I recently reported on Petri that Microsoft has quietly been making changes to Windows 10. Over the last 6 months, as part of the monthly cumulative servicing updates (CU) it issues via Windows Update, changes have been made to accommodate the new Chromium-based version of its Edge browser.
When I wrote the article, it wasn’t clear exactly how Microsoft would deliver the new Edge. But now we know for sure that it will be delivered using Windows Update. For users and organizations that don’t explicitly block it, the new Edge will start rolling out automatically in January 2020.
The changes that Microsoft has made to Windows 10 are intended to let the new version of Edge replace legacy Edge in the user interface. Although the EdgeHTML rendering engine won’t disappear as it is used by some developers as part of their Microsoft Store (UWP) applications. But for users, legacy Edge will essentially disappear from Windows 10 when the OS is updated with the new version.
Use Group Policy to enable a side-by-side experience
But in a recent support document, Microsoft detailed how users with the stable version of the new Edge browser will be able to access the legacy version. A new Group Policy setting, Allow Microsoft Edge Side by Side browser experience, when set to Enabled will let users work with both legacy and new browsers side-by-side. The policy setting will be located in Group Policy under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Edge > Applications. By default, the policy is set to Not configured.
Microsoft says that for the best experience, organizations should set Allow Microsoft Edge Side by Side browser experience to Enabled before the new version of Edge is installed. If the policy setting is enabled after the new Edge is installed, there are a few caveats to be noted:
- Allow Microsoft Edge Side by Side browser experience won’t take effect until after the installer for the new version of Microsoft Edge is run again
- Microsoft Edge Legacy will need to be re-pinned to Start or the Taskbar because the pin is migrated when the new version of Microsoft Edge is deployed
- Sites that were pinned to Start or the Taskbar for Microsoft Edge Legacy will be migrated to the new version of Microsoft Edge
The Allow Microsoft Edge Side by Side browser experience Group Policy setting doesn’t exist in the current release of Windows 10 by default. To get the new Group Policy setting, you need to download the Microsoft Edge administrative templates. You can get the policy template file from Microsoft’s website here. The template can be added to individual computers or you can add it to Active Directory so that the Microsoft Edge settings are available to configure on domain-joined computers. For more details on how to configure Microsoft Edge policy settings, see Microsoft’s website here.