Are you interested in trying out IE8 Beta 2 but are worried about the impact of running beta software on your PC? Microsoft and the IE8 Developer team have a solution. Granted, it is designed more for developers and programmers, but this option is easy enough for anyone to try.
It involves using Microsoft’s free Virtual PC 2007 and hard disk images (.vhd) that are available for download here. VPC2007 allows another operating system (like Windows XP, for instance) to be run ‘inside’ of another version of Windows, in my case Windows Vista.
I first downloaded and installed VPC2007, then I downloaded the XPSP3 with IE6 virtual disk image. It downloads as an executable (.exe) file that, when double-clicked, prompts you to decompress it to a location of your choice. Then, opening VPC2007, I used the new disk wizard to point to the .vhd image file that I just decompressed. It was that easy!
Here’s a SnagIT screen capture of my Vista desktop with VPC2007 running XPSP3 with IE8 Beta 2 installed:
Lest you think you are getting a free copy of XP (or Vista, if you choose to download the .vhd file), the images come with this warning in the Readme.txt file:
This image will expire on December 25, 2008. At that time the Operating System will no longer boot, and you will be locked out of the VHD. Please ensure you back up any relevant data before December 25, 2008.
Give VPC2007 and IE8 Beta 2 a try. Using the above tools, you now have a safe, easy way to beta-test!