For some time now I noticed that several preferences in Internet Explorer 11 could not be changed on a local test machine running Windows 7. This included several security settings, and also prevented the installation of many add-ons that I tried to install in the browser.
Surprisingly enough, it also prevented Microsoft-own tools like the Bing Bar from being activated after installation. In the case of the Bing Bar, Internet Explorer displayed an error message notifying me of the following:
'Bing Bar' can't run because it isn't compatible with Internet Explorer's enhanced security features. These settings are managed by your system administrator.
The notifications does not mention any settings, and the more info link leads to a page that mentions protected mode. In theory, it is possible to disable protected mode in the Internet Options of Internet Explorer on the security tab there. It can be enabled or disabled individually here for all available zones.
Enhanced Protected Mode vs Protected Mode
While I was able to disable protected mode by unchecking the preference on the Security tab for each zone individually, it did not resolve the issue that I was facing. Bing Bar would not install in the browser.
Then I read about a new security feature in Internet Explorer 10 called Enhanced Protected Mode. This feature is turned on by default in the web browser.
Enhanced Protected Mode provides additional protection against malicious websites by using 64-bit processes on 64-bit versions of Windows. For computers running Windows 8, Enhanced Protected Mode also limits the locations the Internet Explorer can read from in the Registry and the file system.
It can be disabled under Internet Options > Advanced > Enable Enhanced Protected Mode. I was not able to edit the setting there though, it was displayed in gray and a message at the bottom of the window read the following:
Some settings are managed by your system administrator.
I was signed in with an admin account, and it was quite puzzling that I was not able to modify the setting directly in Internet Explorer.
Settings restrictions usually mean that preferences have been set by an admin in the Group Policy. Note that this is not available for all editions of Windows 7. To start it do the following:
- Tap on the Windows key.
- Enter gpedit.msc into the form and hit enter
Navigate to the following preference folder using the folder structure of the sidebar:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Advanced Page
Here you find the preference "Turn on Enhanced Protected Mode". Double-click it to open its configuration page and select one of the following values for it:
- Not configured means that individual users can turn the feature on or off individually and without restrictions.
- Enabled means that it is turned on for all user accounts and that it cannot be turned off, not even by admins.
- Disabled means that it is turned off or disabled for all user accounts, and that it cannot be enabled by users, not even admins.
If you want to give users the choice to enable or disable the security feature, select not configured here. In my case, it was set to enabled.
Note that Internet Explorer will fall back to Protected Mode if you disable Enhanced Protected Mode in the web browser.