With the end of support for Internet Explorer (IE) in June 2022, companies will have to switch to a modern browser. In many cases, it will be Microsoft Edge because it offers some compatibility features. First and foremost, it can use the integrated IE engine to open legacy pages or applications. Group policies offer several options for this.

On June 15, 2022, Microsoft is getting serious about phasing out IE. This project has dragged on for a long time and has failed mainly because, in the past, many web applications were tailored to IE and do not run properly on a modern browser.

These are often internal line-of-business applications that can only be ported to current web standards with considerable effort. To enable companies to use them even after IE support ends, Microsoft provides several methods for opening URLs in IE.

Configure the type of IE integration ^

The end of IE, therefore, only affects the browser as a standalone application, starting with Windows 10 20H2. In Windows 11, IE will not be available as a standalone browser from the beginning. However, Microsoft will support IE in down-level versions of the operating system until the end of their life cycle.

Therefore, users can still specify, via GPO, how they want to integrate IE into Edge. In the corresponding setting under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates Policy definitions > Microsoft Edge, you can choose between the options Internet Explorer 11 and Internet Explorer mode.

Until IE support ends you can launch it from Edge as a standalone application

Until IE support ends you can launch it from Edge as a standalone application

The first of the two opens pages in its own IE window, while IE mode runs the old browser engine within Edge. However, after support ends, the first option will no longer be available, and IE will always run in the context of Edge, no matter what you choose here.

Redirecting URLs ^

After a successful migration to Microsoft Edge, you will want to ensure that users only open those pages in IE that require the legacy browser. This goal can be achieved by specifying these URLs and blocking IE for all other addresses.

An easy-to-manage method is to activate the setting Send all intranet sites to Internet Explorer. URLs are affected by this setting if they are located in the IE zone Local Intranet. In addition, there are other criteria, such as pure hostnames without domains or pages, that are opened, bypassing the proxy.

A rough method for maintaining backward compatibility is to open all intranet pages in IE.

A rough method for maintaining backward compatibility is to open all intranet pages in IE.

Using the Enterprise Mode Site List ^

If you only need IE for certain pages, then you store their URL in a so-called Enterprise Mode Site List. This is an XML file that is then distributed via a group policy.

Distribute the list of URLs to be opened automatically in IE via GPO

Distribute the list of URLs to be opened automatically in IE via GPO

The relevant setting can also be found in the Microsoft Edge container and is called Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List. If you activate it, then you enter the path as a URL or in UNC format.

To avoid creating this XML file manually, Microsoft offers a tool called Enterprise Mode Site List Manager. There, you add a URL using the Add button and select one of the few options to configure its execution in IE.

Create a URL list with Enterprise Mode Site List Manager

Create a URL list with Enterprise Mode Site List Manager

Once the list is complete, you might wonder where the file is stored because you can't specify the path when you save it. The file is called SiteList.xml and can be found under

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\EMIESiteListManager.

The Enterprise Mode Site List Manager saves the URL list in the required XML format

The Enterprise Mode Site List Manager saves the URL list in the required XML format

Forwarding all pages to Edge ^

Once Microsoft Edge is set as the default browser and IE is assigned a list of URLs of legacy pages, users no longer need to open IE.

Restricting IE use to pages that are included in the Enterprise Mode Site List

Restricting IE use to pages that are included in the Enterprise Mode Site List

This can be taken care of by enabling the following setting: Send all sites not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List to Microsoft Edge.

Conclusion ^

If you want certain pages to open in IE even after the switch to Edge, group policies offer two options: forwarding all internal web pages or only selected URLs to IE.

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In addition, users can be prevented from opening pages other than those included in the Enterprise Mode Site List. After the end of support, it will no longer be possible to start IE externally, even for the specified addresses.

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