AKA How to force certain websites when opened in Edge, to instead open in Internet Explorer.
Microsoft Edge is undergoing a big change with the underlying platform being migrated to Chromium – things will change with that (along with a new Internet Explorer mode) but that doesn’t help right now.
Many companies have certain websites they need to use that either require Internet Explorer, or work best in Internet Explorer. This isn’t about what browser is ‘best’, but some solutions were designed with only Internet Explorer in use.
Getting users to use the right website in the right scenario can be a pain, and every user seems to have their own opinion on what browser they prefer to use. Microsoft Edge has a great solution for this – Enterprise Mode. There was also an Enterprise Mode in Internet Explorer that worked in a similar way too, where you could force certain sites to run as a certain version of IE for compatibility reasons.
This is quite easy to set up, but I’ve found the existing documentation rather confusing to follow and doesn’t give an end to end explanation – or documentation is rather outdated and was written when the feature first came out, with a lot of options changing since then.
Step 1 – Enterprise Mode Site List Manager
Download Enterprise Mode Site List Manager (schema v.2) and install it. This is the program you’ll use to manage the sites you want to force to use IE rather than Edge:
Enterprise Mode Site List Manager will start off blank. Click the ‘Add’ button on the bottom, type in the URL of the site you want to use (don’t worry about http or https if you want to catch both). You then tell it what to do with that URL – Open in IE, Edge, or do nothing. Since we’re opening everything in Edge except what we want in this list, open in IE11 is the option we want, and leave it at the default IE8 Enterprise Mode (or change this if you need a different compatibility mode).
There’s two parts to maintaining a list – Exporting/Importing lists, and Saving as XML:
Once you have a record to test, go to File > Export. This will save your details into an .emie2 file, and put that somewhere central and safe. The idea is that you’ll need to import that file list to make a change, then export again. If you don’t do this, you won’t have a way for others to get the list of sites and make changes by importing that file at a later date. It has in-built version control (this is important, more later), in the screenshot above you can see it’s version 5.
Then, you can save your URL to an XML file. This is what Edge will read when it launches. Either save this file centrally where everyone can read it (no write access required, just read), or copy it to everyone’s computer locally via GPO. Personally I’ve just put it in a central location.
Step 2 – Configure Group Policy or Intune
I’m using Group Policy, but the Microsoft Documentation mentions Intune is supported too – we’re only changing registry settings, so that makes sense.
Turning on Enterprise Mode can be done at either the Computer or User level, and is under > Policies > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Edge > Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List.
Enable this setting, and in the options enter the path of where your XML is – e.g. \\server\sharename\edge.xml – or C:\Data\edgesettings.xml. Although the Group Policy says URL, it’ll accept UNC paths or drives.
If you’ve used a Computer Configuration setting, gpupdate then reboot (or reboot twice). To tell if the setting has applied, check the value of the registry setting:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\MicrosoftEdge\Main\EnterpriseMode or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\MicrosoftEdge\Main\EnterpriseMode SiteList = The path you entered in the Group Policy setting.
If you’re see that, great! Group Policy is working. One caveat if you have System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) – it can potentially use this setting also as per this technet thread which is exactly what I had. I was testing a user policy, but this was configured at both the user and computer levels so my user setting was being ignored. I’m not sure if this is still used, but worth being aware of.
Version control is also recorded in the registry. It lives under:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MicrosoftEdge\Main\EnterpriseMode CurrentVersion = 5
regardless of the SiteList being under Computer or User. There’s a few catches with this – first, it’ll only show up after Edge is launched, and you wait ~65 seconds. It’ll show the same version as what’s contained in the XML, which was the version we saw in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager.
If you have the ConfigMgr setting, or have ever had Enterprise Mode for Edge enabled in your environment, then the version might already exist and be higher than what you’ve tried to deploy. On my PC, I saw version 28000 something – that’s a lot of versions.
You’ll need to either delete that value for everyone to start back at 0, then after Edge is launched per user, it’ll update to whatever your XML file contains, or update the version in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager to a higher number than whatever’s out there in your environment.
To change the version in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager, on the computer with it installed navigate to
C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming\EMIESiteListManager\ – in that path should be a file called SiteList.xml.
That file should have the first line as <site-list version=”5″> or whatever the current version is, and you can just change that ‘5’ to whatever number you want. Open Enterprise Mode Site List Manager and you’ll see that updated version number, which will then get written +1 to the XML file next time you save it out.
That’s really it – it’s simple, but there are a few catches I ran into when testing. Once this is in place, if a user goes to a site that you’ve listed in the XML, a new window opens in IE and goes to that site instead. It’ll also support subsites, so you don’t need to sent traffic for an entire domain like adamfowlerit.com there, it could be adamfowlerit.com/news and only hits to that subdomain will be triggered.
There’s a few other Group Policy settings around this such as forcing all intranet sites to go to IE, you’ll need to work out what’s best for your environment.