Earlier this year, Microsoft launched modern.IE to help developers ensure that their sites work well with old and new versions of Internet Explorer. The company is adding a few more features to the service today, including a new code scanning tool for sites behind a firewall and virtual machines for IE 10 on Windows 7 and IE8 on Windows XP. The highlight of this release, however, is that for a $25 donation to Watsi.org, Kahn Academy or Code.org and $8 for shipping ($16 if you are outside the U.S.), Microsoft will now send Mac developers its Windows QuickStart Kit with a copy of Windows 8 Pro and Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac on a USB stick.
Update: Microsoft has now sold out of the QuickStart kits on Swish.
As Sandeep Singhal, Microsoft’s group program manager for Internet Explorer notes in today’s announcement, “the most common way you test across browsers is through virtualization of many browsers and operating system combinations using your favorite virtualization platform, such as Hyper-V, VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels.” The cost of purchasing all the necessary software and licenses can make this difficult, however, especially for small startups. That’s why Microsoft is making a limited supply of these Windows 8 and Parallels Desktop for Mac USB sticks available (it’s not clear how limited this supply will be).
As a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed when I asked about some more details about this offer, the version of Windows included here is Windows 8 Pro, which could be installed using Bootcamp, too. The OEM version of Windows 8 currently sells for just about $140.
Developers can pre-order theirs here on Swish.com – a site better known for aggregating pre-orders from Kickstarter and Indigogo. To ensure that only developer can order the sticks, Microsoft added a small (but easy to solve) puzzle on the check-out page. The sticks are scheduled to ship by the end of April.
The QuickStart order page, by the way, shows a version of QuickStart for iOS developers who want to start building Windows Store apps. It’s not clear if this is a separate version of the QuickStart pack that was uploaded by mistake and which is yet to be announced, or if this is the same version as the one Microsoft is talking about today.
New Modern.IE Features
As part of today’s update to modern.IE, Microsoft now also makes Parallels for Mac images available on modern.IE for all IE versions and has updated the virtual machine installations process to make it easier.
The main tool Microsoft launched with Modern.IE in January was the ability to scan websites and check them for known compatibility issues. Since then, Singhal writes, developers have scanned “hundreds of thousands of sites.” Microsoft is now enhancing this tool by allowing developers to scan sites that sit behind firewalls by installing a local instance of modern.IE through node.js.
This new version of the webpage scanner now also provides users with more ideas for how to fix issues thanks to the new Compat Inspector tool powered by Sauce Labs. Also new in this version is breakpoint detection for responsively designed sites and touch-optimization detection.
With this release, modern.IE is now also available in 18 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai.