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Rumor: IE 11 To Get 'Enterprise Mode' for Browser Compatibility

Microsoft is rumored to be planning an "enterprise mode for IE" feature for Internet Explorer 11 to address compatibility issues faced by organizations.

The claim comes from veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources in an article published today. If true, Microsoft may at last be paving the way for addressing a key migration problem that organizations face -- namely, how to upgrade Windows while still maintaining line-of-business Web applications built on Microsoft's older browser technologies.

Foley cited another anonymous source that "confirmed" that the new enterprise mode is built into IE 11 version 11.0.3 and that it will be available with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 1 release. Microsoft hasn't said when it will release the next update to Windows 8.1, but it's rumored to appear as early as mid-March. Possibly, Microsoft may change the option to boot to the Desktop interface of Windows 8.1 with Update 1, making it the default option, according to recent speculations floated by The Verge.

Microsoft has claimed over the years that Windows and Internet Explorer are intrinsically tied together, even though they get released separately. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates infamously argued the point that IE is part of the operating system before Congress during the old Netscape vs. Microsoft antitrust battles. In the end, Microsoft managed to establish its domination in browser market share, largely by leveraging its Windows monopoly.

Meanwhile, plenty of organizations built their Web sites and Web applications based on IE 6, which was tied to Windows XP. IE 8 is similarly tied to Windows 7, but support for IE 8 has already faded. Google, for instance, stopped supporting IE 8 more than a year ago and announced last year that it no longer would support IE 9 for running Google Apps.

Microsoft's browser product lifecycles are tied to those of Windows, and new versions of IE get released with each major Windows release. Consequently, organizations can get in a double bind: they feel the pressures to upgrade Windows but must also address potential Web site and Web application compatibility issues associated with older versions of IE. Such concerns can delay, complicate or even impede OS migration plans.

The problem has gone unaddressed for so long that companies such as Browsium have sprouted up to fill the breach. Browsium offers its Catalyst solution that organizations can use to prioritize browser use, depending on the Web site or Web application accessed. It also offers an Ion solution that helps remediate older IE browser technologies.

So far, details about the rumored enterprise mode for IE feature have not been disclosed. It's not clear if Microsoft will at last provide a solution for organizations that find themselves stuck on older IE technologies.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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