Internet Explorer 11 Turns Back the Clock to IE 7

Microsoft is making it easier for businesses to ditch their vintage browsers by enabling support for Web applications that were built for IE 7.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11

All eyes are on Microsoft's next-generation Project Spartan browser for Windows 10, but the company isn't ignoring organizations with legacy Web applications.

As part of the April 2015 update for Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11), Microsoft has added new features aimed at improving compatibility with sites coded for IE 7, Microsoft Program Manager Deen King-Smith and Senior Product Marketing Manager Fred Pullen, announced in a joint blog post. Introduced during last year's Build conference in San Francisco, the Enterprise Mode feature in IE 11 offered businesses a way to adopt the company's newer Windows operating systems and Web browser software without breaking compatibility with IE 8 apps.

Now, Microsoft is turning back the clock further with a new IE 7 Enterprise Mode.

"If you put a site in IE 7 Enterprise Mode, it will automatically use Enterprise Mode with IE 7 document mode if there's a DOCTYPE in the markup, or fall back to IE 5 document mode if there isn't a DOCTYPE," wrote King-Smith and Pullen. DOCTYPE, short for document type declaration, determines which version of HTML should be used to process a Web file or document.

"This higher-fidelity emulation will help customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 easier than ever before," they added.

IE 7 was released eight years ago in 2006, what many consider an eternity in the quickly evolving Web scene. Unlike most consumers, businesses are generally wary about adopting newer browsers over compatibility concerns. Enterprise Mode in IE 11 is a compromise that enables businesses to modernize to newer versions of the Windows operating system while maintaining access to their legacy Web apps.

"As part of this change, we are renaming the original Enterprise Mode to 'IE 8 Enterprise Mode' to distinguish between the two high-fidelity emulation modes," the Microsoft staffers said. And as Windows 10 approaches, 'IE 11 Document Mode' is replacing 'Edge Mode,' to explicitly call Internet Explorer 11" on the new OS.

Microsoft also updated Enterprise Site Discovery for IE 11, a feature that allows administrators to build an inventory of critical business Web applications. "The April update adds XML as an output option that can be used exclusively or in conjunction with the existing WMI [Windows Management Instrumentation] output and enables management via group policy," they wrote. "This update complements the March 2014 update by also bringing this functionality to IE 8, IE 9 and IE 10."

To complement the XML exporting feature, Microsoft released four new group policies that offer control over the feature's privacy settings and output. In addition, the Enterprise Site List Manager tool has been updated to support the bulk import of XML files to speed up the creation of site-compatibility lists.

"This update will allow an IT pro to use the output of Enterprise Site discovery to directly seed their Enterprise Mode Site List," King-Smith and Pullen wrote. "This couples the ability to assess the problem with Enterprise Site Discovery and remediate compatibility issues with Enterprise Mode Site List by putting sites into a mode where they work."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...