How to Discover and Configure Sites for IE Mode in the New Edge
We have just over a year until Internet Explorer hits another ‘major’ milestone on its way to riding into the sunset. June 15, 2022, to be exact. This is the date the desktop application of Internet Explorer 11 on supported versions of the Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) will go out of support and be retired. Versions 2004, 20H1, 20H2, and the brand new, 21H1. (Windows 10 version 1909 goes out of support fully in May of 2022. Plus, by next June, there will be others (21H2, 22H1, etc).
The most recent Windows 10 Insider build in the Dev channel (21387) has IE removed. So, as IT Pros, how in the world are you supposed to get in on this ‘IE Mode’ you’ve been hearing about? A new mode in Microsoft Edge that displays websites as normal tabs in Edge but uses the IE (Trident MSHTML) engine to display them is available. Sounds pretty slick, yeah? Well, up until now, there’s been a maze of sites and documentation to sift through and manual steps to perform to set up Enterprise IE Mode. But they recently announced a new assistant website that asks you questions and generates scripts for you, to handle a lot of the tedious legwork. Let’s read on and discover how this magic works!
Microsoft created IE Mode in Microsoft Edge for companies that still need the functionality of IE 11 for backward compatibility with sites that don’t render or function correctly in modern browsers. The goal here is to make the end-user experience as seamless and efficient as possible – ONE browser to worry about, not two. They’ve achieved this with IE Mode and are continuing to make the process for IT Pros easier and easier. Now, with a hard deadline a year away, they’re launching a new website with an easy-to-follow wizard process to get you going. If you’re using the more modern Microsoft EndPoint Configuration Manager (Intune) or still relying on Group Policy to handle your users/devices, the wizard will work for both! Browse to the ‘Configure IE Mode‘ link to get started. (You’ll need to have at least Global Reader privileges to use this website)
If you’re using Configuration Manager, leave the first tool dropdown as-is. If you’re using Group Policy in your AD environment (as I am), choose ‘Group Policy’ from the dropdown. I suggest checking the box to ‘Use a script to configure Enterprise Site Discovery’.
Click Next at the bottom. You’ll come to the ‘Configure your script’ page.
You can give your new GPO a name in the first field (e.g. ‘Enterprise Site Discovery’). Choose a Language for your script in the next field (e.g. If you’re using English, choose ‘en-US’). Then, for the ‘Site collection network path’, you’ll want to type in a share on a fileserver that users will have ‘write’ access to:
(e.g. \\ws22-fs03-core\Shares\SiteDiscovery\SiteCollection-%ComputerName%.xml). The ‘%ComputerName%’ field will auto-fill in the user’s computer name so you’ll have all the information sorted by the device.
Check the box ‘Specify which zones are used for data collection if you do NOT want to, by default, include them all (Internet, Intranet, etc.) In the ‘Site allow list’, instead of having your devices capture ALL sites that get triggered to needing Internet Explorer, you can specify URLs here separated by commas to restrict the data to only sites you know of or care about.
The last option is titled ‘Group policy target’. You can choose to configure the Group Policy settings at the Computer level or user level. Microsoft recommends Computer level.
Click Next and we’re now at the ‘Download and run your Enterprise Site Discovery configuration’ part of the process.
Click the ‘Download your script’ button and save it to one of your domain controllers (DC). You’ll then locate the script file, right-click on it and choose Run with PowerShell. Accept any prompts that come up and press any key to exit. No, there is no ‘anykey’ key on your keyboard. :)
Then, open the Group Policy Management console, expand the ‘Group Policy Objects’ heading, and drag the GPO (Remember what you ‘named’ it???) to the Organization Unit (OU) of your choice. Select OK.
Now, Microsoft recommends waiting 30 days for all the data to be collected. But, this largely depends on your environment of course. If you have 5 users, you could probably get all the data you need in a business day. If you have 6000 users (or 60,000!), you’ll want to allow more time. The data collection process you just created will start saving these sites in that share we set up. Don’t worry, more of the wizard will handle tabulating most everything, so, it won’t be THAT difficult to aggregate all this data. Here’s my share showing browsing data from my 2 client Windows 10 VMs:
Let’s keep going!
Site data cleanup
Now, some more PowerShell tricks/wizardry/dark magic…enter in the path of where you have your saved XML files and click Download your script. Save the script to the XML folder, right-click on it and select Run with PowerShell. This will generate a single .XML file (from the tens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands in that folder!) called DiscoveredSites.xml.
Now that your data collection process is complete, you can essentially turn off the Site Discovery process by removing the ‘Output path‘ from the Turn on Site Discovery XML output setting in the GPO.
Site data review
OK, now things get fun. :) Click the ‘Upload’ button and browse to your DiscoveredSites.xml file. The tool here will then identify sites that have potential compatibility issues to assist you in determining if they should be configured for IE Mode or stay ‘neutral.’
I’ll make it easy for demo purposes here; I’ll select all the sites and click ‘Set IE mode’ on the toolbar.
Now that we’re done, we’ll click ‘Preview and download site list.’ Be sure to click the ‘Download site list’ button at the bottom and save it someplace safe. Then, click Next.
Site list deployment
For clarity’s sake, I’m going through the steps above instead of using the Microsoft Edge Setup Guide. It’s up to you. I’ve completed the first section of steps under Turn on IE mode for Microsoft Edge.
Now, after completing the Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List path, you should have something similar to this:
I was able to confirm the settings are all working by browsing to ‘edge://compat/enterprise’ on my Windows 10 client VMs. I clicked the ‘Force update’ button and saw this.
Excellent! You’ve just set in motion, FINALLY, the last step to enabling IE Mode across your enterprise! (The true last steps are 1., Targeting one or more OUs with the new GPO we just created. And 2., TEST, TEST, TEST!) :)