Microsoft will amp up its damnation of Internet Explorer (IE) and solidify that very aged browser's second-rate status by soon forcibly redirecting more than a thousand websites to the much newer Edge.
According to an October 19 support document, as of the release of Edge 87 — expected November 17-19 — IE will refuse to render hundreds of sites, automatically closing the tab in IE and then displaying a message asserting that they don't work in the obsolete browser.
At that point, the same URL will be opened in an Edge tab and the user will be prompted to make Edge the default browser from a banner beneath the address field. Other outlets, including Bleeping Computer, have reported on the new IE redirections.
"When a user goes to a site that is incompatible with Internet Explorer, they will be automatically redirected to Microsoft Edge," the support document stated. Microsoft maintains the list of IE-incompatible websites.
The current list tops a thousand individual sites, including apple.com, drive.google.com, facebook.com, goducks.com, kroger.com and twitter.com.
This redirection is separate from the IE mode built into Edge. The forced redirection occurs only when using the stand-alone IE11. Managed PCs, Microsoft reminded IT administrators in the support document, should be configured to use IE mode to "let your users load sites in Internet Explorer mode."
The long IE goodbye
The new redirecting — a harsher word for it might be "hijacking" — is of a piece with changes Microsoft announced two months ago. At the time, Redmond promised an August 17, 2021 end to support of IE11 by the Microsoft 365 apps and services. Also on the calendar: Microsoft Teams will drop support for IE on November 30, 2020.
Ending some support for IE11 reinforced Microsoft's positioning of the browser as suitable only for running well-worn apps and rendering creaky intranet sites. So did this latest move. The blocked websites may in fact be incompatible with IE11 — although users have to trust Microsoft that that's so — but they're definitely not from an intranet, not the general URLs like youtube.com or espn.com that compose the list.
By Microsoft's thinking, IE shouldn't be used to visit such sites. The difference is that now the company is forcing that thinking on everyone.
Well, not really everyone. As it almost always does, Microsoft has left loopholes for enterprise IT. Several group policies will be available to, for example, configure the user experience of the site redirection or disable the redirection entirely.
The three policies have been added to the group policy template updates; according to Microsoft, they will also be available in Intune no later than November 8.
Information about the pertinent group policies can be found here.