Re: Tips on reliably testing different IEs
For just viewing (as opposed to fully testing) I always use http://netrenderer.com/
as it allows you to render it in pretty much any IE version.
As I use a Mac it's much easier doing it this way for a quick test than to fire up a VM for it...
If you don't want to mess around with Windows VMs locally, you can rent one cheaply on Rackspace. I did this for a short while when I needed to test in IE9 and didn't have a Windows 7 license. Once it's up and running, you connect to it using RDP
-- from Mac
; from Linux
It's a bit painful when you have a page with animation, e.g. an image carousel, but otherwise a good solution. You can use the minimum $0.08/hour Windows 2008 Server
to test IE8+, just build one for each version of IE you want to test (e.g. IE8, IE9, IE10 beta).
The trick to minimising cost with this service is to build your Windows instance and save it to storage. When you're finished using it, you can delete the running instance and thus stop paying the $0.08/hour. When you're ready to face up to the horror of IE testing again(!) you build a new instance from storage (it takes a couple of minutes, time to get a nice cup of coffee to steel yourself ready for testing IE!) This means you pay a little for storage too, but it works out to very little money per month that way (say $5 or so depending on how much time you spend testing IE).