On Jan 12, 2016, IE11 will be the only supported version of IE on the most Windows versions. In this post, I will cover the essentials to jumpstart your migration. There are three main areas to plan for when you migrate: deployment, configuration, and compatibility.
There are several ways to deploy IE. Choose the method that works best for your environment. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a method
- When choosing a method, keep in mind prerequisites, number of reboots, language packs, and cumulative updates.
- If you are planning to leverage Enterprise Mode or Site Discovery functionality, you will need cumulative updates applied (June ‘15 or greater). Otherwise, this functionality will not work until the updates are applied.
The main deployment options are Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or similar management tool, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), and Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK).
- Internet Explorer 11 Deployment Guide
- Choose how to install Internet Explorer 11
- How to create an all-inclusive deployment package for Internet Explorer 11
The recommended way to configure and manage settings in IE11 is to use group policy and group policy preferences (GPP).
- Leverage the ADM template for Internet Explorer (inetres.admx). This contains the recommended default policies that apply to IE.
- Group policy preferences for IE are available as an Internet Settings Extension in the User Configuration section.
- If you used Internet Explorer Maintenance (IEM) in the past, GPP is its replacement. Use this reference to map IEM settings to GPP.
- When you test sites for compatibility, configuration can influence compatibility. Test in an environment that matches your planned production configuration.
A full list of GPO settings to configure IE is available in a downloadable Excel sheet. Filter the sheet on inetres.admx to view all the IE settings from version 6 through 11. A great GPO search engine that contains all ADM template settings including IE is available here.
In a perfect world, you would update all sites to modern standards as part of your Internet Explorer 11 migration. This would include all your existing line of business sites, 3rd party vendor sites, and external sites. This usually isn’t possible in a short amount of time. Therefore, you can leverage the compatibility features included in IE11 to mitigate your older web sites.
To quickly learn IE’s compatibility features, I highly recommend the following resources:
- View the Enterprise Mode Deep Dive from Ignite.
- Download the Web Application Compatibility Lab Kit. This contains an excellent overview presentation and documentation to understand, configure, and use Internet Explorer’s compatibility features.
Having a good understanding of your inventory of web sites in your enterprise is valuable preparation for a migration. Enterprise Site Discovery can help you collect information about what sites users are visiting.
What Compatibility Mitigation should I Use?
IE can “emulate” prior version of the browser using Document Modes, Compatibility View, and Enterprise Modes.
The following is a quick definition of each compatibility feature and how it can be controlled.
|Compatibility feature||Controlled using|
|Document Modes interpret webpages and will display them similar to older version of IE. The available modes are 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. Document mode 5 (Quirks mode) represents IE versions 1 through 6.||X-UA-Compatible meta tag|
|Compatibility view was introduced in IE8 to support sites designed for IE7 and earlier. It emulates document mode 7.||User defined list in IE’s Compatibility View settings
Microsoft defined list for the Internet zone
IT defined domain list using group policy
IT defined for the entire Intranet zone using group policy
|Enterprise Mode is a “high fidelity” emulation of IE8, IE7, or IE5.||Enterprise Mode site list|
Since there are several ways to control the compatibility features, IE prioritizes the different methods to allow you to “layer” the compatibility options. When planning your compatibility strategy, it’s important to understand the following is the priority list (highest to lowest):
|F12 Developer Tools||Development, Test|
|Enterprise Mode site list||IT|
|X-UA-Compatible meta tag||Development|
See How Internet Explorer Chooses Between Document Modes for more information.
For guidance on how to determine a document mode using F12 developer tools and adding it to your Enterprise Mode site list, see: Fix web compatibility issues using document modes and the Enterprise Mode site list
Modernizing Web Sites
It’s recommended to run in the highest document mode available. A good analogy would be purchasing a car. You will get the best performance, reliability, and security with a newer model car. Similarly, higher document modes give you the best performance, reliability and security. If you have web site that you want to update to modern standards, here are some resources to get you started.
- Pick a deployment technique that will deploy IE with the latest cumulative updates.
- Leverage the ADM templates and decide on your configuration settings early. Test using your planned production settings.
- Leverage Enterprise Mode site list to mitigate older sites.
- Keep in mind that compatibility features can be layered. Add only broken sites to the Enterprise mode site list.