To make backward compatible to allow legacy apps work properly, Microsoft introduced a compromise in IE 11 called Enterprise mode that, in a nutshell, provides an IE8 type of experience in a modern browser. Not that people really likes IE 8, but sometimes when a legacy business app refuses to move forward the compromise seems to be the only way that makes sense.
So what’s the different between the Enterprise Mode and the Compatibility mode?
Enterprise mode delivers a true IE 8 emulation experience while Compatibility mode deals with backward compatibility issues as well as those odd CSS expression and ActiveX controls that don’t like work in modern IE environment. Simply put, when Enterprise Mode is turned on, you are basically browsing a webpage in IE 8 with IE 11 level of security and performance.
Enterprise mode can be triggered by end user but is designed to be controlled centrally through Group Policy. By default, it’s set hidden but here is how you can enable it on Windows 8.1 and 10.
1. Open Group Policy Editor by typing gpedit.msc in Win+R menu.
2. Navigator to User Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Internet Explorer on the left panel, and double-click the option “Let users turn on and user Enterprise Mode from the Tools menu option” on your right.
3. Select Enabled option, and click OK.
4. Close out Local Group Policy Editor, and restart Internet Explorer 11.
Now, on a website that you want to turn on Enterprise Mode, press Alt key, go to Tools, and click Enterprise Mode to turn it on.
You will see an office building icon showing up before the IE address bar, indicating that you are browsing the current website in Enterprise Mode.
See, it’s already messed up with our website.
If you are looking for a true IE 8 environment, you can always go to modern.IE to download a virtual machine that runs IE 8. But I’d suggest giving IE 11’s Enterprise Mode a try, especially if you have a legacy app that only works in IE 8. If it works, you can safely upgrade to the latest version of IE without breaking out the mission-critical legacy applications.