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Microsoft details Group Policy to control disablement of Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer logo on a dark background

Internet Explorer (IE) was retired a few months ago, complete with a gravestone to commemorate its death. However, the browser isn't really dead, not completely. Microsoft explained that the disablement process is more of a staggered time-bomb that kicked off on June 15.

For the next few months following this date, attempts to open IE will redirect to IE mode in Microsoft Edge before the legacy browser is completely disabled on an unspecified date via Windows Update. In fact, some people have even figured out ways to force IE to open in Windows 11, an OS that shouldn't even bundle the browser.

Now, Microsoft has detailed a Group Policy configuration that organizations can use to better control when they want IE to be disabled instead of waiting for the staggered time-bomb to encompass their tenant.

The Group Policy is simply referred to as "Disable IE Policy" in Microsoft's documentation. As the name suggests, it allows organizations to configure exactly when they want IE to go out of service within their environments. It basically mimics the upcoming Windows Update that will disable IE entirely, but the benefit is that rather than waiting for that unspecified date to arrive, organizations can schedule and plan their IE disablement timelines themselves.

Microsoft has also recommended this policy for customers who are not yet sure whether they can let go of IE completely and fear business disruptions if it suddenly stopped working as a part of the gradual redirection phase.

If you are an IT admin that belongs to either of these target audiences, here are Microsoft's guidelines for configuring the Disable IE Policy in Group Policy:

  1. Ensure you have the pre-requisite operating system updates. This step will update the ADMX files on your machine directly (specifically inetres.adml and inetres.admx). Please note that if you want to update your Central Store, you will need to copy over the .adml and .admx files from a machine that has the pre-requisite updates or download the latest Windows 10 Admin templates from here. For more information, see Create and manage Central Store
  2. Open the Group Policy Editor.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Internet Explorer.
  4. Double-click Disable Internet Explorer 11 as a standalone browser.
  5. Select Enabled.
  6. Under Options, pick one of the following values:
    • Never if you don’t want to notify users that IE11 is disabled.
    • Always if you want to notify users every time they're redirected from IE11.
    • Once per user if you want to notify users only the first time they are redirected.
  7. Select OK or Apply to save this policy setting.

Microsoft has also cautioned organizations that if they are sure that they want to get rid of IE, it's better to have this policy configured by November 1. This is because most organizations enter a holiday freeze period in the last weeks of the year and it would be problematic if an unplanned disablement of IE takes place during this time period.

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