How we (IT Pros) helped kill Internet Explorer

Not long ago, Internet Explorer was the standard for corporate and of course was the browser that came pre-installed with your Windows PC.

Being so integrated with the operating system, it was only natural that Microsoft would provide plenty of “knobs and dials” to control the behavior of IE. IT Pros all over the world took advantage of these group policies and shaped Internet Explorer to work and behave in a way that suited internal security policies. This, in my opinion played a role in the demise of IE.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure most system administrators meant well by locking down Internet Explorer and took advantage of things like compatibility view mode, zone configuration and others to keep their users safe.

Unfortunately, in many cases, some of this settings were applied across the board, with little testing, and caused frustration for users accessing internal and external services.

Nature finds a way

Given IE’s reputation, users thought the browser itself was the problem, and in order to get the job done (and I don’t blame them for it) they sought alternatives.

This, in my opinion helped Firefox, Chrome and others make their way into the workplace. Sure, they were far less configurable by IT, but they worked, and they worked even better than IE, not only because they had better support for modern web standards (HTML5, CSS3, JS) but also due to this reduced support for “configurability”.

Living on the Edge

I’m probably one of the few users still favoring the default browser. In Windows 10, that’s Microsoft Edge. Edge is fine for the most part (sans the occasional memory leak, or intentional lack of support from certain web properties), as it has HTML5 support and I think given the latest releases (I’m currently on Windows 10 1803) it has improved quite a bit. I’ve only had to switch back to IE so I can use older websites that use Silverlight (yes, they are still out there!) and SharePoint 2010 (yes, I know, 2010…) , which just doesn’t play nicely with Edge for anything else than reader access.

Balance is key

If there’s one thing I’d like you to take from this is to consider user experience while securing your environment. This doesn’t just apply to browser group policy settings, but overall, we need to ensure the digital workplace experience is solid, enabling, and one that is not forcing users to find workarounds for your security settings.

To note, this won’t bring back the good old days of IE, and Microsoft still has a lot of work to do to bring users to Edge. I’m quite confident though, that the new Microsoft has the culture and the bright minds needed to make an impactful change to bring new pride and joy to using the browser behind the “e” logo.