Internet Explorer 11 to get new 'enterprise mode'

Internet Explorer 11 to get new 'enterprise mode'

Summary: Microsoft is said to be working to add a new 'enterprise mode' feature to IE11 to try to help Windows 7 business users with IE8 dependencies get 'unstuck.'


As Microsoft has seen with Windows XP, it's not just users' operating system dependencies that can keep them from upgrading; it's their browser dependencies, too.


The same way that IE6 was the browser that Microsoft built into Windows XP -- and around which many business customers standardized -- IE8 is the browser variant that Microsoft integrated into Windows 7, which is the newer version of Windows favored by many business users. Similar to the case with Windows XP, many businesses have built and certified line-of-business apps specifically for the Windows 7/IE8 combination.

Here's the catch: Even though Microsoft treats IE as part of Windows, it's also still an independent piece of software. Microsoft has rolled out subsequent IE releases (IE9, 10 and most recently, 11) that can run on Windows 7. But not every enterprise is willing or able to move to these newer IE variants, in part because their companies have standardized on Windows 7/IE8.

This situation becomes especially problematic for Microsoft and its customers as Microsoft rolls out new software and services that no longer support the older IE variants. For example, Office 2013 and Office 365 don't support IE8. If a company is stuck on IE8, its admins might understandbly be reticent to move to Office 365 if IE8 isn't supported.

There may be a Microsoft-made solution to this dilemma, however. Sources say it's a new IE feature known as EMIE.

Enterprise Mode for IE (EMIE), as it's referred to internally, is supposedly going to be a new feature of IE11. According to my sources, EMIE will allow businesses to specify which sites should be loaded in IE8 compatibility mode and which don't need it. Users who need IE8 to view certain intranet sites and internal apps would still be able to move to IE11 on Windows 7 (or Windows 8.x) thanks to the new compatibility mode functionality. But they still would be able to make use of all the rest of IE11's features the rest of their browser needs.

I've asked Microsoft whether the plan is to include EMIE support in Windows 8.1 Update 1, or if this capability will be rolled out separately at some other date. No word back so far from the Softies.

Update: The IE team had no comment on this post, according to a spokesperson.

Update No. 2: @AngelWZR is confirming that "Enterprise Mode" is built into the leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 build from January 17. It is part of the built-in IE 11.0.3, he says.

"Enterprise Mode helps improve the compatibility of websites identified by your company," according to information in the Windows 8.1 Update 1 files, he says. But the feature is currently locked, he reports.

Update No. 3 (February 3): @WithinRafael also confirms the Enterprise Mode feature and finds it to be unlocked in a leaked build of Windows 8.1 Update 1.

Topics: IT Policies, Browser, Cloud, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • um... Compatibility View?

    How is this going to be different than Compatibility View we've had since... IE9?
    • Compat View isn't actually perfectly back-compatible in IE11

      From IE's own site:
      Document Mode is only an approximation to the actual behavior of older versions of Internet Explorer, and should not be used to determine whether a site works properly in an older browser.

      • so...

        sounds to me like they're just making Compatibility View more robust and putting a new name on it... Seems like something your average IE user would also want, hopefully that's how it plays out
    • That used to be a solution

      But they basically neutered it in IE11. IE now basically ignores the X-UA metatag, so you can say your site is IE8 only until the cows come home, IE just ignores it.

      This is a major impediment to deploying IE11 in business.
      • untrue

        IE 11 supports both the X-UA-Compaitble META tag and HTTP header to trigger legacy modes. You can verify which mode your site is being rendering in the F12 tools.
    • Dirty words Compatibility view

      It used to be that you would just find Compatibility View and select display everything in CV. As much as IE has advanced, its history keeps it living in the past.
  • Great!

    Now we just need to get users off Windows XP and maybe I can start building line of business sites without having to work within the restrictions of IE8/6.

    I sincerely hope Microsoft pulls this feature off right and correctly the first time. I need my clients to be able to trust that something like this will work. Compatibility View's issues already have them disillusioned.
    • What I find amazing

      is that companies don't seem have learnt from the previous round, where many were stuck on IE6 and couldn't move forward.

      What do they make everything IE8 only? IE8+ are much more standards compliant, they should have written them more generically, so that they work with multiple browsers / multiple versions of IE, then MS wouldn't need to keep building this bloat into their software!
  • This is great news.

    We want to move to IE10/11 but we have so many legacy sites.
    • Yep.

      In my hospital business, we (depressingly) have many government and healthcare web sites that are beyond our control. And we all know how slow governments move!
      • Not all government.

        My local county IT department wants to move forward, but the State sites that, some agencies are required to report to are often held back.
        A lot of the problem is that here in NY State, there really isn't any central IT department. Each department has its own. Here in the county where I work, we have an actual IT department, and we can keep things relatively upgraded/updated, however, with the budget constraints, this is getting harder to do year after year.
  • Internet Explorer 11 to get new 'enterprise mode'

    Time for the enterprise to update their web based apps to be more compatible with IE.
    • Time for enterprise to update apps to follow web standards

      Get rid of applications written for old "microsoft IE standards".
    • Like Youtube?...

      ... which IE 11 has made unwatchable on Windows 7...
    • Ummm, nope

      Businesses are there to make money. Spending lots of money continually rewriting working applications / web sites / etc because there is a new release just does not happen. Especially in todays economic times.

      So how about vendors learn their customers and bring out things like new versions of IE that work with existing web sites. Wow, a novel idea.
  • Time to Ditch...

    ...IE compatibility in LOB apps and code to web standards.
  • Not sure if it is good, bad or will be ignored too

    Compatibility mode was supposed to solve this problem. Instead enterprises use compatibility mode as an excused for not fixing broken applications, if we are lucky. IT departments need to think a little smarter. It is OK to automatically upgrade and a best practice. Compatibility mode can be achieved via a simple X-UA-Compatible meta tag or a custom HTTP header.

    The story is a little more revealing because upgrading many sites does not require that much work. It could be as simple as replacing an obsolete DOCTYPE with . Other issues relate to browser sniffing instead of feature detection. There are a few other common simple issues. Sure there are 3rd party applications that honestly should just be scrapped because they are so bad and the vendor, charging vast amounts of money each year, does not care to update their monster.

    This is a real issue and one of the reasons Internet Explorer has a bad reputation. Enterprises have chosen to paint themselves in corner, tightly coupling themselves to a time before the mortgage crisis.
    • edit

      It was supposed to have an HTML tag that got removed. replaced with !DOCTYPE html
    • ^ This

    • No dispute...

      ...of the fact that web designers and web app developers need to stop being lazy and start using modern standards.

      However, many enterprises have specialty apps that simply can't be upgraded, whether it's technical limitations or financial limitations, so it's NOT bad to offer these capabilities. The problem with CV has always been the fact that you can only specify it at the domain level. So I can't specify that is CV and is not. It's or bust.