Microsoft updates Edge's Internet Explorer mode

Still can't say goodbye to the legacy browser? Some cookie and COM functionality has been restored

Still got that one weird corporate app that simply must use Internet Explorer? Microsoft has tweaked IE mode in its Edge browser to lure the last holdouts.

Internet Explorer continues to hang in there. While its usage barely registers in Statcounter figures (coming in at just over 1 percent of desktop browsers worldwide), like chewing gum stuck in a cashmere sweater, it just won't go away.

Microsoft would much rather customers used its Chromium-based Edge browser, and in 2019 added "Internet Explorer" mode to Edge in order to ease the pain for administrators faced with intranet applications that rely on the veteran browser's quirks.

However, for a few customers, Internet Explorer mode did not go far enough so, with less than three months left until Internet Explorer 11 is retired, Microsoft has tweaked Edge once again to ease customers into the post-IE world.

The first notable change is what to do about all those applications that call Internet Explorer COM objects. Running those with IE or using a combination of Edge with IE mode worked OK, but once the standalone Internet Explorer goes away, those apps will stop working. The solution?

"IE COM objects have been restored to their original functionality and will continue to work after the IE11 desktop application is disabled," said Microsoft.

The other issue is cookie handling on legacy sites. Not a problem if you're just using Internet Explorer, but combining Edge and Internet Explorer mode has caused difficulties for customers trying to run a mix of sites, some of which are happy on modern browsers and others that need Internet Explorer mode to function.

The problem arises when cookies are used to share information (such as credentials) between sites. IE mode has, up until now, been a one-way street. Session information from sites using the modern rendering engine could be passed to the legacy engine, but not the other way. The restriction caused headaches for admins forced to mix old and new. Microsoft has relented and made it possible to manually set cookies to be shared in both directions.

Internet Explorer's demise is long overdue. Microsoft's tweaks are therefore to be welcomed, even if IE will linger on in some form or other long after the upcoming June retirement date. ®

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