Running Internet Explorer 6 next to IE7 in standalone mode

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When I saw a meeting request called "IE6 vs Firefox" in my calendar I was preparing for a nice battle to make the interface of this project look the same in both browsers. On my machine, however, I am running IE7 (next to Firefox 2 of course) already for quite some time, so testing could be a bit of a problem. Luckily, there is such a thing as running IE6 in standalone mode, as I’m sure a lot of people already found out.

Like IE6 itself, this method is not without its limitations. On of the issues that had to be fixed was a rather common problem with IE6, and that’s the fact that it does not support transparent PNGs. Of course, there are several different solutions to this problem, either with javascript or just css with IE’s arbitrary conditional comments and behaviour files. These methods both rely on the DirectX filter called "DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader" for its alpha transparency. Both methods are tried and tested numerous times back in the days IE6 was still in its hayday (that must have been somewhere around 2001 ar about a century ago in computer terms). The standalone version of IE6 seems to lack some features the original built had, which includes the DirectX filters.

Thanks to some Googling I soon found out (site seems to have some problems) that indeed two dll are missing. The two files needed to get transparency filters working are:

  • DXTMSFT.DLL
  • DXTRANS.DLL

These files can be found at dll download sites like DLLdump.com, which come of course with no guarantee whatsoever. Put the two files in the directory where you put IE6 standalone. You can verify if your actions were succesful by visiting this page.

This solution requires only about 5MB to be downloaded, but does only solve this one limitation of running IE6 in standalone mode. For instance, it does not support cookies which can be quite troublesome if you need to test a system where you need to login and the sessionid is stored in a cookie for example. If you want to test your project on IE6 and have already installed IE7 on your machine you are not entirely out of luck. Microsoft provides developers with a free download of Virtual PC 2004 with an image of XP SP2 with IE6, including installers for IE Developer Toolbar and Script Debugger which is actually quite convenient to use as a testing environment.

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About Author

Interaction design, Usability, Front-end development. Slowly becoming developer for Android and iOS platforms. Likes cars and chocolate cookies.

2 Comments

  1. RE Multiple IE — IE6 as application package and IE7 as primary browser side by side on one client pc

    Is anybody running IE6 as an application package as well as IE7 as primary browser both side by side on the same client pc ?

    IE7 is used for general browsing and IE6 is used for Hyperion
    HFM 401
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  2. Ton, didn’t know about the Virtual PC solution. Thanks for letting know, that’s probably the easiest and best solution to do the testing.

    Patrick