New installation media for Windows 8.1 Update and Server 2012 R2 Update comes out in the Volume License Servicing Center today. We looked at the new administrative templates for group policy that accompany this Update. One of the key features in the update is Internet Explorer 11 Enterprise Mode, an enhanced compatibility mode that brings back some capabilities from IE’s older versions. Microsoft’s hope is that if hands are not tied by restrictions to certain versions of a browser, individuals will be able to upgrade their operating systems to the latest version.
Enterprise Mode in IE11 is disabled by default. You can enable it through Group Policy so individuals are able to turn it on for certain sites or you can create an XML file that lists sites that should be rendered in Enterprise Mode while the rest are rendered in Standards Mode. I found it better to copy the inetres.admx file from a Windows 8.1 Update computer (C:WindowsPolicyDefinitions) rather than the .adm file Microsoft has available for download.
Alternatively, instead of Group Policy there are registry keys that also control these two settings:
Enable users manual control, and specify where to receive reports that Enterprise Mode has been turned on.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE PoliciesMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMainEnterpriseMode, Enable= [URL to receive POST messages]
Specify Enterprise Mode site list URL.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE PoliciesMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMainEnterpriseMode, SiteList= [URL or file path to .xml file]
For my environment, I used the new GPO settings found under Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows ComponentsInternet Explorer to enable Enterprise Mode for sites I specify. The two settings are ‘Let users turn on and use Enterprise Mode from the Tools menu’ and ‘Use the Enterprise Mode IE website list’.
The .xml file is easy to create with Microsoft’s provided Enterprise Mode Site List Manager. You specify the sites you wish to be rendered in Enterprise Mode while allowing fairly granular control. After specifying your list, you can go to File, Save in order to export the .xml file.
Upload the .xml file to an accessible web server and put the URL path in the Group Policy setting. Now, when you visit one of the specified sites in IE11 on a computer receiving your group policy, you should see an icon to the left of the address bar that looks like two buildings. This indicates the site is rendered in Enterprise Mode. Hopefully it operates correctly and you are able to move computers that are stuck with old browsers to the latest and greatest.
For more details and resources for Internet Explorer 11, see this post from the IEBlog on MSDN.