Reliable Cross Browser Testing on Internet Explorer (IE)

What comes to your mind when you hear the term Cross Browser Testing?

Testing an application over a combination of multiple browsers, OS, and devices – is that it? But, do you really think cross browser testing is that simple? The reality of cross browser testing is entirely different than what you think. For developers and testers, it is the most important and challenging task of the application development process. Apart from finding all the targeted browsers and operating systems, finding a reliable cross browser testing tool is considered as the most difficult task for testers. 

While among other popular browsers like Microsoft Edge, Chrome, and Firefox – Internet Explorer is still a choice for many Windows users, which makes it crucial to test your web application in Internet Explorer. And people who are using it might be using different versions of Internet Explorer. So, it becomes compulsory to test your application across all those versions. However, one question that still remains the same is – finding a reliable cross browser testing solution. 

So, here we have mentioned some IE cross browser testing options that many developers or testers use. We will also explain why those solutions are not reliable, and then we will tell you about reliable cross browser testing solutions for IE6-IE10 and IE Edge. 

Unreliable Solutions for Cross Browser Testing in IE 

When you search on Google regarding IE cross browser testing tools, you’ll find more than ten options, out of which nine tends to be unreliable. Let’s have a look at some of these unreliable solutions. In case, if you’re using any of below-given methods, then don’t be upset with the reviews. Instead, opt for a reliable IE testing solution that we will talk later in the article. 

1) IE Tester 

It is among the most popular third-party testing tools that are used by designers and developers for testing across multiple versions of IE. The reason behind its popularity is that it promises users to solve all of their IE testing despairs, but the reality is actually different than this. 

IE displays many contradictions while testing IE 6, 7, and 8 versions, out of which no one provides the real experience of the original browsers. Apart from that, there are some other issues as well, such as the rendered output of IETester varies differently than real versions of IE, pop-up interactions cause failures, conditional CSS comments fail often, CSS and Flash filters don’t work properly in user mode, and when you try to switch between versions – it becomes prone to crashing. 

2) Multiple IE 

Just like IE Tester, Multiple IE has multiple issues when it comes to IE testing, including inaccurate rendering. Most users complain that they encounter rendering bugs of IE 5.5 even when testing IE 6. Developers who already face other issues with IE 6 cross browser testing doesn’t want to deal with this issue. Also, Multiple IE is not updated regularly, which means if users are complaining regarding it, no action is taken to fix the issues. 

According to some of our experts, both IE Tester and Multiple IE rely on an exploit DLL redirection to avoid issues related to DLL naming conflicts, which enable the tools to run standalone copies of IE. So, try avoiding any of these tools for your IE cross browser testing. 

3) Microsoft’s Expression Web SuperPreview 

This utility is capable of simplifying the testing and debugging process across multiple versions of browsers – as claimed by Microsoft. But, when you’ll use this testing utility, you’ll find that it is unable to test complete user interaction, JavaScript, animation, DOM manipulation, and many other fields. 

We all know that web applications are very dynamic and highly interactive these days, so this type of tool is not accurate for cross browser testing. However, it can be helpful for baseline testing. 

4) Browser and Documents Mode 

Mentioned above are third-party software, but Microsoft itself provides solutions for testing your application over Internet Explorer. IE 9 and IE 10 PP2 – both these versions supports switchable browser and document modes for cross browser testing via F12 Developer tools. 

The Document mode describes the available features of the page and what else can be adjusted based on the page’s doctype. For example, web pages can take advantage of IE’s implementation of ECMAScript 5 with the help of standards document mode. However, IE 7 and IE 8 standards modes provide a different experience. 

On the other hand, Browser mode competes with different behaviors of IE browser versions that can be modified from the IE Developer tools directly. Emulation adjusts both the document mode and the user-agent string. The UA string ensures that the code relies on UA sniffing functions. It is necessary to know that IE comes with a new JavaScript engine known as Chakra, whereas the browser itself supports multiple compatibility modes. 

This is because the JavaScript engine is slightly different than the engine shipped with IE 6, 7, and 8. Apart from that, there come many other quirks during the functioning of both document mode and browser mode. Many users have complaints regarding IE returning a wrong user-agent string to the server. These modes have their own issues that are not present in IE 6, 7 or 8, which makes it more daunting for testers to identify whether these issues occur due to a specific browser version or the mode that is being used. So, based on these reasons, developers should not use document or browser mode for cross-browser testing of IE. 

