Edge may be the faster, more standards-compliant Web browsing experience for Windows 10, but many organizations are still running browser-based applications built for earlier editions of Internet Explorer. For those users, Microsoft also includes IE11, which features backward-compatibility modes aimed at easing the transition to newer PC hardware and Windows operating systems.
Soon, many businesses clinging to older versions of IE won't have much of a choice. On Jan. 12, the company is cutting off technical support and security patches for all versions of the browser save for IE11 on Windows 7.
To ensure those customers aren't left out in the cold and can still access their legacy Web applications, Microsoft released a host of IE11 improvements and a new compatibility tool, announced Microsoft's Jatinder Mann, senior program manager lead, and Fred Pullen, product marketing director, in a lengthy blog post on Nov. 23.
Updates include higher fidelity emulation using the IE8 and IE7 Enterprise Modes, promoting better compatibility with sites built for those browsers. IE11 supports IE5, IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10 and IE11 document modes, enabling the browser to emulate those rendering engines. Customers can override the browser's site-loading defaults by configuring the Enterprise Mode Site List.
Also new is support for HTTP ports in Enterprise Mode, wrote Mann and Pullen. "We've also heard from many customers that they want the ability to apply Enterprise Mode compatibility features to sites with HTTP ports, such as http://contoso.com:8080, and we've listened: Enterprise Mode now supports HTTP ports," they stated.
"You can specify an HTTP port directly in your Enterprise Mode Site List XML, such as <domain>contoso.com:8080</domain>, or you can use the new Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool to add HTTP ports. To use this feature on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you’ll need to also install the IE11 October Cumulative Update or later," continued Mann and Pullen.
Microsoft also released the Web Application Compatibility Lab Kit, a toolset designed to help administrators take stock of their Web app catalogs and customize IE11 accordingly.
"This Lab Kit provides a walk-through of how to configure and set up Enterprise Mode in addition to Enterprise Site Discovery, the F12 developer tools, and the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager," said the Microsoft staffers. "The Lab Kit comes with VMs [virtual machines] for Windows 7 SP1 Enterprise (Evaluation) and Windows 10 Enterprise (Evaluation), or you can download a 'lite' version without the VMs."
And for organizations mulling a migration to Windows 10, Enterprise Mode has been updated for the new OS. "We're also making it easier for customers to upgrade to Windows 10, because Windows 10 supports the same version of Internet Explorer 11—along with all of the Enterprise Mode features—available on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1," stated Mann and Pullen. "At the same time, we've continued to make improvements to Enterprise Mode in the Windows 10 Fall Update and higher to simplify management and better support Microsoft Edge."