back to article Windows 7 test build 'turns off' Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft’s latest test build of Windows 7 comes loaded with an option to delete Internet Explorer 8's executable file - making it unusable on the OS. The company has added its IE8 web browser as a component that can be toggled on and off via the operating system’s “Windows Features” dialog box. According to testers, who are …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So far, so good...

    Not bad. Now give a more customisable install process (optional, have an "Easy Install" and "Custom Install" option) and allow things like IE to not be installed in the first place.

    Or alternatively, have a "barebones" install (option again, not the default) and have it end up like Server 2008 - nothing there by default, you have to add everything by hand.

    That way, anyone techy enough to want this will already know how to put a Firefox installer on a USB key, and isn't deprived of a browser.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    2 reboots to delete an exe file


  3. Edward Miles


    Two restarts to remove an executable? WTF is going on?!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    had the disable feature, didn't it? In the user access settings stuff from SP2 onwards?

    Hardly new news.

    And the iexplore.exe is nothing but a front end- you'll still be able to access the 'net by typing a URL into the address bar.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not good enough

    We need a way to actually *remove* internet explorer. Which means they need to untie it from their freaking OS. Building a browser into the OS: *Worst* *architectural* *decision* *ever*.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    2 Reboots

    Must be hiding a copy of the supposedly deleted file somewhere.....................

  7. Martin Silver badge


    Yes but for an 'integral part of windows that cannot be removed' - it's not bad.

  8. lsproc

    @Edward Miles

    As it says, configuration :)

    Likewise from what I see its the rendering engine thats left, plus some other fluff which probably could be removed, but removing the rendering engine would break stuff like help which aint desirable. Still, never expected to see this happen anyway.

  9. David Simpson

    NOT a new feature.

    So just like you can remove IE6/7 in XP or Vista, in the add/remove programs > Turn off Windows Features.


    Just being able to uninstall IE would be nice instead of the usual "disable" nonsense.

    Windows update already has it's own dialogue in Vista so why do really need to keep IE anymore ?

  10. Steve
    IT Angle

    @ Eh?

    Windows blue-screened halfway through the first uninstall.

    Also, I have a Web 2.0 name that needs a definition: Where's the iTangle?

  11. aL
    Dead Vulture

    typical reg..

    as usual el reg jumps to unfounded conclusions.. :) obviously there is a lot more going on then deleting the exe file, even your sorce says that it "seems" to be the only thing happening, they dont really know

    so does that mean that i know? no not at all :) but common sense implies that there a whole bunch of registry stuff going on an presumably a bunch of com fluff gets re registerd.

    most likely the first reboot uninstalls ie and the second reboot installs a version of the com objects that are needed for legacy code (presumably some windows components) to run..

    also, remember that this is just an interim build so things might change until RC :)

  12. Chris C

    Turned off how?

    I don't have Windows 7 (and I won't get it), so I must ask here -- is IE "turned off" in the sense that it really won't run, or in the sense that the shortcut simply won't load the IEXPLORE.EXE executable?

    For example, with WinXP and IE6, I can click the "Internet Explorer" shortcut to start IE and browse to any website. I can then enter a local file path in the address bar (say, "file://c:/") to browse my local filesystem. Wherever I browse to, Internet or local, IEXPLORE.EXE is the executable/process used.

    If, however, I open "My Computer" (or use the shortcut for Windows Explorer), it shows my filesystem, and the help menu shows "About Windows". If I then go to the address bar and enter a website URL (say, ""), that window is transformed into an IE window and the help menu shows "About Internet Explorer". Wherever I browse to, Internet or local, EXPLORER.EXE is the executable/process used.

  13. Dunhill

    i knew it

    > Two restarts to remove an executable?

    Yes, it is still the old windows NT ... nothing changes ....

    It is like flushing the toilet twice before etc etc

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Wake me up when they really remove IE. The .EXE is just a wrapper around a crap-ton of registry entries and some .DLLs. So deleting the .EXE won't stop IE exploits :(.

  15. SilverWave

    EU whipped

    Its getting embarrassing...

    ...these days the EU just has to stare hard at MS and they wet themselves.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    "removal of the browser's executable file takes two reboots and a config step to complete the process."

    So you don't just drag it from the "Applications" directory to the trash can on the dock then?

    Windows installers are funny little things, aren't they?

  17. Martin Lyne

    @Edward Miles

    Make a process hard to do and people will be liess inclined to do it. Microsoft doesn't kno whow to give up market share, even when a product is making you no money. Well, si Uppose it defaults to microsoft sirtes then if you were in a hurry and stuck using IE then you might just search on their pages and not Google.

    You'd have to be in a pretty big rush. Possibly drunk.

    They need to include Firefox with it. Giving the people the option of removing something isn't the same as giving them an option of choosing something else out of the box.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Two restarts to remove an executable is good going - try asking anyone who's tried to rid their systems of Norton Infernal Stupidity - sorry "Internet Security" - or anything with the word "Gamespy" or "Punkbuster" in the title.

