Microsoft Edge is faster, safer & gives you longer battery life. This makes it the best choice on Windows 10 but after talking to dozens of enterprises, it’s not uncommon to learn that specific webpages (e.g. requiring ActiveX) do not function well under Edge. This leads many organizations to configure Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows 10.
Lets get things straight: There is no technical compatibility reason why you shouldn’t use Edge as the default browser on Windows 10, starting with version 1511 (also known as the Anniversary Update).
So, what’s the best approach?
Use Edge as the default browser, when users navigate to specific legacy websites automatically fall back to Internet Explorer. When the user navigates to a non-legacy website, automatically close Internet Explorer and navigate to the site using Edge.
This combines the best of both worlds. Stay secure using a fast browser providing longer battery life and use automated fallback from/to Internet Explorer for application compatibility. Lets look at how you configure this.
Create an Enterprise Mode Site List
- Create an XML file that lists your legacy websites and their required browser/rendering engine. Your organization might already have such a list after migrating to IE11 on Windows 7.
- Download the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager, enter a specific website and adjust the Compatibility Mode according to the requirements.
Tip: Use Upgrade Readiness to gain automated insights on websites visited by users in your organization, including details like Compat Mode and ActiveX plugins used. This also applies when using Windows 7 and 8.1.
- Save the Enterprise Mode Site List to a shared location like webserver or server UNC share.
Note: Webserver is the preferred method to host the Enterprise Mode Site List. Also keep the UNC connection limit on Client Windows versions into consideration when testing.
I recommend specifying a blank homepage & blank new tabs in Internet Explorer. This prevents the default homepage in IE to cause automatized fallback to Edge.
Define the required policies
A total of three policies are required, two in which we define the same Enterprise Mode Site List in Edge and Internet explorer. The third policy is to make sure Edge is used for all non-legacy websites.
- Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List for Microsoft Edge. Link for more info & screenshot.
- Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List for Internet Explorer. Link for more info & screenshot.
- Send all sites not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List to Microsoft Edge. Link for more info & screenshot.
Expected browsing experience
Open Microsoft Edge and test the following scenario:
- Browse to a website not on the Enterprise Mode Site List, e.g. microsoft.com
- The site will open in Edge
- Browse to a legacy website, specified on the Enterprise Mode Site List
- Internet Explorer starts and navigates to the legacy site
- In the same Internet Explorer instance that just opened the legacy website, browse to a website not on the Enterprise Mode Site List, e.g. microsoft.com
- Internet Explorer closes and Edge will use a new tab to browse to the website.
- Check if the Enterprise Mode Site List is loaded correctly by browsing to “about:compat” in both Edge and Internet Explorer. Deselect the Microsoft Compatibility List to see your custom entries.
- Are you experiencing erratic fallback behavior? Make sure you specify a blank homepage and blank “new tab” location.
- Support for fallback to IE was added in Windows 1511 (November Update)
- Support for fallback from IE to Edge was added in Windows 1607 (Anniversary Update)
With a few policies, we can leverage the best of both worlds: Edge for faster/safer browsing and Internet Explorer for specific legacy websites. Hopefully this allows you to use Edge as the default browser. Please consider leaving a reply if this blog helped you.