This post is intended for IT administrators, but more technical users might also find it useful.
During Internet Explorer 8 development we paid very close attention to Line of Business (LOB) application compatibility for large enterprises. We want IE8 to be an easy drop-in replacement for earlier versions of IE, so that all users can benefit from the improved speed, security and ease of use of IE8.
Like Microsoft, your organization probably depends on a very large number of Line of Business applications – some commercial, some developed in-house – and the browser is an integral part of your IT infrastructure.
During the past year of IE8 development, we tested thousands of LOB applications here at Microsoft to ensure that an IE8 rollout in your organization will be easy – and we think that we’ve succeeded in making IE8 one of the easiest enterprise upgrades yet.
Starting at IE8 Beta 1, we rolled out IE8 to thousands of Microsoft employees and debugged any issues they encountered – a process known as dogfooding (as in eating your own dog food…). It wasn’t without glitches. At some points, Microsoft employees could not view their pay stubs online or schedule an office move. That let us work out the kinks before we shipped, and IE8 is now being rolled out to all employees at Microsoft.
What you need to know
Of course, you want to roll out new software only once your organization is ready. Use the IE8 Blocker Tool to block the IE8 auto-update while you test IE8.
Once you are ready to roll out IE8 via Microsoft Update, remember to roll out Compatibility View List update package along with the actual IE8 package. The Compatibility View package pre-populates the Compatibility View list, so your users will not have to manually set Compatibility View themselves if they encounter issues when browsing popular sites.
As noted previously, Microsoft will update and rerelease the Compatibility View list as needed – be on the lookout for updates to the Compatibility View list.
As for your intranet:
Internet Explorer will render websites in your intranet in IE7 compatibility view mode by default (unless, of course, the site itself or group policy sets a different mode).
This means that compared to IE7, IE8 should not have any major rendering differences on intranet pages. There are some differences, but they should be minor.
Of course, not all LOB applications are on the intranet anymore. If your users use an extranet site that only works in IE7 Compatibility View mode, you have two ways of fixing it:
If you own the site: You could change the site itself, and use the meta tag or the http header to tell IE8 to render the site in IE7 Compatibility View mode.
– or –
If you do not own the site: You could also use group policy to set the site to IE7 Compatibility View mode: Add the TLD of the site to the ‘Use Policy List of Internet Explorer 7 sites’ setting.
This setting is found in ‘Administrative templates, Windows Components, Internet Explorer, Compatibility View’ in the Computer or User section of the GPO.
Configuring IE settings
During your rollout testing, you might discover that you have to do some IE configuration to fix some issues.
In general, make as small a change as possible – Don’t change IE’s global settings for the intranet or Internet zone, as it could have a major impact on IE security or performance on a lot of sites.
The first thing to try is adding the site to the trusted sites zone – this fixes most issues with LOB applications that require more access to your machine. You can use group policy to add sites in your organization to the user’s trusted sites list.
Other things to know:
If you are admin of an Office SharePoint 2007 server, you’ll need to install Service Pack 2. (IE8 uses more connections than IE7 when downloading a site, and this may cause issues when you log out of Sharepoint and log in as another user.)
IE8 now shares session details between windows – so you can’t open two IE windows and log into the same site with different credentials.
If you want to do this, use File – New Session to open a new IE window and start a new IE session where you can use different credentials.
File upload control
For security reasons, IE no longer sends the full file path when you upload a file via the file upload control. To get this behavior back for example.com, add it to the trusted sites list.
Protected mode is now off for the Intranet zone in IE8 (this is similar to IE6 behavior). If this was an issue for your IE7 rollout, IE8 should be easier in this regard.
asp:menu (ASP.NET WebControls)
If you are using ASP.NET on a web page that is rendering in standards mode (in other words: not on your intranet) – remember to patch the ASP.NET control to work in standards mode. See this blog entry for more details.
Microsoft Office Publisher
If your organization is using Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 or Office Publisher 2007 to generate web content, you’ll need to republish some pages to make them render correctly in IE8. For example, navigation bars and other content might be missing on the page when viewed in IE8. See KB969705 for a workaround.
Visual Studio 2005/2008 wizards
Some Visual C++ wizards do not function correctly after IE8 is installed. To fix this issue, see this Visual C++ Team blog post.
Please let us know about your experiences with rolling out IE8 in your organization.
Internet Explorer Compatibility Program Manager