One of the bigger issues (but, obviously not the biggest) when Microsoft first released Windows 8 was how bad Internet Explorer 10 served web pages. Compatibility issues plagued the initial release and Microsoft had to release Internet Explorer-specific fixes to calm those customers bold enough to try the operating system that some have dubbed the Microsoft's Frankenstein monster. Windows 8 and then subsequently Windows 8.1 never saw real uptake among customers and most still keep the pitchforks and torches handy.
Obviously, the web is a place where varied tools and languages are cobbled together in a mish-mash of images and sounds. The web is its own Frankenstein monster. But, not just the locations outside the corporate infrastructure, even web-enabled local locations are put together using much the same MacGyver mentality. Internet Explorer 10 was supposed to bring the web together, but if failed miserably.
Eventually, Microsoft got smart. Internet Explorer 11 released with Windows 8.1 and brought small order to the noise. But, then Microsoft also released a set of tools to help customers control compatibility for both online and local web locations. Enterprise Mode, the Enterprise Mode Site List, and Enterprise Site Discovery were created to give IT staff the ability to make the web work for end-users. Using these tools, Microsoft has stated that…
- Upgrading from IE8 to IE11 was 2.3 times faster than expected, thanks to Enterprise Mode.
- The effort to rewrite applications to modern browser standards was reduced by 75%.
- Ongoing browser support and critical applications testing were significantly reduced.
- Many business users saw improved productivity from using a single browser.
What these tools do, essentially, is to force IE11 to display pages in an earlier version of Internet Explorer, much like the Compatibility View Settings feature built into the web browser but on a greater, more centrally controllable level. Through GPO, automated Site List downloads, customizable XML documents, and centralized interfaces, IT staff can ensure that end-users have a seamless web experience, free from most errors.
The unfortunate thing, though, is that up until now these tools have been designed specifically for IE11. With Windows 10 releasing this year and Microsoft really wanting customers to love the new operating system enough to migrate, the company realizes that the web should continue to work. Companies interested in moving to Windows 10 will be coming from Windows Vista and Windows 7, running Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10.
Without setting a hard date, Microsoft has announced that the company is bringing Enterprise Site Discovery support to IE8, IE9, and IE10 very soon. The company has also delivered some prescriptive guidance for those preparing to upgrade from the various Internet Explorer versions including:
- IE8 to IE11
- IE9 to IE11
- IE10 to IE11
- IE11 to Windows 10
You can find that preparatory guidance here: Making it easier for Enterprise customers to upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 — and Windows 10
You might have heard already, but Microsoft intends to release a new browser with Windows 10. The company is reported to also give the browser a new name in an attempt to shed its sordid history with Internet Explorer. Pieces of the new browser, code name Spartan, are available in the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview (9926) but the first full test code is expected to be part of the next Build rumored to deliver in a few days. Microsoft says that Spartan "just works," but of course, the company sort of eluded to the same thing with Internet Explorer 10.