With the release of IE11, Microsoft introduced its newest tool for web application compatibility, Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer (EMIE). Since its inception, there has been a lot of excitement and also confusion about what EMIE can do and what it can’t do. Many of our customers have been asking, “When is EMIE sufficient and when should I choose Browsium Ion?” This blog post compares the two, highlighting the key differences that matter to your browser migration projects. In the end you’ll find it’s clear that EMIE is useful and important, but Ion is essential for mission-critical web applications in complex enterprise IT environments.
Microsoft designed EMIE to address web applications that were developed for IE8, but do not work properly in IE11. Developing this tool was critical for Microsoft and its customers, as IE8 is now the single most popular version of any web browser, particularly in enterprise where it’s dominant. With Microsoft ending support for IE8 (and IE9 and IE10) in January 2016, every enterprise now must evaluate the tools that can assist in their IE11 migration strategy.
EMIE offers more features than Microsoft’s previous tool, Compatibility View, which was optimized for IE7 compatibility. It’s great to see Microsoft adopt approaches and provide tools to help with web application compatibility as they continue to evolve Internet Explorer.
Customers who have limited complexity in their IE8-dependent web applications will be pleased with EMIE. It is designed to address user agent string and CSS expression issues. It also has a Site List Manager to enforce which sites will use Enterprise Mode through Group Policy and end users can select Enterprise Mode for public websites as well. In our experience, customers with these basic needs will benefit from this improved and easy to use tool for simple IE8-based web applications.
However, many of our customers have discovered that, while EMIE addresses some of their basic compatibility issues, it falls short in addressing defects with their more complex business critical web applications. Many of their IE8-dependent applications will not work properly with IE11 and EMIE. In addition, EMIE does not provide a solution for migrations to IE11 from IE9 or IE10. For all of these applications, a more comprehensive solution is required.
Web based applications with compatibility challenges often hold companies back from a required browser or OS migration. These troublesome and frequently mission critical applications are typically very complex and highly customized. They exist at a foundational level of the business process or provide parts of the core IT engine that drives the overall business. These applications aren’t broken simply because of a user agent string or a CSS expression button, which EMIE is designed to address. They are made up of many little applications and reporting tools, and each may be broken by a range of issues that require a different set of changes to fix them. This is where we see the majority of defects in these complex applications. And this is where Ion goes above and beyond what EMIE can provide.
Browsium Ion delivers a complete solution for remediating both basic and complex legacy applications running in modern versions of Internet Explorer and also delivers granular management of browser environments for true side-by-side compatibility and enhanced security. (Screen shots of Ion and EMIE found at the end of this post clarify how different these two products are in the granularity of their settings.) Ion uses the same Internet Explorer and Windows APIs as EMIE, but is much more powerful to effectively remediate complex enterprise web applications.
Another major area of concern for our customers is safely managing the multiple versions of Java required by various applications. EMIE does not to address Java management. Browsium Ion enables you to maintain a defense-in-depth Java strategy by allowing specific applications to run only the Java version it requires, when needed, independent of your overall Java security strategy. Ion provides granular control of Java so you can run multiple versions side-by-side, maximize your security stance, and accommodate legacy applications that require older versions of Java.
The following table will give you an idea of how Ion can work in your environment when compared with EMIE.
|Target web apps for remediation by domain or URL||✔||✔|
|Provides IE8, IE9, IE10 rendering modes to fix basic layout issues||✔||✔|
|Provides IE8, IE9, IE10 user agent strings to server||✔||✔|
|Provides option of using any IE rendering mode, from Quirks through IE11||✔|
|Manage multiple versions of Java and run them side-by-side in IE||✔|
|Enables phased rollout to heterogeneous IE environments, across XP, Win7 and Win8||✔|
|Custom Registry Settings per web application to control specific IE features and security settings||✔|
|Override ActiveX controls for each web application, with zero-footprint installs||✔|
|Deploy configurations via Group Policy||✔||✔|
|Deploy configurations via any enterprise mgmt tool||✔|
Clearly, EMIE is rarely enough for most large enterprise environments. Complex enterprise organizations with many legacy and in-house developed applications need much more — they need Browsium Ion for web applications compatibility and the added browser management capabilities today’s most dynamic IT environments demand. Try Ion in your organization by downloading the free evaluation kit.
The following screen shots provide a very clear picture of the power and comprehensiveness of Browsium Ion when compared with EMIE. Ion has many rich features and granular control for web application remediation and browser management, while EMIE takes a more simplistic approach with only a single site list in its management tool.