One of the most important tasks when running a web page is to ensure it works for your end-users. Fortunately, there are many good tools available that help you to achieve this. Unfortunately, most of these tools consider as a web page a normal web page and normal users. Companies and corporate users that follow a whole different approach regarding front end software and browsers are not really their focus group. What does this mean? Tools that help you to test HTML5 code are optimized for newer browsers like Chrome or Firefox, sometimes they consider IE 10 a browser. Companies on the other hand run old browses like IE 8, 9 or 10 (not forget Windows XP). You do not even have to search hard to find IE 6 or FF 3 installed.
The major browser companies are good in pushing out their newest version to end user, resulting that on non-company controlled computers the browser installed does not necessarily match the one you need to do the tests. And if it does, chances are good that several users still did not receive the new default corporate browser. This makes it really hard to test a web site for all relevant browsers.
While it is not a big issue to have an old FF version installed in parallel on your computer, things are differently when it comes to IE. How do you test a web page for IE 9 compatibility when the computers you have access to have IE10 installed? Microsoft is aware of this issue and makes free IE VPC images available: http://modern.ie/ The list of images available is impressive: over 90 images, including Linux, Max, Windows, Virtualbox, VMWare, etc, for IE6 to IE11 on Windows 8.1
Even a Windows XP image with IE6 can be downloaded!
Using these images, you can easily hook up them into your automated web page functional tests (you have them, right?) and see if a web page works with a specific IE browser version. Additional benefit is that you get a vanilla installation of the OS and IE. If the web page does not work there, it`s unlikely it will work with a browser “enhanced” by add-ons. This allows you to check if a specific plugin or Windows customization is breaking your tests. This should also help in case you have to open a ticket to SAP: you can show that it does not work even on a vanilla installation.
The VMs run for 30 days and you can rearm them two times for another 30 days, totaling 90 days of usage. That’s just for the VM! You can recreate the VM unlimited times from the files. Practically you can use the VM an unlimited time. More information about the VMs can be found in a blog referenced to by Microsoft.