I've talked previously about options for performing IE6 Web Application testing. Some of them are pretty half arsed, and really the best approach is to keep a Virtual Machine handy. It's a funny situation when you need to quickly verify an IE6 issue, only to find that you don't have a copy of IE6 on ANY machine ANYWHERE - even servers!
Fortunately Microsoft has a solution, even if it's a temporary one. This Virtual PC Image is a pre activated copy of Windows XP that comes with IE6 - you're a mere 600mb download away from being able to perform that backwards compatibility testing you so desire to carry out! The problem is that the image expires in December 2007.
I guess most organisations should be prepared to have a couple of VMs around for this sort of testing - the one provided by Microsoft is just a stopgap measure. Maybe it's some sort of subtle passive aggressive way of admitting that making IE7 a stealth Windows Update wasn't really all that cool. Or, on the other hand, it could be their way of conveying their own quiet confidence that the same Windows Update aggression means that us Web Developers won't need to be worrying about IE6 past December 2007? We can only hope.
Personally, I use Firefox as my primary browser. I tend to use IE7 as my "test web app" browser, which suits me nicely in a work situation - the browser I kill when apps go bad isn't the same one containing my web mail, my google results and so forth. This makes it hard for me to care much about IE6 lingering around - it wasn't great at the best of times, and even if you hate IE7, you have to admit it's better than IE6 right?
Unfortunately I'm not that optimistic that it's going to be dealt with that quickly. For now, I'm greatful for the Virtual PC Image (which of course required VPC2007 if you're using Vista, because VPC2004 has serious Vista compatibility issues), however I realise that I'm going to need to make sure I have my own Windows XP/IE6 VPC solution sorted out before then.