Stay up to date with Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft is taking an important step towards helping businesses stay up to date with the latest software, services, and devices. Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, announced today as an update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, provides better compatibility for older versions of Internet Explorer and tools to manage which Web apps use it.

Businesses can benefit from the modern web standards, better performance, and increased security of our latest browser, while extending existing investments in legacy web apps.  And by decreasing dependencies on older versions, Internet Explorer is helping customers stay up-to-date with Windows 8.1, services like Office 365, and devices like the Surface Pro 2.

Businesses can benefit from the modern Web standards, better performance, and increased security of our latest browser, while extending existing investments in legacy Web apps. And by decreasing dependencies on older versions, Internet Explorer is helping customers stay up-to-date with Windows 8.1, services like Office 365, and devices like the Surface Pro 2.

How does Enterprise Mode help you stay up-to-date?

Many businesses are experiencing tension between today’s Web apps and services—which may require modern standards like HTML5 and CSS3—and older Web apps and services, designed for older versions of Internet Explorer. Legacy apps often represent a significant investment and have long, multi-year lifecycles, effectively making these customers dependent on an older version of Internet Explorer until they can upgrade these Web apps to modern Web standards.

Introduced in 2009, Internet Explorer 8 was the first browser available on Windows 7 and included innovative features like Compatibility View for older Web sites. Because it also ran on Windows XP, many customers and developers chose to standardize on Internet Explorer 8 to help ease the migration to Windows 7. According to Net Applications, Internet Explorer 8 still has more than 20% of the desktop browser market share; despite the fact that IE9, IE10, and IE11 have superseded IE8, many customers still rely on Internet Explorer 8 to run their business.

By providing better backward compatibility for Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 11 with Enterprise Mode is intended to help break this dependency and provide the best of both worlds: A modern, up-to-date browser that helps customers extend their existing investments in older Web apps.

How does Enterprise Mode provide better compatibility?

In designing Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, engineering reviewed compatibility problems reported by customers and found clusters of similar issues. Some of the areas targeted by Enterprise Mode include:

  • User agent string differences. Many legacy Web apps use browser detection, not today’s best practice of feature detection. By replicating the original Internet Explorer 8 user agent string, Enterprise Mode works for sites that fail if they can’t recognize IE8 as the browser.
  • ActiveX controls and other binaries. Some ActiveX controls silently fail if they query the browser version and get a response they don’t expect, so Enterprise Mode appeases these by mimicking IE8’s responses. In testing, customers report that many of these ActiveX controls “just work” in Enterprise Mode.
  • Deprecated functionality. Internet Explorer 8 still contained some vestiges of proprietary functionality, such as CSS Expressions which was used to place objects dynamically on a page. This functionality was removed in later versions of Internet Explorer, but some legacy Web apps used this to place buttons and other elements. Enterprise Mode brings back some deprecated features, including CSS Expressions.

Before and after with Enterprise Mode IE
A Web app works properly when viewed in Internet Explorer 11 with Enterprise Mode on the right. Note the Enterprise Mode icon, circled in the address bar.

  • Pre-caching and pre-rendering. Many modern browsers like Internet Explorer 11 pre-cache and pre-render pages, to make browsing more fluid. When you click on a pre-cached link, one tab disappears while the pre-rendered content tab appears in its place. To a legacy navigation controls, this behavior is confusing—so Enterprise Mode turns it off.

When Internet Explorer 11 renders a page in Enterprise Mode, numerous configuration and code changes eliminate common compatibility issues in these and other areas. Also, by targeting Internet Explorer 8—and IE8’s Compatibility View—Enterprise Mode also provides some benefit for sites designed for even older versions, such as Internet Explorer 7. This is emulation, not virtualization; Enterprise Mode provides a better emulation of IE8 within IE11, while avoiding many performance, security, and other problems associated with running older Internet Explorer 8 binaries.

Speaking of performance, we’ve made a lot of browser improvements in the last five years; Internet Explorer 11 is dramatically faster than Internet Explorer 8. Web apps load twice as fast, and Enterprise Mode takes advantage of network improvements, redesigned script and layout engines, and hardware-accelerated graphics. While we believe that real-world performance matters when evaluating a browser, the JavaScript benchmark results below highlight the significant difference between Internet Explorer 11 with Enterprise Mode and the original Internet Explorer 8. Try it with your own apps, and see for yourself.

JavaScript performance in enterprise mode is slightly slower than IE11 but still much faster than IE8.

Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11 may not fix all compatibility problems, but does work for many of the most common issues. Most importantly, this is an area of continued investment for Microsoft and is a significant step towards helping customers stay up-to-date with the latest version of Internet Explorer.

How is Enterprise Mode managed?

Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11 is turned off by default. When configured with a list of legacy Web apps, IE11 will switch in and out of Enterprise Mode dynamically as users surf the Web. Internet Explorer provides a seamless browsing experience, so users don’t have to worry about which browser to use for which sites.

