Q: How do I use the Internet Explorer 11 Enterprise Mode?

A: The new Internet Explorer 11 Enterprise Mode, which was introduced in Windows 8.1 Update 1, uses an improved legacy rendering engine to enhance the use of sites designed for Internet Explorer 8, in an enterprise environment. The feature works through a list of sites, which you define, that should run in Enterprise Mode. To create this list, download the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool. After you install the tool, launch it and add sites that should render in Enterprise Mode, as well as sites that should render in the default engine, as the following figure shows.

When you're done adding sites, use the File, Save to XML option to export the list to an XML file. The XML file needs to be available to clients via a URL; therefore, you should save the file to an accessible location.

Next, you must configure clients to use the Enterprise Mode, as follows:

  1. Launch the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC).
  2. Edit or create a Group Policy Object (GPO) that's linked to the desired domain or organizational unit (OU) from a machine that has Windows 8.1 Update 1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 applied. (Update 1 includes the updated Group Policy templates.)
  3. Navigate to \User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer (or to \Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer).
  4. Double-click the Use the Enterprise Mode IE website list policy.
  5. Select Enabled, enter the URL for the XML file, and click OK.
  6. You can also enable the Let users turn on and use Enterprise Mode from the Tools menu policy, which allows users to enable or disable Enterprise Mode as needed.
  7. Close the Group Policy Editor.

Finally, you need to refresh Group Policy on the client machines, which will update the policy in the registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode for user level, or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode for machine level). When you access a site in Internet Explorer that's configured as part of the legacy list, you'll see the Enterprise Mode icon next to the site name. If you click the icon, you'll see that Enterprise Mode is on, as the following figure illustrates.