This is a three-part article about internet browsers in multiuser environments like Citrix Server VDA or Remote Desktop Service (RDS). The articles explain how to deploy and configure the internet browser to work smoothly in those kinds of environments. The most common browsers my customers use are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox; therefore, a three-part article.
Please be aware that some things might change between browser version and need to be checked with each version.
This first part is about Microsoft Internet Explorer and, in my opinion, is used in most organizations as the primary browser, if not the only supported one.
The article is about deployment and configuration of the browser in a multiuser environment and not if the browser is the best, fastest, coolest, etc.
About Internet Explorer
Microsoft Internet Explorer is a core component of the Windows operating system (OS) and therefore, can not be uninstalled. When it's time to move on to the next Windows version, keep in mind it comes with an Internet Explorer (IE) version that also can not be downgraded. This is important to know for compatibility reasons. Out of experience, Microsoft did a lot to make the latest IE versions more compatible and can also be configured through group policies. Microsoft Edge is an additional browser by Microsoft, but the focus is different to Internet Explorer. For more administrative control Internet Explorer is still the way to go, whereas in private you might want to use Edge.
One of the big points for Internet Explorer is the deployment, since there is none and upgraded by the Windows update service, if needed. Do not assume Microsoft IE is the only one with security issues or bugs as all browsers have their issues; but as usual, Microsoft seems to be a more likable target for hackers.
Another big point, in my opinion, is the configuration through Microsoft group policies. Do NOT use the Internet Explorer Maintenance, even with older IE versions, because it has caused quite some issues in the past. Starting with Internet Explorer 10 the group policies preferences should be used and the 'normal' administrative IE settings. Make sure you don't set the same things in both areas. Use the right syntax with Internet Explorer proxy exceptions or they will be ignored.
Here are some important group policy configurations you should set:
- Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed
- Disable hardware graphic acceleration (GPU)
- Disable the enhanced protected mode (YouTube issue)
- Disable unwanted add-ons (Office, etc.)
- Do not set the process tab growth with IE > 9
- Redirect the Download Folder (out of the user profile)
- Disable InPrivate Browsing (can cause user profile issues)
- Optional set Zone assignments (Intranet, Trusted)
- Optional set compatibility options for web apps
- Optional redirect Favorites (be aware it can slow down login when redirected)
- Optional redirect Cookies (can slow down login if too many of them and not redirected)
Again, I think for most companies Internet Explorer is the first choice because of easy deployment and configuration control using group policies. Configured well, the Internet Explorer has also good performance. Too often people forget that a ton of add-ons might get loaded and slow down the IE plus, consuming quite some RAM. I also believe that people read or hear more about IE security issues than with other browsers, but it doesn't mean they don't have their problems. Looking for a quick, easy, yet controlled browser? Then Microsoft Internet Explorer is the right one for you.