Software

The trick to running legacy web apps on Windows 10

Windows 10 users can run web apps that require ActiveX controls, but it entails a few tweaks--and forgoing Microsoft Edge.

ie

Microsoft Edge, Windows 10's new default web browser, doesn't support ActiveX, DirectX filters, VML vector graphics, or VBScript. But upgrading to Windows 10 doesn't mean your organization's legacy web apps won't work.

To ensure that Windows 10 was compatible with older applications (such as those that require an ActiveX control), Microsoft included Internet Explorer 11 with the new operating system. However, before you can run ActiveX controls safely, you'll need to tweak IE 11's settings.

Tweaking the settings

To get started, click IE 11's cog icon and select Internet Options (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Next, select the Security tab in the upper-left corner and click Trusted Sites (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Now, click the Sites button to open the dialog box shown in Figure C. Here, you can specify the trusted URLs—the ones linked to your legacy corporate apps. You can enter a specific URL or just a domain. In some instances, using a wildcard (*) and the domain is sufficient because hopefully anything running on your domain is trusted. An example would be "*.techrepublic.com." Be sure to check the box that will require server verification on https connections. When you're done, click OK.

Figure C

Figure B

After telling the browser what sites and domains are trusted, you have to go into the ActiveX settings and mark them enabled. To do this, click the green Trusted Sites button and then click Custom Level. You'll see 13 settings under the section labeled ActiveX Controls And Plug-ins (Figure D). You'll need to adjust all of them. Some will be marked Prompt by default, but most will be marked Disable. Go ahead and set them all to Enable. When you reach the last setting, be sure to set the File Downloads option to Enable as well.

Figure C

All these settings control how your trusted web applications function, by allowing ActiveX controls to run without an issue. The File Download option lets you click within your trusted web apps and allow external files, such as PDF reports, to open from the browser.

With these changes, you can now safely run your legacy web apps on Windows 10. Just remember to adjust your ActiveX settings only for your trusted URLs. Enabling ActiveX controls on your global Internet Explorer settings is a security risk.

Other tips?

Have you tried running your organization's legacy web apps on Windows 10? Share your advice and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Ant Pruitt

Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.

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