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A Fast, Accurate Way to Test Internet Explorer on iOS, Mac OS X, and Android

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Earlier this year, the Microsoft team launched a new tool to make it easier to test sites in IE regardless of which platform you’re on; seriously! It’s part of their work on Microsoft Edge and its new rendering engine and new user-agent string, which is a fork of Trident that’s far more interoperable with the mobile Web.

In this tutorial, I want to demonstrate what this looks like in Chrome on my MacBook and how to set it up.

tl;dr? Here are some Vines to show you it in action:

The tool is called RemoteIE and is designed to offer a virtualized version of the latest version of IE. This allows you to test out the latest version of IE without having to have a virtual machine installed. And if you want to test for past versions of IE, you can always use the free virtual machines on http://dev.modern.ie by starting here.

Getting It All Set Up

I ran through the steps to use the tool myself and wanted to document everything in case you run into any hiccups.

First, head on over to RemoteIE which will take you to this page:

modernie signin page

You’ll need a Microsoft account to use the service since it needs to associate the service to that account.

Application permissions page

If you have a Live.com or Outlook.com account you can use that, or you can register for a new one. No, you don’t need to use those services for anything else if you don’t want to, but they’ve actually gotten way better and might be worth a look.

Next, you’ll want to select which server is closest to you so you have the best possible performance:

Select a server location

At this point you’ll be asked to download the Microsoft Remote Desktop app for whichever platform you want. This could be for

  • Mac OS X
  • iPhone or iPad
  • Android
  • Windows x86 or x64
  • Windows RT
Download page

As you can see, I was serious when I said this would be available cross-platform. On your Mac, download the app from the Apple App Store. Clicking on the Mac link will direct you to the online Apple store site.

Microsoft Remote Desktop app in Apple App Store

Click on the View in Mac App Store button so that you can launch the App Store app on your Mac. You’ll be presented by a confirmation notice from Chrome (or your favorite OS X browser) to launch the external app:

Chrome confirmation page

And after you confirm it you’ll be in the App Store entry:

Microsoft Remote Desktop App Store page

In my case, I already had the app installed which is why it shows “Open”. If you don’t have it installed, go ahead and do so. Once you've installed it, look for it in Finder:

Microsoft Remote Desktop in Finder

Or if you’re like me, use the awesome Alfred to find it:

Typing Microsoft remote d in Alfred

Now, the next step is why I wanted to create this tutorial, since it isn’t immediately obvious once you run Remote Desktop what to do. When you launch the app, if you take a look at the header, you’ll see an entry called Microsoft RemoteApp. That’s what you’ll want to click:

Microsoft RemoteApp button

From there, you’ll now be asked for your Microsoft account information to determine what app subscriptions you have available:

Enter email address
Loading subscriptions

Now that it’s figured out that you’re legit, you’ll see a dialog showing what your app subscriptions are:

Subscriptions list

Again, I want to help you avoid confusion here since the UX at this specific point is a little off. When you click on the checkbox for “Internet Explorer (email: iewebeco@microsoft.com)”, an entry for “Internet Explorer->IE Technical Preview” will be added to the main Microsoft Remote Desktop app BUT the dialog with the checkbox I just mentioned doesn’t disappear. See here:

Subscription box checked

So heads up. Once you see the entry in the main app that says IE Technical Preview, you can close the dialog box with the checkbox. You can see in the previous image how I highlighted the close dialog icon.

We’re almost done. Next, go ahead and double-click on IE Technical Preview to launch your virtualized version of IE. It’ll take just a minute to spin everything up so be patient:

Please wait for the User Profile Service page

And once it’s up, you have a full-blown version of IE 11 Technical Preview ready for you. Notice in the following image how the F12 Developer Tools are there for you:

the F12 Developer Tools are there for you

More Testing Tools

This is a great new tool, and it’ll definitely lower the friction to testing on the latest version of IE, but there are some limitations that should be noted, including the inability to access the local file system. It would be great if that were possible, but VMs can be tricky to deal with, especially from a security perspective.

Of course, there are other free tools that can help you test for IE:

If you want more details, you can check out the Remote.IE announcement on the IE Blog. So now that you’ve got this all set up, let us know if it’s helping you spend less time testing.

This article is part of the web dev tech series from Microsoft. We’re excited to share Microsoft Edge and the new EdgeHTML rendering engine with you. Get free virtual machines or test remotely on your Mac, iOS, Android, or Windows device @ http://dev.modern.ie/.

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