Microsoft Gives Windows 10's Browser-Management Tools a Boost
- By Kurt Mackie
- August 27, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday announced some improvements to Windows 10's browser-management controls, including support for the new Edge browser in Enterprise Mode.
Windows 10 comes with the Internet Explorer 11 browser for legacy Web apps and intranet support, as well as Microsoft's new Edge 1.0 browser. Edge is Microsoft's leading-edge browser going forward, but in creating it, Microsoft jettisoned a lot of code that supported older browser technologies. Microsoft wants organizations to use Edge as the default browser, but Windows 10 users also will have the option to switch to IE 11 when it's needed.
This browser switching capability is enabled by Microsoft's Enterprise Mode for IE technology. Enterprise Mode is an IE 11 solution that emulates older Microsoft browser technologies, all the way down to IE 5.
Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has extended Enterprise Mode to support its Edge browser, too. Specifically, IT pros can use existing IE 11 compatibility site lists created with the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool with the Edge browser, if wanted. Alternatively, they can create new compatibility site lists specifically for the Edge browser.
The new Enterprise Mode support for Edge works with Windows 10 build 10240 and newer versions. IT pros don't have to enable this new capability, but if they are already using Enterprise Mode, they can configure Edge to use an existing compatibility site list, if wanted.
As far as end users are concerned, the browser switching is fairly painless. It happens automatically via a messaging system. Edge users will get a message explaining that IE is the preferred browser to use when visiting a site on the compatibility list. They can then ignore the message and continue to use Edge or they can click a link in the message to open the site in IE.
Many of the Enterprise Mode actions can be configured by IT pros using Group Policy. Those Group Policy options include:
- "Use the Enterprise Mode IE website list" (for using compatibility lists with IE 11)
- "Allows you to configure Enterprise Site list" (for using compatibility lists for Edge)
- "Sends all intranet traffic over to Internet Explorer" (for making IE 11 the default browser, but Microsoft advises using site lists instead of this approach)
- "Set a default associations configuration file" (for configuring IE 11 as the default browser as well, but Microsoft recommends using Edge as the default browser instead of this approach)
Microsoft also rolled out a new "DoNotTransition" attribute for Edge. It can be set to "true" or "false" for listed sites. A true value won't use IE 11, whereas a false value will use it.
Microsoft also reminded organizations about the shortened product lifecycle support that's in effect for IE. In its announcement, Microsoft noted that "starting on January 12, 2016, Internet Explorer 11 will be the minimum supported version to continue to receive security updates and technical support on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1."
Microsoft had announced this truncated support policy last year. The lifecycles of the various IE versions no longer track the same way with Windows lifecycles, per this policy change. Organizations running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will have to use IE 11 by the January deadline or risk not getting security updates for Microsoft's browser.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.