New Windows 10 virtual machine images let anyone test Microsoft's Edge browser

People who don't run Microsoft's latest operating system can now test its new browser

Web developers who want to make sure that their sites and apps run well on Microsoft's new Edge browser can now download a virtual machine that works with popular virtualization software on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

The Microsoft Edge Dev site now provides downloads for special Windows 10 virtual machine packages that work with applications like Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels and come built for testing Edge. It's going to be a useful tool for developers who aren't using Windows 10 but want to make sure that Edge's new rendering engine (which is different from the one Internet Explorer used) works well with their websites and web apps.

There's one slight hitch: Microsoft notes on its download page for the VMs that the Settings app may display a message telling users to connect to the Internet in order to activate their copy of Windows. According to the company, that's the result of a bug, and doesn't actually affect the activation status of the virtual machine.

This isn't a path to free Windows 10 for everyone, though. The virtual machines stop working after 90 days, and users will lose all of their data. Microsoft recommends creating a snapshot of an Edge virtual machine that users can then restore from later to help manage that limitation.

It's a continuation of Microsoft's previous Modern.IE program, which served up virtual machines running everything from Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP to Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8. Those VMs are still available for download from the Microsoft Edge Dev website as well, for developers who need to test their work against older versions of Microsoft's browser.

Moving forward, Microsoft Edge Program Manager Anton Molleda said that the company is working on making the browser available through Azure RemoteApp so developers can use the browser through a virtual machine hosted in the company's cloud. In addition, the Edge team is working on supporting Vagrant and QEMU with future virtual machine images. Once it’s set up, developers will be able to use Edge through RemoteApp for free for up to 60 minutes at a time before the system kicks them off. Users will be able to start up a new session right after their old one ends, but their work won’t be saved between sessions.

In addition, the Edge team is working on supporting Vagrant and QEMU with future virtual machine images.

All of this work is a part of Microsoft's efforts to rebuild trust with the web development community after earlier versions of Internet Explorer received a well-deserved bad rap for failing to support web standards and behaving differently from other browsers like Firefox. By giving away these virtual machines, Microsoft makes it easier for developers who don't have PCs running the latest version of Windows to ensure they're building sites that work well with Edge.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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