Corporate IT controls which sites and paths are rendered in Enterprise Mode via a centrally-managed XML list or group of lists. For example, can be set to use Enterprise Mode, while may be set to use modern “Edge” standards mode. A new Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool is available for managing lists, as shown below.

Enterprise Mode IE site list manager
Enterprise Mode Site List Manager, showing CRM and ERP systems with new (Default) and legacy (Enterprise) paths.

Two registry keys, which can be set via new Group Policies, enable/disable Enterprise Mode and provide a local link or URL path to the XML list. Different divisions or locations, for example, can be configured to use different lists.

  • Registry Key
  • Function

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode] “Enable” = “” | {URL:port}

  • This setting lets you decide whether users can turn on Enterprise Mode for Web sites with compatibility issues. Optionally, this policy also lets you specify where to get reports (through POST messages) whenever a user turns on or off Enterprise Mode.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode]

“SiteList” = {File or URL}

  • This setting lets you specify where to find the list of Web sites you want opened using Enterprise Mode. This list can be maintained using the new Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool.

Registry location showing enterprise mode configuration.
Registry keys for enabling Enterprise Mode and pointing to the managed site list.

When enabled, a tool menu option enables end-users to force a page into Enterprise Mode. This can be made available to all users, or select users for testing purposes. This same registry key can be used to collect manual overrides. By configuring the “Enable” key with a valid URL and port, Internet Explorer will initiate a simple POST to the supplied address whenever a user enables or disables Enterprise Mode. This effectively helps customers crowd-source lists of compatible Web apps from their own users, which may decrease triage and testing costs.

To learn more about Enterprise Mode

To learn more about Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, visit the Internet Explorer TechNet site and view the Build session, Better App Compat with Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11.

Documentation and Other Resources

Enterprise Mode Site List Manager

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2

Internet Explorer 11 provides increased performance, improved security, and support for the modern technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 that power today’s Web sites and services. By adding better backward compatibility with Enterprise Mode, Internet Explorer 11 now helps customers stay up to date with the latest browser—and facilitates using the latest software, services, and devices.

— Kevin Miller, Program Manager Lead, Internet Explorer

— Fred Pullen, Product Marketing Manager, Internet Explorer

Comments (50)

  1. Prior Semblance says:

    I like the sounds of this, the sooner IE8 is killed off the better.

  2. Alan Burchill says:

    The link to the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager is not working… can you confirm?

  3. Philip Hofstetter says:

    Please provide a way for sites to opt out of this. I've already seen too many companies enabling various compatibility modes for our web app even though it's not needed at all. Now you add one more, we can't even opt out of.

    This means that we have to test against even more browser/OS combinations (ie in enterprise mode on win7 and 8) and that we have to keep supporting IE8 forever because any modern ie can be put into an IE8 mode with no way for us to opt out

  4. Beppo says:

    "Internet Explorer 8 still contained some vestiges of proprietary functionality, such as CSS Expressions which was used to place objects dynamically on a page."

    Oww, it hurts.

  5. TBA says:

    I cant access the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager either

  6. Chuu says:

    How does this improve on Compatibility View?

  7. Piotrek Koszuliński says:

    You know that April Fools' day was 2 days ago, right? I'm a developer of a big JS-based web component and I'm seriously terrified now. When for a simple web page compatibility mode may make sense, because it helps to render it, for a web app it's a totall disaster. Compatibility mode means a new browser, with new set of bugs and quirks. If I were to choose, I would pick IE8 then, because I already know it. But no… There will be an "Enterprise IE mode" (IE11eeeee….). I'm really curious to see it and I still hope that it won't be as bad as it sounds. Keep up the good job of breaking the web!

  8. Michel says:

    This isn't for consumers or public web sites, from the description users can't just hit your site with it. Looks like it needs group policy, do you really think some IT department is going to manually add your site to their list?? too much work.

    If you have a web component, can't you just tell your customers to use the default IE11 mode? Bad logic to say 'I know IE8 so we should keep it around'.  kill it already!!!

  9. Mathias says:

    What's the difference between using enterprise mode and setting the document mode to IE8?

    Where can I find a detailed description of all API and behavior differences between Enterprise Mode, Edge Mode and IE 8 mode?

  10. Philippe says:

    When you see that Dynamics CRM 2011 doesn't run smoothly with IE11 at all…. you understand now why you read crm in the sample screenshot above.

    When CRM will be refactored (I guess CRM2015) thie IE11e will not exist anymore. 🙂

  11. John says:

    What's not clear in this article is how to update your computer to enable this functionality. Most of us will probably have to wait until April 8 for Windows Updates to be released.

    If you have an MSDN subscription, you can install Windows 8.1 Update 1 from MSDN to enable this functionality.