Reliable Solutions for Cross Browser Testing in IE 

So, we talked about some of the unreliable cross-browser testing solutions. Now, let’s put some light on the reliable testing solutions for Internet Explorer. 

1) Using Dedicated VMS for Each Version of IE 

Many experienced developers prefer to use a dedicated VM for testing each version of IE. And they use the original Internet Explorers with these VMs, rather than using any third-party tool. Using the original IEs reduces the risk of individual browser configuration and ensure that you test the exact version of IE that you want to. So, if you’re planning to use this method, we would recommend the following set up: 

  • Windows Vista (SP2) for IE 7 and IE 8 
  • Windows XP (SP3) for IE 6 
  • Windows 7 for IE 9 and IE 10 

But, operating three to four VMs on the same system and using them for other tasks as well can be unmanageable. However, if you’re using 8GB RAM or more than that, then this set-up will work for you. 

2) VNC or RDP + Dedicated Testing Boxes 

There are many developers out there who use a remote desktop to log into a dedicated testing box over a network for cross browser testing. This method decreases the demand on memory for each client, and it can be utilized in many ways. However, the most useful are VNC and RDP. 

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is an independent desktop sharing system that enables users to control another computer remotely, which means you can access and function another computer from your desktop over a network. RDP is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft that works in the same way as VNC. 

Now, you might be curious to know the difference between VNC and RDP. Well, RDP gives you access to more controls, fonts, and other graphical primitives, whereas VNC doesn’t offer that much access. But, for multi-user demonstration – VNC is more helpful as it permits a session to be shared on the target machine. 

But, testing over a network might result in dropped packages that can affect your ability to test highly interactive applications. Also, web applications that are designed with rich-media experiences cannot be tested reliably over networks. 

3) Remote Testing with LambdaTest 

If you’re not willing to purchase any dedicated box for remote testing of your web app in IE versions due to higher cost, then you can use LambdaTest that host multiple versions of Windows along with oldest versions of Internet Explorer and other browsers.LambdaTest is embedded with some extensive features for IE testing that make it unique in the cross browser testing market. Have a look at some of its features: 

Live Cross Browser Compatibility Testing: LambdaTest allows you to perform live cross browser compatibility testing across all versions of Internet Explorer, including IE 7, IE 8, 9, 10 and 11 along with all operating system. Also, you can record and take screenshots of the real-time browser testing. 

Examine Responsiveness on Various Screens: LambdaTest allows you to check the responsiveness of your website across all screen sizes with just one click. Also, the Secure Shell will enable you to test the responsiveness of locally hosted websites. 

Collaborate Freely During Testing: LambdaTest allows users to communicate freely with others while performing the cross browser testing, which can be very beneficial for organizations as testers can log issues and share them with their team members via slack or email. 

Better Visual Testing: If you’re facing problems in solving issues related to visual testing on IE versions, then you can analyze the visual appeal of your app with LambdaTest. Also, with automated visual regression testing, you can check whether web page layouts on different IE versions are intact or not. 

Inbuilt Issue Tracker: LambdaTest not only help you in cross-browser testing, but it can also help you in detecting bugs in your web app. With the inbuilt issue tracker, you can manage bugs easily and share them with your developer’s team. 

24/7 Support: Every user that perform cross browser testing on a third-party tool requires continuous support. And LambdaTest always stays at the front by providing 24/7 support to its customers. 

Knowing these features, you might want to test your web application over Internet Explorer browser versions with a cross browser testing tool like LambdaTest. 


After knowing that people access your website across a multiple version of Internet Explorer, it becomes crucial to test your web app compatibility across all versions. But, most developers often don’t use a reliable cross browser testing platform. In this article, we tried to showcase some unreliable testing tools that developers use, as well as adequate testing solutions for IE versions.
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About Debasis Pradhan

Debasis has over a decade worth of exclusive experience in the field of Software Quality Assurance, Software Development and Testing. He writes here to share some of his interesting experiences with fellow testers.


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