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What’s New With Internet Explorer Policy Management

Sulabh Upadhyaya

2 min read

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The old tried and true methods of Internet Explorer policy management have changed and no longer apply. If you are one of the individuals banging your head against the wall, wondering why settings via Group Policy Object (GPO) using IE Maintenance (IEM) are not applying or are missing altogether, well, you’re not alone. Things have changed since the days when, as you may recall, one would configure Internet Explorer using the IE Maintenance feature in Group Policy and forget about it.

In Windows 8, the IEM settings have been deprecated in favor of Group Policy Preferences (GPP), Administrative Templates (.admx), and the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK). One thing to note is that any settings that you previously configured with IEM will no longer work on computers where Internet Explorer 10 or newer is installed, regardless of the Windows version it’s been installed on. You must update your settings using Group Policy Preferences, Administrative Templates (.admx), or the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK). Before you go into GPO/GPP, just a quick note: you always have the option to deploy Internet Explorer configuration using IEAK. However, in this blog, I will reference GPO/GPP settings. Below are the methods that have worked successfully for Kraft Kennedy.

Group Policy Preferences (GPP) – The Internet Explorer Preference features allow IT Admins to deploy settings once as a default then and then lets users modify the settings on what works for them best. Preferences can also be deployed in a similar manner to GPO because the default settings are updated as part of the GPO refresh cycle. This allows a temporary change that can later be refreshed with the configuration in the Preference. The IE Preferences approach is best utilized for settings that do not need to be enforced but are important to get deployed at least once.

Administrative Templates (GPO) – You can download and utilize the latest setting via available GPO templates to configure and enforce all settings in Internet Explorer via the standard settings under computer and user sections. Note that when settings are configured using this method, the end user has limited or no ability to modify settings.

Feature to Note – Even though the Internet Options section seems to have all the possible features, the “Sites” button will be grayed out when you go to the Security tab to add some sites to zones.  In order to manage this, complete the section for configuration of IE: Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Internet Explorer → Internet Options → Security Pages. Under that section, you will see the “Sites to Zone Assignment” option. By enabling that option and specifying the sites and their zones, you will be performing the equivalent of adding your sites to the trusted zones in Internet Explorer, or doing the same in the more convoluted way using the deprecated “Internet Explorer Maintenance.”

Using the above methods will provide a level of control that did not exist with the old Internet Explorer Maintenance feature. The main difference is that in order to fully utilize all the options that are available now, you have to locate them in multiple locations, whereas before all settings were under one feature set. Now you know where to look depending on how you wish to implement your configurations.