As IE can only work reliably in exclusion of other versions. the most (or only) reliable way to test various versions of IE on one machine is using virtualization. Amazing but oh-so-true.
VPC images for ie6 ie7 and ie8 for web development and testing from Microsoft
Microsoft give away free time crippled VHD files for this purpose – search for “Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image”. Today you will find this link here. Look at that link – SEO urls a-go-go! Gone.
Problem is that getting these images to play nice with VMWare Fusion for Mac is not so straightforward. The only way I’ve found to do this is documented here on the VMWare communities. The result — at least without the required XP Pro install disk which I have packed away in a box somewhere — is pretty good. Not as seamless as the original VirtualPC image I converted but very usable.
An aside… on forcing IE8 to be backwardly compatibile with IE7
…is via a metatag in the head element to ask it nicely to behave like IE7:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7"/>
DON’T BREAK THE WEB! They cried. I think there’s ironing in there. Nice starch.