Explore the wonderful world of Windows 10 browsers

With the end of support for IE prior to version 11 and the rise of Microsoft Edge, the time is now for admins and users to learn about the Windows 10 browser landscape.

Most users are useless without their internet browsers. With some of the changes Microsoft made to Windows 10 browsers, it's crucial organizations know what to expect before making the jump.

For starters, Internet Explorer is now second fiddle to Microsoft Edge, the new default browser in Windows 10. The Microsoft Edge browser comes with a few new features and tools administrators and users alike should familiarize themselves with. The company also discontinued support for versions of Internet Explorer (IE) prior to IE 11.

What about applications that require older IE versions?

Some users work with legacy applications that are not compatible with Edge or IE 11. And, some vendors no longer update legacy apps so they're never going to work right on the Windows 10 browsers. Unfortunately, because Microsoft no longer supports versions of Internet Explorer prior to IE 11, old browsers are a real security hazard.

Microsoft Edge is both new and familiar.

To deliver old versions of IE without putting their organizations at risk, admins have a few options. First they can use Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host to essentially virtualize previous versions of Internet Explorer on users' devices. Virtualization is prone to latency and bandwidth issues  which can hurt the user experience.

Admins can also use Internet Explorer Compatibility View or Enterprise Mode, which are built into IE. They both replicate previous versions of IE within IE 11. Either tool works well for static websites but can run into trouble with more complex sites such as enterprise resource planning pages. Compatibility View renders the browser in a pre-IE 8 format. Compatibility View is not browser specific, however, so admins have to do this for an entire domain, which limits flexibility. Enterprise Mode allows admins to change the browser on a URL-by-URL basis, but it only replicates IE 7 or IE 8.

If users do not need older versions of IE, admins should force them to use IE 11 or the Microsoft Edge browser because they are more secure. To do so, they just access the Control Panel, click Programs and Features, turn Windows features on or off, and turn older versions off.

What should users expect from Microsoft Edge?

Microsoft Edge is both new and familiar. All the browser features users expect, including a private browsing option and printing capabilities, are present. There are also new tools such as Reading View, which allows users to navigate websites in a more readable format.

The Microsoft Edge browser homepage comes with rotating images and headlines users can customize. They can also use basic settings to alter the theme and decide whether or not the Favorites bar is present. With advanced settings, they can go even deeper by activating or deactivating the pop-up blocker, setting their default search engine and more.

The Hub is an area in Microsoft Edge where users can access their history, downloads and reading list. They can also use the Hub to bookmark a page.

Microsoft integrated Cortana into Edge. Users can ask Cortana for more information on something by highlighting a word or phrase on a website. Cortana delivers the information in a new pane without the user having to navigate away from the original page. Cortana does not respond to voice commands in the Microsoft Edge browser, however.

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What is Web Notes?

Web Notes is another handy feature in Microsoft Edge that lets users draw, highlight or type directly on webpages. If users want to emphasize a particular point or aspect of a webpage when they're giving a presentation, for example, they can circle or highlight what they want to show their audience. They can also use Web Notes to take notes. The markings do not alter the actual webpage, but it makes a copy of the page where users make the notes.

To save their Web Notes, users can either send the files to Microsoft OneNote or add marked up pages to their reading lists. Web Notes also includes a Share function that lets users send files as JPEG attachments to an email.

What about security?

Microsoft Edge is not immune to malware. Malicious pop-ups telling users to click a link or call a number for help can be a real problem because the message does not go away on its own and users cannot close their browsers normally when they crop up. Even if they use the Task Manager to force the browser to close, the pop-up returns when they fire up a new window.

Admins can combat malicious pop-ups through the Control Panel. First click Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center and Change Adapter Settings. In the window that opens, right-click the adapter and choose Disable. Then open a new Microsoft Edge browser window and close the tab with the malicious message. Next, clear the browser's cache and close it. Finally, right-click Network Connection and select Enable.

Next Steps

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