Coming soon in Windows 8.1 Update 1: Internet Explorer Enterprise Mode

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So, a build of Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaked onto the Internet last night. Buried in this build are early bits of what's being called Internet Explorer Enterprise Mode, a feature designed to "improve the compatibility of websites identified by your company".

There's not a lot to play with yet, but I tinkered with it a bit.

It appears to work similarly to the Compatibility View feature first introduced in Internet Explorer 8. One difference is that Enterprise Mode can be configured to consult a list of Enterprise Mode enabled sites via a file on disk or somewhere on the network. This file could contain a list of intranet resources, for example, that need to be rendered in a vintage document mode like IE8.

(Update -- Turns out, I missed Mary Jo Foley's write up on this feature in late January. Oops.)

There were also hints suggesting this mode would have the ability to run in its own sandbox, similar to InPrivate Browsing -- perhaps, and I'm guessing/hoping here, to allow for limited execution of older plugins and awfulware such as Java.

Neat.

You can turn on a limited version of this feature via a tweak to the registry where the F12 Developer Tools hangs out. Simply open the Registry Editor and navigate to the key HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main. Add a DWORD value of EnableEnterpriseModeMenuOption with its data set to 1. Finally, mash the F12 key in a new IE window instance and you should see a enterprise new browser profile in the Emulation area.

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Disable Skype integration in Outlook.com and SkyDrive

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A little over nine months ago, Microsoft rolled out Skype for Outlook.com. This new integration allows users to instant message, make phone calls and even send and receive video -- right from the web browser. It sounds great, but as my colleague Paul Thurrott pointed out then, it comes with a crippling incoming call notification that won't stop ringing after you answer the call with one of the many other applications or devices ringing.

I thought abandoning Outlook.com would be the cure, but Microsoft rolled this integration into SkyDrive too.

Determined to fix this, I ran Outlook.com through Fiddler and noticed Skype code was pulled down and initialized asynchronously from scripts hosted on skypewebexperience.live.com. I thought of various solutions involving DOM manipulation and code injection to unhook Skype, but opted for a simpler brute-force approach: I just pointed the sub-domain to 127.0.0.1 via the HOSTS file (effectively blocking it).

And aside from some minor scripting errors that appear in the browser console, it worked. It even worked in SkyDrive.

Good riddance.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open Notepad as an administrator
  2. Open the file \Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\Hosts
  3. At the end of the file, add 127.0.0.1 skypewebexperience.live.com and save.
  4. Close Notepad and restart SkyDrive/Outlook.com browser instances.

PSA: Wireless display (Miracast) support is broken on the Surface Pro [now fixed]

With the release of the Windows 8.1 GA rollup (KB2883200), Microsoft seems to have inadvertently broken wireless display (Miracast) support on the Surface Pro.

Affected users will have trouble discovering Miracast capable devices, such as the NETGEAR Push2TV and ActionTec ScreenBeam.

Fix: New Marvell AVASTAR drivers (14.69.24044.150) are available in, funny enough, the Surface Pro 2 driver and firmware pack. They apply to the Surface Pro as well. I'm told these will eventually be pushed out via WU as well. [added 10/25/2013]

It's not clear where the fault lies, but I suspect we'll be seeing updated wireless drivers (Marvell AVASTAR 350N) in the very near future.

Stay tuned. 

For more information on Miracast support in Windows 8.1, check out my previous article

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Surface Pro gets new wireless drivers for Windows 8.1

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A keen-eyed buddy of mine, George Roberts, tweeted this morning about new Marvel 88W8797 drivers on Windows Update today. The newer drivers (14.69.24040.136) feature full Windows 8.1 (post-preview) support (i.e. NDIS 6.4) and the required high throughput/low latency improvements needed to properly support scenarios such as wireless display and Skype.

Speaking of wireless display -- some of you may have noticed the feature stopped working on Surface Pro after upgrading from Windows 8.1 Preview to RTM. Well, it's time to turn that frown upside down because after installing these drivers, it's back.

Thanks for the heads up George! 

Outlook.com supports simpler "+" email aliases too

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Outlook.com's email aliases are handy extensions of your core email account and can be used for outbound account consolidation or inbound mail categorization. Sounds complicated and hard to set up, but it's not. Paul Thurrott has some tips on setting it up and answers any questions you may have.

But if you're looking to create a cheap and easy inbound-only alias, or want an alias tied to your custom domain name, here's a quick tip: Outlook.com also supports Gmail's "+" aliasing.

For example, mail sent to rafael+pogs@withinwindows.com lands in my inbox at rafael@withinwindows.com without any additional configuration. It just works. And you can of course set up rules to put these emails into separate folders or delete on sight. (You can replace everything after the + with anything you'd like, as long as it's well formed.)

Neat!