In our organization we always had (and probably will) a few internal and external systems, which are working best with Internet Explorer. Better yet, with IE9. Actually it is even more complicated as we also had to enable Compatibility Mode for some sites via Group Policy for them to actually work properly with IE9 (i guess they were designed to work with IE7 or such..). While evaluating upgrade to IE11 we have found out, that in many cases standard IE11 won’t work. I have read before about the upcoming Enterprise Mode feature (if i remember correctly, it was enabled with an update in August of 2015, so if you install clean IE11 upgrade, it won’t have it until you install all the later updates from Windows Update or WSUS). So, after a lot of testing and trial i have made all our systems work with IE11 (well, almost, some of them still have minor issues). And i will share my findings here.
First, you need to download the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager (schema v.2) and install it. I have started using it since v.1 and then had to upgrade my xml file to v.2 (actually, i just recreated it, as there were just a few sites). v.2 has updated xml structure and has more settings (like “Open in” and support for MS Edge). It doesn’t matter where to install. I have it on my workstation, so it is faster to open it and edit settings. You also can run it with limited rights user as you only have to have permissions in the folder you will be saving the settings file to and it is not making any changes to your system. You can of course do without the manager and create and tweak the xml manually, but i usually like to use GUI tools when possible 🙂 After launching the app you can start adding sites and changing settings for them. You can only add domains, e.g. somedomain.com or thing.domain.com, you can’t add individual URLs. Same as it works in the Internet Explorer Compatibility Settings list. But in this case you can also specify what IE engine version should be used with a particular domain. If you don’t want to change the engine, you can leave it at Default Mode. Since v.2 you can also specify should the site be opened with IE or Edge browser. In that case when a user tries to open the site in the opposite browser, it will automatically open it in a new window of another browser. This way your users won’t be able to open your legacy systems with the Edge browser and there won’t be any complaints about sites not working fo some reason.
After you have added all the sites you want, it may look like this:
Then you should go to File, select Save to XML and save it to some location. It should be a place which all computers on your network could reach (e.g. Windows share). The content of saved xml file will look like this:
This is a pretty easy structure and as i’ve said, you can edit it manually. Just remember to increase the version number by one in the first line after you do changes. As browsers will only load the updates, if this version has increased.
Now you need to point all the browsers in your network to that location. Location is stored in the registry. So i have created a reg file, which imports the needed keys and i run this file on computer Startup via Group Policy (a simple batch file). The command is: regedit.exe /S enable-IE11EM.reg
The content of enable-IE11EM.reg file:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
One key is for IE, another one for the Edge. This way the browser will know where to look for the list of sites for the Enterprise Mode. IE and Edge check for the updated list of files around 1 minute after the browser is launched. You can check if it already pulled the list by going to about:compat address and deselecting Microsoft and regular Compatibility list view. It then should show the same list as in above image.
When IE7 or IE8 Enterprise Mode is enabled, IE will show a blue icon with houses at the start of the address bar (like in the first screenshot in this article). It also shows the Enterprise Mode menu entry in the Tools menu, so you can manually enable/disable it. It doesn’t show any indication for other modes. And that’s my main beef with this feature. Lack of indication. That’s why i have whatismybrowser.com or similar sites on the list, so i can check how it identifies the browser, to see if the new setting is already working. Though this is not a 100% prove that the actual site is already loaded with the mode you need. Maybe MS will add some kind of indication about what mode is in use for a particular site in the future (like an icon with text in the statusbar). Though i don’t have high hopes.