    If you are running Windows 7 with IE 11, I am guessing you will need to install KB2932269 first.

    Also, I have no idea where or when Sys Admins can obtain the updated Group Policy templates.

  12. Stefan says:

    Why the hell is the Enterprise Mode managed via a "centrally-managed XML" and not directly in the GPO???

    It worked fine with the Compatibility View List in the past….Does not make sense at all!

    You are getting very inconsistent Microsoft!

  13. Hugo says:

    Look Internet Explorer, we need to talk. It doesn't matter how much you've changed, how you are now trying to make things right after all the years of pain you put me through. I know you are sorry and and you are trying to make it easy for me to cope with your dark past but I'm with another browser now, a browser that cares about me as a developer and encourages me to try new things instead of crippling my potential.

    I would like to say that is not you, it's me but to tell you the truth it is totally you and I just can't trust you anymore. Please go away, leave me and the internet alone and never ever come back.

  14. Kevin says:

    You're the reason why small web shops have to spend so much extra time to make websites work in all of your bad browsers.  Here's an idea: stop making web browsers and let the people wearing the big-boy pants do it.  I'm sure all of the senior citizens unwittingly using your antiquated browsers will be distraught.  As for the businesses and medical industries stuck with web-apps stuck on IE6/7/8, it's also your fault that you developed an ecosystem that worked so closely with particular browser engines. Just stop it, Microsoft.

  15. Esben says:

    This is great, now my company can upgrade to IE11 🙂

  16. Charles Morris [MSFT] says:

    Thanks for the reports on the Site List Manager tool – the download is not available but will be soon. The post has been updated for now and we'll add the link back when it's available. Apologies for the confusion.

  17. lolz says:

    Funny to see the lame anti-IE arguments.  They really nailed you at  

    Hope to see answers to some of the (real) questions from MS.

  18. Eric says:

    Funny people are complaining about people developing specifically for IE when it was at one point 90%+ of the market. At that point it would have been pointless

  19. Jack Ludwig certified 21st century sesquipedalian says:

    What does "pre-caching" and pre-rendering mean? As well as caching and rendering. Definition of terms for new W8.1 users might be of GREAT benefit. Therefore one of the list of language selection/options ought to be English (in the vernacular or W8.1 for Dummies)

  20. Jack Ludwig IBM'er CA 1964-'67 says:

    WTH is deprecated functionality in IE 11; W8.1; RPG or whatever?

  21. pre says:

    Precaching and prerendering described at…/dn265039(v=vs.85).aspx.

  22. Jeronimo says:

    It seems that IE11 Enterprise Mode is most of all a best-effort solution for sites or enterprise applications which will not run fine on IE11. So those enterprise applications such as Siebel that require some ActiveX will likely work. But Microsoft cannot guarantee this, so they will not extent their support for ActiveX while using IE11 Enterprise Mode I assume? Siebel customers would love the "escape" of IE11 EM to win some time to switch over to a HTML5 UI. But since MS is not supporting ActiveX – Oracle will not support any customers using Siebel HI (ActiveX) on IE11 EM 🙁 I read in this statement "best-effort" in-between many of the lines. Am I correct, or maybe not?

  23. aaa says:

    Although a new function is also good, please carry out a bug and fault somehow or other.

    Otherwise, it is not upgradable to IE11.

    It is troubled!

  24. Yannick says:

    I hope that IE12 kicks out the compatibility mode, it's prety useless, since IE9, 10 and 11 render very well, and only anoying for modern websites that force IE to use an older version, most of the times breaking websites.

  25. Jeffois says:

    Our organisation has a large number of legacy "web-apps" as well as an impending roll-out of Office Web Apps & SP2013 in the next couple of months. This development, while not 100% perfect means I can probably spend some of the massive budget set aside for IE8 upgrade/migration (main costs expected were on testing and virtualising IE8) on something of more value to our business.

    Personally, I welcome our new Enterprise Mode overlords.

  26. Tom says:

    Does anyobe know if "IE11 with Enterprise Mode" will be compatible with Windows Server 2008 R2 with RDS?

  27. Randall says:

    I still need to test sites in IE8, or at least something vaguely IE8-like. Am I reading right that you'll need to do some registry futzing (directly or via a manager app) to see sites in IE8 mode in IE11–it won't be an option in the F12 dev tools or anything?

  28. Fráncico Gomez says:

    Es mucho mejor que la versión anterior les felicito

  29. o0MattE0o says:

    I just tested this on my Windows 8.1 Update 1 test PC and enabled Enterprise Mode and this still did not work?

    I had to then put the site into compatibility mode as well to get the site to work as it dose for IE8/9!

  30. Jonas Klose says:


    If you're  switching it on via Registry or Group Policy, you can use the F12 Tools after you've selected the Enterprise Mode in the Tools menu. It's hidden by default, so that inexperienced users don't play with it and use it to render YouTube. This was sadly the case in the piloting program MS did before releasing it now.

