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Microsoft IE Discovery Toolkit Now Works with Older Browsers

Microsoft extended an Internet Explorer discovery tool to support older browsers.

The tool, known as the "Enterprise Site Discovery Toolkit," was first released in October for discovering IE 11 Web app use. It now works with IE 8, IE 9 and IE 10 browsers. This extended capability is enabled by downloading a March update to the toolkit, according to Microsoft's announcement late last week, which pointed to the download location.

The March update also now lets IT pros "specify which zones and domains are included by the Enterprise Site Discovery information gathering." Apparently, this new feature is designed as a sort of privacy option because, when the toolkit is turned on, it will track all of the sites that end users visit, including how many times they have visited a given page. The one exception is that the tool won't track site visits when IE's InPrivate browsing option has been turned on by an end user.

Microsoft warns organizations to check local laws before using the Enterprise Site Discovery Toolkit. Users don't get any notification that their site visits are being tracked when the tool is turned on.

Organizations planning to migrate to a newer version of IE can use this tool for possible Web app remediation purposes. They'll be able to tell which Web apps are used most and which apps aren't used at all -- potentially helpful information for assessing the testing and app update requirements associated with moving to a new IE release. The tool tracks details such as ActiveX use and document mode switching by IE browsers.

The toolkit also shows how well Web apps performed for end users. It tracks details such as hangs, crashes and navigation failures.

While organizations may want to leave their Web apps alone, IE browser support by Microsoft will fade with time. In some cases, Microsoft will have as accelerated its typical "mainstream support" and "extended support" product lifecycles for IE browsers by providing security patches only for the most current IE browser per supported Windows operating system. That new policy takes effect after Jan. 12, 2016.

Microsoft advises collecting data for a month using the toolkit to get a sense about what apps are being used. The toolkit collects Windows Management Instrumentation data, which gets stored on a local hard drive in the form of a Managed Object Format file. Any management tool that can leverage WMI data can be used to display the test results, but, of course, Microsoft recommends the use of its own System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager product. The sample report templates included with the toolkit are just for System Center.

The toolkit can only be used if the March IE cumulative security update has been installed across a computing environment.

About the Author

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

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