The new Edge Browser from Microsoft is now out of preview and available for download. I’ve been using the previews for a number of months now and have to say that I’m really impressed with the enhancements and new features.
As the Microsoft goal was to improve compatibility with the modern web and security, here is a summary of what I’ve seen so far and how I think, Edge will impact those managing Windows environments today.
Edge for Compatibility
We all see instances of users needing to use two browsers to access applications. For many organisations, this lack of browser compatibility with modern web and HTML5 internal sites has been an issue that Microsoft seem to have responded to with Edge.
Although not all internal sites are modern and according to Microsoft, around 60% of all internal sites have legacy code dependencies. Having been contributors to the Chromium project, (the open-source project behind the Google Chrome browser), the Edge team were able to use this experience, along with their knowledge of compatibility for legacy Internet and Intranet sites, to build a solution. This was to enable a feature called Internet Explorer Mode- the ability to render Internet Explorer-dependent sites without leaving the Edge experience. Expect more to come on this as we move further into 2020.
Edge for Security
Edge uses Application Guard technology to isolate enterprise-defined untrusted sites. As an enterprise administrator, you define what is among trusted web sites, cloud resources, and internal networks. Everything not on your list is considered untrusted.
If an employee goes to an untrusted site through either Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge opens the site in an isolated Hyper-V-enabled container, which is separate from the host operating system. This container isolation is good news for admins because if the untrusted site turns out to be malicious, the host PC is protected and the attacker can't get to your enterprise data or the employee’s credentials.
Deploy through Intune
You can deploy Microsoft Edge to Windows clients that are managed in your Intune tenant by adding those apps containing the Microsoft Edge installation files to Intune. Time saving work has already been done by Microsoft to streamline the process of adding, as it’s ready to go and packaged in the correct format, directly within the Add app menu.
Internet Explorer isn’t affected by this release. If the organisation chooses to delay a move to Edge then you have options- Of course, you can fully control if and when the new Microsoft Edge will be deployed to your managed devices, which also includes those with Enterprise, Education, and Workstation Pro Edition devices. Or you can also choose to block automatic delivery using policies or deploying the Microsoft Blocker Toolkit.
If you do decide to go ahead, you can continue to configure or restrict updates using those Microsoft Edge Update policies, but be aware that Microsoft plan to build Edge into Windows, so at some stage this will be delivered through a future Windows 10 Feature update for all customers.
Has it delivered on that goal?
So far, I think Edge is bridging the gaps in compatibility and management that we’ve been waiting for. It will be interesting to see the working impact of the new features as teams get to implement the solution. If you want to be added to the watchlist, let me know and I’ll send you exclusive updates as they come through.
Learn more about rolling out and managing Microsoft Edge across your organisation from the published enterprise documentation. I’ve found the fact that you can download offline deployment packages and administrative policy templates for configuring Microsoft Edge on Windows and macOS really useful and you can find them here. According to Microsoft, eligible customers can also take advantage of Fast Track and App Assure support, launching in Q1 of 2020.
Let me know if you want to know more about what we found during the Beta phase? You may also find this Microsoft Mechanics interview from Ignite useful if you are looking for more details as it walks through deployment demos, including Configuration Manager and the new security baseline for Microsoft Edge.