Microsoft offers free hard drive image of Win XP, IE 6

Redmond (WA) - Responding to developers' wishes to be able to run both Internet Explorer 6 and 7 side-by-side, Microsoft has launched a Virtual PC (VPC) image of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Internet Explorer 6, and the IE7 Readiness Toolkit.

"The VPC image runs in a virtual machine that offers all of the functionality of a full IE6 installation without giving it any access to its host machines hard drive, registry, etc. You can make as many modifications as you want to the virtual machine without affecting your host installation at all," wrote IE product manager Pete LePage in the IE blog.

The download went live yesterday and has a size of 495.8 MB. Microsoft has released other VPC downloads to allow users to run multiple operating systems on a single computer.

The IE6 VPC download has what LePage calls a time bomb and will cease to function on April 1, 2007.