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Support and licensing of ThinApp's virtualized Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 7 (1027005)

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ThinApp 4.6 introduced the ability to easily virtualize Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), particularly for use on Windows 7 for legacy websites and web applications. This article answers some questions about support and usage of ThinApp for virtualized Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 7.


Why would you want to virtualize Internet Explorer 6?

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 has a tight dependency on older Windows versions, so it is not possible to install native IE6 on Windows 7. Therefore, business applications written for IE6 are incompatible with Windows 7.

Migrating to Windows 7 means porting legacy IE6 applications to Internet Explorer 8 to conform to the new operating system environment. By supporting virtual IE6 on Windows 7, VMware allows organizations to extend the life of their legacy applications until they can update them to IE8.

What happens when you virtualize Internet Explorer 6 with ThinApp?

ThinApp takes a snapshot of Internet Explorer 6 files from your native installation of IE6 on Windows XP. This is a snapshot like any other ThinApp snapshot of files used to create a virtual version of an application.

The capture of IE6 is accomplished with a template of pointers to files in your native IE6 installation, rather than with a capture of the changes to the file system and registry that occurs during application installation. To create a virtualized image of IE6, ThinApp populates the pre-built template with the necessary captured files.

Who supports virtual IE6 running on Windows 7?

IE6 does not run natively on Windows 7, so Microsoft does not support IE6 on Windows 7.

VMware generally supports a ThinApp virtual application only if it is supported natively on the target operating system. But VMware makes an exception for virtual IE6. Even though you cannot install IE6 natively on Windows 7, VMware supports virtual IE6 on Windows 7.

Just as for any application that you virtualize with ThinApp, VMware is your first point of contact if there are issues with the virtual version of IE6. If you package your legacy application together with IE6 in ThinApp, and the package fails to run on Windows 7, call VMware for support.

In addition, the ThinApp ThinDirect plug-in (browser helper object) installed in a native instance of IE does not use virtualization and is supported by VMware.

Does deploying a ThinApp version of IE6 on the same computer with native IE affect my ability to obtain support from Microsoft for my native installation of IE?

Because ThinApp virtualizes applications in user mode within a separate process and without system changes, the native installation of IE remains unaffected.

Deploying a virtualized IE6 to support legacy websites does not affect your ability to obtain support for natively installed IE instances on the same operating system. In the event there were any issues introduced by concurrently running both a native instance of IE8 and virtual IE6, customers can either call VMware support or exit the running virtualized IE6 application and call Microsoft.

Is VMware distributing virtualized IE6 to its customers?

VMware is not distributing a virtual IE6 package. Instead, you use ThinApp to virtualize IE6 from your own licensed, natively installed Internet Explorer 6 on a Windows XP capture machine.

Just as for any other virtual application that you package with ThinApp, VMware expects you to capture a licensed version of native Internet Explorer 6. ThinApp takes a snapshot of the native installation to create the virtual version and does not change the code of the original application. The files included in a ThinApp packaged version of IE6 are also distributed by Microsoft's IE6 SP1 download found at:

What exactly does VMware support of IE6 include?

VMware support of virtual IE6 includes:
  • Simple, click-through user interface to package virtual IE6 together with a custom application, from a Windows XP capture machine
  • A single virtual IE6 executable that can run on Windows XP or Windows 7. There is no overhead of using XP Mode on Windows 7.
  • The ability to run virtual IE6 alongside a native version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 in 32- or 64-bit mode
  • Redirection of web pages from native Internet Explorer to virtual IE6 when you implement ThinApp ThinDirect
  • Low disk space usage: Requires only 40 MB of disk space wherever you place virtual IE6
  • Low memory usage: When you start up ThinApp virtual IE6 for an average website like, only 32 MB of memory is required to start up and load the website
  • Runs on the same network adaptor as the host computer
  • Starts in a few seconds  
With ThinApp ThinDirect, you can redirect web pages to multiple specified virtual browsers deployed on the same Windows machine. 
For more information, see:

Update History

16 September 2010: Clarified licensing discussion.

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