View into Microsoft Super Preview for Expression Web

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Microsoft Expression Web SuperPreview logoMicrosoft has finally acknowledged the need for a way for developers and Web designers alike to test webpages in various versions of their market dominating Internet Explorer browser. That acknowledgment is known as Microsoft Super Preview. Super Preview allows you to view your website on Internet Explorer 6,7, and 8 – so you can make sure your website looks as intended (ie. the same) in each browser.

Why Use Super Preview?

Developers have long complained about the need to get webpages to work in so many different browsers, especially with new releases coming out every other year or so as they compete for market share. There’s also a bit of a stigma surrounding Microsoft’s near monopoly of the browser market. Historically, Microsoft would bundle Internet Explorer with its ever-present Windows operating system, practically forcing users to adopt the browser as their default choice for surfing the Internet.

Enter the World of Open Source

Legislative action has given way to a slightly more competitive environment, and the Firefox movement – Spread Firefox – has taken hold in the open-source community which has been growing at a rapid clip, offering free software alternatives to popular proprietary software such as MS Office, the quality of which is gaining in reputation. As a result, Firefox users now own about a third of the browser market, with Internet Explorer covering virtually the rest, and Apple’s Safari coming in a distant third.

A Different Browser, a Different Look

Until now, developers had to find ways to access older browsers to see how their webpages would look in all these different browsers. The problem was, the Windows operating system typically did not allow multiple versions of Internet Explorer to coexist. As a result, webpages often went untested and would break down in older versions of Internet Explorer.

A Different O/S, a Different Look

Browsers also varied by operating system – which meant IE7 Windows wouldn’t necessarily render the same as IE7 running a Mac. Microsoft is attempting to address this issue in its efforts to establish a more user-friendly image, and especially to come back the ever-growing collaborative community known as open source. In comes Microsoft Super Preview.

The Advantages of Using Microsoft Super Preview

The advantages of using Microsoft’s IE preview software are many, not the least of which is the convenience of not having to install multiple browsers and get them to work together – a task that is both daunting and nearly impossible.

Microsoft Super Preview lets you view your pages in multiple browsers at the same time, and compare renderings to your website layout images. You can set a baseline browser, which is where you initially test your website. You then attempt to make your webpages compatible in the remaining browsers. Super Preview contains the IE6 rendering engine. You can use it side-by-side with other IE versions.

Who Will Benefit from Microsoft’s Super Preview?

Since most non-IE browsers are able to coexist side-by-side (for example, you can run several different versions of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, etc. at the same time without facing compatibility problems), the primary benefit of using Super Preview is to compare IE6, IE7, and IE8 side-by-side. Visit Microsoft’s Super Preview page to download this handy and free utility today.

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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4 Comments on "View into Microsoft Super Preview for Expression Web"


The article also announces with some glee that Microsoft has recently introduced a software program or tool which will enable a developer to preview how a site will look on different versions of their browser software, side by side. While I certainly agree that this is an excellent tool, and well overdue, the author overlooks a rather obvious solution.

Why not just simply try out the new web pages on different computers, each one loaded with a different version of IE? Sure, it is not an ideal solution, but many web developers (including myself, an amateur) did exactly this back in the day. Again, it was a bit of a pain, and many people may argue that not everyone has a bunch of different computers available to do this with. However, this is primarily aimed at web developers. As a group, we typically have a bunch of projects in various states of completion. This includes a bunch of different computers.

Given all that, I do really like the Microsoft Super Preview software. It is very nice and convenient to finally be able to look at everything side by side all on the same machine. Yes, no more running back and forth between computers, replicating changes on each version, etc… It does indeed make everything much easier.

The author does also correctly point out the fact that this tool will be primarily (really exclusively) for comparing versions of IE. This is because almost every other browser version is fully capable of running together with others. So, to test something in FireFox or Google Chrome, just open that browser and fire up your new web page. Another major benefit of this is also in making little tweaks or minor changes to your sites.


While I am not a web developer by trade, I do have some knowledge of how to build and deploy a variety of different web sites. This article, about the importance of knowing how your newly developed site will look and work in older browser versions was of particular interest since this is an issue many people have had (including myself).

One of the main problems is that Microsoft does not allow multiple versions of its browser software to run together on the same computer. This was very unfortunate to web developers for a number of different reasons. First, the way these browsers work (or do not work) very often boggles the mind. Something that renders perfectly in one version will not display at all in the next. Even though we were promised full backward compatibility, experienced designers (as well as web users) know that this is simply not the case. Secondly, in the past Microsoft has totally dominated the browser market. They would traditionally bundle their browser, Internet Explorer (IE) together with their computer operating system. Consequently, almost everyone who owned a personal computer was practically forced to use a version of IE.

However, the situation has all changed. There were legal battles which finally paved the way for new browsers to enter the market. The first of these new browsers was called FireFox. Since Microsoft had become a dirty word to many people who saw their tactics as being monopolistic (or worse), a movement spread rapidly to bring FireFox to the general internet public. Even better, this new browser was completely free and open source. Open source meant that any developer was free to view the source code and add on to it as they saw fit.

The open source movement has led to the widespread development of FireFox, along with many other new browsers, including a Google version and Apple’s Safari browser. Of course, IE is still the market leader, with approximately 55 percent of the market. FireFox has about a third and Safari has most of the rest.


Interesting, it does display different in different browsers, this is crucial for marketing ploys because they want to send the same message to the audience instead of mixed messages.

Great review.


I was wondering if I should use Microsoft’s Super Preview to test IE layouts and your site just convinced me Nice work


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