind the latest release, Internet Explorer 10.

Earlier this year, Microsoft launched modern.IE to aid developers working with legacy versions of IE, offering free virtual machines and a scanner to highlight incompatibilities. An update yesterday introduces new VMs, an improved scanner and best of all – close-to-free swag.

For a $25 charitable donation (plus $6 postage), the company are offering a limited number of “Windows Quickstart Kits”, which include full versions of Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac and Windows 8 Pro. That was, until the package sold out within hours, although the team have hinted that similar offers may be coming in the future.

Of course, Microsoft already offer free virtual machines, including every version of Windows dating back to XP running IE6. These can run on most VM software, including the open source VirtualBox.

Alternatively, for those who can’t be bothered to install a VM on their own machine, modern.IE includes a three-month trial of BrowserStack, a service that allows remote cross-browser testing.

The scanner is also useful, notifying whether pages will be run on Compatibility Mode and highlighting out-of-date plugins and rogue prefixes, among other features – although devs may or may not care about Windows 8’s “touch-first browsing” and pinned “Start Screen tiles”.

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