Cross browser/platform testing

I have a question regarding testing a website across every browser and platform. We still support IE7, IE8 and IE9. Since IE7 behaves differently on XP than it does on Vista, as does IE8, we have the following machines setup for cross browser/platform testing: XP IE7, XP IE8, Vista IE7, Vista IE8, Windows 7 IE9. Currently we VNC into all of those machines to test from our Macs, but I’m wondering if there’s an easier way. Now we use IEtester for basic layout testing, but IEtester just isn’t the same as checking it on an actual Windows box with IE on it, especially when it comes to JS errors. How does everyone else out there do it? Is there an easier way?

I am on the Mac too. I use VMWare Fusion and am running Windows 7 on two virtual machines (one for native IE8 and one for native IE9, respectively) and run three virtual machines for IE6, IE7, and IE8 on Windows XP.

I don’t use IETester anymore because it’s proven to not be all that accurate.

I have thought about building a beefy machine and installing a bunch of different versions of Windows and IE on it so we could switch virtually like that…definitely an option

Should you want to go that route, definitely also test Virtualbox (free) and Parallels. Parallels has a 30-day trial if I remember correctly, and so does VMWare Fusion.

The only thing I don’t like about these virtual machines is the fact that they’re resource hogs.