With around three months until standalone Internet Explorer is officially retired on Windows, Microsoft has outlined a few key improvements it's made to IE mode in Edge.
Microsoft announced last May that it would retire the IE11 desktop application for most versions of Windows 10 on June 15, 2022, with the exception of "in-market" Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or Server Internet Explorer 11 desktop apps.
The new Microsoft browser is Chromium-based Edge, which has an IE mode within Edge for compatibility with sites and apps that relied on IE11.
IE mode in Microsoft Edge is supported through at least 2029 to give web developers eight years to modernize legacy apps and eventually remove the need for IE mode, Microsoft said last year.
But IE support itself within Windows is still ending on June 15 and, with that date coming up soon, Microsoft has addressed problems with IE mode in Edge in future scenarios when IE has been switched off.
Since May last year, developers have provided feedback, which led to Microsoft "restoring IE COM object calls and implementing bidirectional cookie sharing", Microsoft says in a blogpost.
"IE retirement is a major milestone in digital transformation for everyone," it notes.
The Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) is a distributed system for creating binary software components that can interact.
Microsoft notes that many developers have built apps and workflows that call IE COM objects as essential pieces of their functionality.
"Running these scenarios using IE, or a combination of IE and Microsoft Edge with IE mode, worked as expected – but once IE stand-alone was disabled, some of those scenarios inadvertently broke," Microsoft says.
On the latest Windows 11 and Windows 10 updates, IE COM objects "have been restored to their original functionality and will continue to work after the IE11 desktop application is disabled".
The other big change is that shared cookies between IE mode and Microsoft Edge sessions are now bidirectional, allowing developers to manually set cookies to share session information in both directions. This is an issue for workflows that jump between modern and legacy sites.
"Setting neutral sites unlocks [Single Sign On] scenarios to share credentials between engines and sites, and now you can set cookies to share session information bidirectionally as well," Microsoft notes.
Microsoft explains the problem: "Previously, cookies in IE mode passed session information from sites using the modern engine to sites using the legacy engine, but the same couldn't be said for the reverse. Having cookies share information in either direction becomes particularly important as you modernize to a larger mix of modern and legacy sites."
Microsoft points to National Australia Bank's (NAB) migration from IE to Edge with IE mode. NAB is a 'big four' Australian bank with 34,000 employees.
Previously, [NAB] employees relied on an internal guide to know whether to use Edge or IE for which apps, creating a clear obstacle to them providing efficient service to customers.
Greg Farmer, general manager of Workplace Technology for NAB, said that moving solely to Edge, with IE mode, boosted employee productivity by "thousands of hours per day".