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I copied code from our live site (running windows server 2003) to a new QA virtual machine (running windows 2008). When I view the page source info its exactly the same, but the appearance of the sites is very different. Is this caused by the difference in OS, or am I looking in the wrong place?

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Can you post (links to) screen shots of the pages from each server. It might help. –  ChrisF Jun 14 '10 at 19:01
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2 Answers

The appearance of the sites is determined by the browser you are using. If the application is generating the same code on each server, then the page should look identical if viewed in the same browser.

If you haven't copied a CSS file from the live site to the virtual machine, this could explain the problem. If the CSS file isn't found then the browser just renders the content using the default font of the browser.

What browser/version are you viewing the sites with?

Another thing that could affect the way the site looks is if the default font settings (style and size) are changed on the browser.

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I am using the same browser for both sites (Firefox 3.6.3) –  dan_vitch Jun 14 '10 at 18:39
    
@dan_vitch - I was afraid of that ;) –  ChrisF Jun 14 '10 at 18:44
    
I checked in IE8 and have the same problem. It not just small style differences (size, fonts,). The pages are being rendered differently (which probably means this isnt a style question) –  dan_vitch Jun 14 '10 at 18:59
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@dan - CSS can cover a lot more than just text size and font. It's layouts, backgrounds etc. so it still might be a missing CSS file. –  ChrisF Jun 14 '10 at 19:04
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I figured it out. After doing some more digging, I found a similar post on SO. The solution was here. The way to enable the solution located here.

The breakdown is the following

  • You must enable static content though IIS
  • This is done via a checkbox in Vista (and I believe windows 7)
  • You must install this role for windows server
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