Standalone IE7 – The Fix

If you caught last Friday’s Design View, you would have seen instructions on running IE7 as a standalone app — the alternative to replacing your faithful(?) old IE6 install. Over the weekend a number of people have reported that, although their IE7 runs fine, their IE6 install has begun behaving strangely, most commonly passing responsibility to Firefox when being passed a URL.

The good news is Jon Galloway at Microsoft’s ASP.net Weblogs has had this issue too, and has it covered.

The problem is that IE7 writes a registry key that causes IE6 to shift to an also undocumented “evil” mode, and it’s necessary to delete this registry key after running IE7 and before running IE6 with the December 05 cumulative security update.

Thankfully, the fix is fairly easy — a small batch script that removes the nasty reg key that IE7 makes, and guards against it recurring. Jon has a detailed explanation on the process here. The short versions is:

  • Right-click on this link and select ‘Save Link As…’
  • Save the file in your IE7 folder as ‘IE7.bat ‘.
  • From now on, run this file (‘IE7.bat’) whenever you want to launch IE7.

You’ll see the batch file launches it’s own little command window — leave this open (minimized) while IE7 is runing or else it will get up to it’s old shenanigans again. You can kill it as soon as IE7 closes.

Thanks Jon.

September 2006 : As of IE7 beta 3 this solution no longer works. At the moment the only working method that I know of is Tredosoft’s downloadable app — get it here. http://tredosoft.com/IE7_standalone

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  • Sojan80

    Has there been any indication from Microsoft that this issue will be fixed via another patch/update/ beta release of IE7?

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  • http://www.phpnerds.com petesmc

    Microsoft has already noted that they do not support running Standalone IE7, so I doubt there will be a fix in a later version.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    Yep, Microsoft aren’t interested in helping developers run any standalone version of IE – least of all IE7. If you want to do it, you’re on your own as far as they’re concerned. They expect you to run either separate dedicated PCs for each browser, or a virtual machine setup like Virtual PC, Bochs or Xen.

  • Anonymously

    If you don’t want the console window you can try out the VBScript version of the hack.

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  • http://www.digitalgreenlight.com busy

    I did the opposite, I upgraded to IE7 beta, and then got the IE6 standalone from http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/32bit/standalone

    The only drawback is conditional comments think you’re using ie7 even when you’re trying to use 6. Other hacks work fine though, and you can always just test for a stylesheet by hand. Still easier than anything else I’ve tried.

  • TheBomb

    As Busy did, I upgraded to IE7 and got a the evolt standalone version of IE6, but this caused IE6 to run buggy. It especially stopped some transparent PNG fixes working, which was enough for me to revert back to a normal instal of IE6.

    IE6 has to run perfectly if I’m going to be testing my designs with any confidence.

    I’ll try this new IE7 solution later.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    IE6 has to run perfectly if I’m going to be testing my designs with any confidence.

    I’ll try this new IE7 solution later.

    I agree. At this stage, if IE has to be buggy, I’d prefer that it was IE7. I’ve tried Vivek’s VBScript version of this hack working and it seems to be an improvement on the batch file version.

    The issues with the popup blocker and dropdowns are still a problem that doesn’t have a solution at this stage (to my knowledge).

  • squareman

    I’m getting consistent problems everytime I run 7b2 (even with the .bat script) where it breaks the 5.5 standalone. I’ll get my system running and playing nicely with the 5.01 and 5.5 standalones playing nice with version 6; but as soon as I run (and close) 7b2, I start getting kernel32 errors in IE 5.5 only. I can still run 5.01 standalone and IE6 just fine; but running 5.01 is less useful than being able to run 5.5.

    Trying to get rid of the kernel32 error has been a bear and I’m not quite sure how to fix the 5.5 standalone. Any ideas?

  • squareman

    Responding to my own post above… I think I found the “solution.” It appears that I always get the kernel32.dll error when I try to start up IE 5.5 on its own. If I have IE 6 running and then do IE 5.5, it seems to run fine. Even the conditional comments behave properly if I run regedit.exe to delete the version vector first. As long as I can consistently run IE 7, 6 and 5.5 (even if it means doing the aformentioned manual delete of the version vector), I’m relatively happy that I can now test (x)html/css in those browsers.

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  • Yousif

    I just want to let you guys know that there is a launch script available for IE7 Beta 3. You can read more about it here

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    I just want to let you guys know that there is a launch script available for IE7 Beta 3. You can read more about it here

    Haven’t had time to test it yet, but thanks Yousif. Beta 3 has been a problem till now.