Windows and IE
July 6, 2004 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Internet Explorer in a Windows machine. Essential or not? (expanded quastion contained within)

I see a lot of stuff on this intarweb thing to the effect that one cannot remove Internet Explorer from Windows. For example see the discussion at Plastic. What would happen if I just renamed the file or otherwise prevented it from loading? Would the sky fall down? Would the earth turn backwards? Or worse, would my computer refuse to load up?

I'm running Windows ME (I know, I know….)
posted by muckybob to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
You won't be able to run Windows Update, for one thing.
posted by angry modem at 6:33 AM on July 6, 2004

There's no "the file" for IE. Well, there's IEXPLORE.EXE, but that's just a wrapper around a swarm of DLLs where most of the badness truly resides. If you just want to remove the risk that you might accidentally open IE, renaming IEXPLORE.EXE would help.
posted by majick at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2004

As Majick said there is no file for IE as most of the work is in the DLL's. If you really really wanted, you could hunt down and eradicate them - but then you would find things that depend on them stop working (for example, HTML rendering in email or other applications).

I wouldn't recommend renaming IEXPLORE.EXE as this means some applications which don't handle URL's properly won't be able to open hyperlinks.

Technical reason: instead of telling the OS "open this url" and letting it open the registered application they say "fire up IEXPLORE.EXE with this URL" which doesn't work too well if there is no application with that name.
posted by ralawrence at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2004

That'd be a feature if you're trying to prevent IE from ever launching: breaking apps which try to run it directly without permission would be precisely the reason to rename it.
posted by majick at 7:09 AM on July 6, 2004

My option is to block IE and OE with my desktop firewall, only allowing IE to access the web when Firefox and Thunderbird won't work (ie windows update).
posted by DBAPaul at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2004

In depth article and "how-to" here:

How to remove IE

Once you've decided to get rid of IE, you can use the following process, provided you have Internet Explorer version 6 or later installed. Ironically, the easiest way to remove Internet Explorer versions earlier than version 6.0 is to first upgrade to 6.0 -- a process best done through Windows Update. If you're using Windows 95 and want to remove IE, Microsoft has instructions here.

In Windows NT 4.0, 98, 98SE, ME, 2000, and Advanced Server Limited Edition, open up your Control Panel, which is found in the Start Menu under Settings. Then double-click on Add/Remove Programs; a new window will appear with this same title. Select Add/Remove Windows Components from the left-hand icon column and then uncheck the box next to Internet Explorer. Click Next and IE will disappear from your system; click Finish to complete the process. All IE icons will be removed from your quick launch, desktop, and Start menu.

Depending on which operating system you're using and how it has been updated and configured, the option for removing Internet Explorer may alternately be in the Add/Remove Installed Programs section instead of the Add/Remove Windows Components section, but the basic process remains the same.

In Windows XP the process is exactly the same, except you have some further options to limit Internet Explorer. In the same Add or Remove Programs window, Windows XP has an additional option for those with Administrator rights: Set Program Access and Defaults, which is the last icon down on the left-hand icon bar. Click on it and you'll see some different profiles to choose from. Click on Custom; this will list some program defaults and access controls that you can change manually. The first group in the list is for your Web browser. Uncheck the box labeled "Enable access to this program" next to Internet Explorer. You'll notice there is a button for the system default -- you'll want to click the dot next to your new browser to make it the default if it isn't already set.

Internet Explorer is, unfortunately, built into Windows in all versions after 98 and can't be fully removed. No matter what you do, IE will still be available in a limited capacity for the purpose of running Windows Update, which requires Internet Explorer to run. It will not be generally available to users, however, and since you set your default browser to whatever you installed earlier, IE will never open on its own when you click a link offline. This is the best you can do; Windows security is all about reducing risk, rather than eliminating it. If you start Windows Update, an IE window will open and you can use it for browsing sites other than Windows Update despite the fact that it's been "removed" and "disabled." This is one of the main problems with Windows -- there are always loopholes like this one that compromise your system's security. A more effective long-term answer to such security concerns might be to switch to GNU/Linux.
posted by DBAPaul at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2004

That'd be a feature if you're trying to prevent IE from ever launching: breaking apps which try to run it directly without permission would be precisely the reason to rename it.

I was talking about applications that try to run it with permission though. If the fact that when you click on certain links (that normally pop up a browser window with whatever it is that you want to see) that nothing happens any more is a big deal to you, then you may not want to go down the renaming IE route.
posted by ralawrence at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2004

Unfortunately there are some sites out there that are IE-only. Don't ask me why, but they exist.
posted by gramcracker at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2004

Usually, you can get around that in Firefox by masquerading as IE.
posted by bingo at 7:41 PM on July 6, 2004

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