  31. Jim Johnson says:

    Since the tool is not released, at least a sample file would be nice.  I tried to emulate the file format on TechNet but it doesn't work.

  32. Dan Orum says:

    The tool is located here –…/details.aspx Also, the documentation on TechNet shows the site list xml format.…/dn640696

  33. Ron Grover says:

    Not having the ability to have a central Enterprise Mode list in a GPO is going to be a deal breaker for my organization.

  34. FPullen says:

    @Tom:  The update to Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Server 2008 R2 is now available, but we encourage you to test your environment thoroughly before deploying any browser in an RDS/TS environment.

    @Ron:  The original Group Policies for IE7 and Quirks modes are at a domain level, but we received feedback from customers that they wanted more granularity than that.  Setting the entire "" domain wasn't good enough; they wanted to set "" in Enterprise Mode, "" in default mode, and "" in Enterprise Mode.  We were also asked to support non-domain-joined machines, which meant placing the entire list in GPOs wouldn't work.  Using regkeys controlled by GPs seemed like a good compromise to most of the customers with whom we worked.

  35. fr says:

    Any idea when IE11 for Windows 7 will come to WSUS, now that we have enterprise mode more companies might want to start using it.

  36. Tadd Axon says:

    OK…  This…/dn321453.aspx shows the GPO settings available to manage Enterprise Mode. So there's that.  The site list manager is available here…/details.aspx and the article on how to wrangle sites with the list manager is here…/dn640701.aspx

  37. Ray says:

    Hello, what specific version of IE11 on Windows 7 will support Enterprise Mode?  I have it working on Windows 8.1 update 1 with IE11 version 11.0.9600.17031 however on Windows 7 Ultimate with IE11 version 11.0.9600.16659 Enterprise Mode does not appear in Group Policy.  Adding the registry entry for Enable does not enable Enterprise Mode.

  38. Dave says:

    Where is there documentation on how to configure the data-logging server? I can find no information on this other than the GPO/Registry path to tell EMIE where to send the data plus a reference to these being "POST" messages. I'm assuming it's a simple IIS webserver configuration, but would like to know if there is documentation on how to set this up and I have not found it on TechNet.

  39. Matt says:

    Is there any way to have the .xml list of sites local on the PC instead of on a web server.  It might be fine for your internal PCs but as soon as you have one remote person the solution breaks if they don't have vpn.

    Does microsoft really expect someone to put a list of their websites out on a public facing web server so all their clients can get to it?  

  40. @matt says:

    Why would the webserver need to be public facing?  You can run IIS or a webserver of your choice on an internal server or a PC if absolutely necessary.

  41. @matt says:

    Oops sorry missed the first part of your comment, can see why that wouldn't be ideal.  Have you tried setting a local path yet?  Might need to use file: as protocol.

  42. Tom says:

    If a site has an HTML 5 doctype ( < ! DOCTYPE html > ), and if an entire domain containing that site is configured for Enterprise Mode, will IE 11 ignore the doctype and render in IE 8 mode, or will it adapt and ignore Enterprise Mode for that site?

  43. John says:

    All I can say, is what a cluster. Microsoft cannot blame anyone but itself for all the compatibility issues surrounding Internet Explorer.

    Its no wonder because we have IE 8 still going strong, IE 9 is the last version for Vista users, and many running Windows 7 already use Chrome or Firefox as they already tired of the issues starting with IE 10 and now IE 11. Don't get me wrong, I praise Microsoft for finally coming clean with standards for Internet Explorer. But it has not been a tidy process to say the least.

  44. Bruce says:

    I for one do not understand why the configuration to turn this on is not a simple list in a GPO like it is when we added to a trusted site list, or compatibility list.  Is this because someone thought there should be a web server for reporting, so hey lets but the configuration there too?  Oh and super QA and this…/2956283 – the admx/adml files have time stamps from Jan and Feb, yet if we turn it on with this update IE11 crashes?  No one tried this before releasing it?

  45. Jesse says:

    This doesnt work. I've tried the registry key and there is no option under the local security policy.   I'm running 11.0.9600.16521. Any ideas?

  46. Bruce says:

    @Jesse – the current version is 11.0.9600.17041CO, at least on my Win7 x64 test pc.  You do not have the correct version to support Enterprise Mode.

    What I am curiious about now is when the IEAK will syncronize with the current version.  When I create a new package today it still brings down an older version that needs to be patched after we deploy it.

  47. Brian says:

    Does this work better than the compatibility mode of IE 10? From my experience the compatibility mode of IE 10 doesn't always work.

  48. kaputeni valentinus says:

    Its so good…


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  50. Wayne Bellinger says:

    Can you please updated this article to include Microsoft Edge support?