Dell recommends Windows 8.

The Change in Browser Management

Joseph Moody, Automator | 8/13/2013 | 25 comments

Joseph Moody
Internet Explorer 11 continues Microsoft's move to a user-centric environment. As IT professionals, we will have to learn how to guess what users want.

Our organization, while probably not alone, uses a single browser (Internet Explorer) for standardization. Most users do not care about their browser as long as it meets certain criteria. The largest requirement is the customization of home pages, toolbars, and general layout.

From the IT side of things, we like to pre-configure a few options related to security and site/zone assignments. Achieving these two separate goals of customization and security will take some creative planning. It can be accomplished with the use of three technologies: Group Policy Administrative Templates, Group Policy Preferences, and the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK).

What needs to be managed?
The question above is one of the hardest to answer when viewed from a user-centric perspective. Our natural inclination is to lock down everything! Locking down everything means fewer things for users to mess up, right? Wrong.

Locking down everything will only lead to you creating exceptions, re-editing Group Policy Objects, and undoing your original work. This will only increase the complexity of your environment, leading to longer troubleshooting times. Unnecessary restrictions will also stifle innovation by your users. Some of the best user interface tweaks and default settings in our environment came from our employees outside of IT. These improvements would have never been used if every setting were locked down.

In our environment, we lock down the Site-to-Zone assignments by using Group Policy Administrative Templates. By doing this, we can prepopulate the Trusted Sites and Internal Sites lists without a user ever removing a critical site or adding an untrusted site. With the exception of security-related settings, we keep the bar high for what must be locked down for the user.

What can be made easier?
Don't take my statements above the wrong way -- users do want guidance. They want their lives to be made easier by you. You can do this by preconfiguring options for them. Think of these as default settings tailored directly to your organization.

A big example of this is the home page. By using IE Preferences in Group Policy, you can configure a default home page. Users can then update, change, or add to your default home page. If a user regularly visits multiple websites daily, he can set these pages as secondary home pages. He would not have this flexibility if Group Policy Administrative Templates were used. When setting the preference up, you will have to use a Create action instead of an Update or Replace action.

Another way you can make your users' lives easier is by redirecting the Online Support link within the Internet Explorer Help menu to your own IT helpdesk. This setting normally points to You can use IEAK when deploying/updating Internet Explorer to customize the default setting for single-click access to your corporate helpdesk.

Moving to a user-centric environment will take work. Every application requires rethinking what is locked down and why. As the default portal to external resources, the browser requires these changes first. Take a look at what you need to control, what can be delegated for user configuration, and how you can make the whole experience easier for your users. This type of thinking will make your IT department more unified with your organization. As a benefit, you will be one step ahead of the user-centric movement.

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anthony.nima   The Change in Browser Management   8/29/2013 6:25:09 AM
Re: Positive change
@Marif: Start button is just one option. They have to address so many other factors to make sure that the Windows users will not get fed-up with their future products.       
michaelsumastre   The Change in Browser Management   8/21/2013 5:52:53 PM
Re: Positive change
I'm not sure how an article about IE's efforts have turned into a Windows 8 Start Button referendum, but it clearly shows that there will be always wounds that will never heal. The best thing that needs to be done is for MS to put all its wieght to 'fix' their 'errors' with the official release of Windows 8.1 (which is briliant, as far as I'm concerned) and educate more users and administrators about Internet Explorer. Else we will all return to the slight reality that not everyone likes the loss of the Start Button and that everybody else use Chrome.
Tuscany   The Change in Browser Management   8/20/2013 11:11:56 PM
Re: Positive change
@Marif   I am not sure to be honest, I have interfaced with Windows 8 and I doubt it was 8,1  and I didn't think to look for the start button as I was still trying to absorb the total different look and functionality.  Can anyone in the community clear this up for us ?   

I am taking SaneIT's word that the start button is a poor attempt at appeasing us MS traditionals ( which probably is 90% of their user base ) and you will eventually end backup in that squared Modern Ui.

I really feel MS will have to seriously reinstitute the start button with most of the options users are used to.
Marif   The Change in Browser Management   8/20/2013 5:20:36 AM
Re: Positive change
@Tuscany: I am not sure what windows 8.1 have offered for Start button as I haven't used it yet. Is it the conventional button or they have made some modifications? I don't think MS can afford to do any lip service for their flag ship product with so large consumer base. They might have planned to add this feature in their upcoming release if not 8.1.
Tuscany   The Change in Browser Management   8/20/2013 5:01:35 AM
Re: Positive change
@Marif   I agree.  The start button is essential to the Windows experience and functionality and yet MS only gives "lip service" to the issue in in Window8 and 8.1  -  You don't just cut out a central piece of the OS and think no one will care.
Marif   The Change in Browser Management   8/20/2013 3:41:34 AM
Re: Positive change
@Cybertaff: Start button for me is like the single button in my smartphones even if it is Samsung or iPhone. I if am stuck somewhere this button helps me out, to launch something or to get out of somewhere. The start button is a single place from where you can operate and navigate to every application or feature windows offer. It can be a printer, control panel, drives or launching an application. Its importance in undeniable to me in terms of user experience.
Cybertaff   The Change in Browser Management   8/19/2013 8:41:43 AM
Re: Positive change
Windows 8 doesn't need a start menu and adding it to Windows 8.1 doesn't necessarily improve the user experience either. All you need to do is use the Windows key!!
SaneIT   The Change in Browser Management   8/19/2013 7:35:52 AM
Re: Positive change
I think the start button is kind of a half hearted peace offering.  Yes there is a button there but it doesn't give you the complete start menu back.  You still end up back at the Modern UI start screen unless there is another change coming that gives us the menu back. 
anthony.nima   The Change in Browser Management   8/19/2013 7:30:57 AM
Re: Positive change
@pcr: Why arent you sure of the change required in the Win 8 Start Button ? Do you think the current interface is the best ? I think the other way round since most of us are used to the older and the traditional more user friendly method.     
PCR   The Change in Browser Management   8/18/2013 11:41:43 PM
Re: Positive change
I do agree with you Susan.   When there is a modification it's better to understand it from the customers or the end users point of view.  As an example I am still not sure about the changing of win8 start Manu. 
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