    The more I hear of Windows 7, the more I like it. Now if they:

    (a) limit it to two or three versions - no 'Windows 7 Gold Amex Edition' through to 'Windows 7 Cheap B'stard Edition', etc;

    (b) Borrow an idea from Linux (please no flaming from Wintards) and let folks have Full Install; Standard Install and Custom Install choices prominently displayed. The latter allowing you to select _exactly_ what's going to be poured onto your hardware, although grouping software (e.g. Multimedia etc) to allow quick selection of related packages.

    End of the year/beginning of next year could be quite interesting...

  19. Steven Knox

    Two reboots

    Obviously, the first reboot is to temporarily disable core components that still call iexplore.exe, and the second reboot is to re-enable them, configured to call the IE8 executable at its new path of c:\windows\system32\criticalsystemlibrary.dll.

  20. pctechxp

    OS UI is built around IE

    Thats why the rendering engine etc can't be removed.

    @penguine lovers (meaning of course Linux lovers in his context) tell me why after obtaining the correct creative drivers and and downloading and installing gorden bennett knows how many packages (ALSA, etc) I cant get my friggin' Creative X-FI card to work under uBuntu 8.10 Huh? (and I grew up with DOS)

  21. Nigel Wright

    XP LIte

    I've been using it and other variants for years to remove Internet Exploder from Win98, Win2000 and WInXp. No doubt the authors will update it to work with WIndows 7..not that I will try. Xp is the last Windows o/s I will use as it's Linux for me from now on...been moving over to it for a while now.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Removal of IE is not a Viable Option

    Many Web sites don't function well unless the browser is Internet Explorer. Most of Microsoft's sites don't work well without using IE and many state and federal government and corporate sites are written by ignorant, semi-trained, MS brainwashed fanboys pretending to be computer programmers.

    IE may be an easily hacked, unsecure, problematic, standards defying application but users need it to function now and then.

    I'm testing Chrome, Safari for Windows, IE 8 and Firefox. So far Firefox is the best overall - due to all of the nifty add-on apps available.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    RE: @Eh? by By Robert Cross

    Mr. Cross don't be silly. Your ideas are too well and properly thought out and are based on education and experience in computer use. Microsoft will never consider it.

    Microsoft is controlled by people who came out of the same business schools that trained the amoral retards that collapsed the banking system. Microsoft's systems analysts and programmers have had no say in running the company in years - except now that Vista (like the banks) has failed, MS technical people are being called upon to attempt to fix the fiasco with Windows 7. But I have no faith in MS management. They will mess up W7 with 9 different versions and no install options just as you dread.

    I have been testing the Win 7 beta and I like the changes (although there are not quite enough). It's too little too late and they will make a mess of it.

  24. Gilbo
    Jobs Horns


    "So you don't just drag it from the "Applications" directory to the trash can on the dock then?"

    There's always one isn't there?

    Safari uses the WebKit system framework which is heavily integrated into OSX in exactly the same way as the IE renderer. You rip it out of OSX and Safari, Dashboard, Mail, iTunes, Quicktime and a whole load of other applications will BREAK.

    Have you tried dragging the WebKit icon to the trash can on OSX recently? Didn't think so.

  25. aL

    @robert cross

    well actually, you'll only really be able to buy three versions of 7.. and the third, ultimate, wont even be whidly available.

    i do agere on the package management though.. however alot of components arent installed at all anymore and instead moved to something they call Live applications or something like that

    however they should also remove media player and movie maker (movie maker, wtf! the picture viewer isnt installed by default but movie maker is?)

    windows is far from perfect but it has come a long way

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Not good enough

    "We need a way to actually *remove* internet explorer. Which means they need to untie it from their freaking OS. Building a browser into the OS: *Worst* *architectural* *decision* *ever*."

    Get a clue, will ya? IExplore.exe is no more "built into the OS" than Notepad. It's a stub that loads a few shared libraries. There are no kernel mode components and if you think that shipping and using a few shared libraries that help not just MS but a whole load of third-party developerrs parse and display HTML or XML based files is the "worst architectural decision ever" then you need your head examining.

    If you want a candidate for "worst decision ever" (though it isn't architectural), then how about the fact that the default user account created by Windows Setup is an administrative one and the built-in Administrator account is then hidden from view, so the average user simply never realises that non-admin accounts are possible, let alone advisable.

  27. James

    Nice try, but no cigar...

    When they can get it to the point where you can do all things that Windows uses IE for using any standards compliant browser (Windows update etc), then I'll accept that Microsoft is changing. Until then, regardless of how the EU see it, deleting an executable doesn't cut it in my book...

    And two reboots just to delete a file? Granted it's only a beta, but are they having a larf?

  28. P. Lee
    Thumb Down

    Do not want, do not need

    to delete the file.

    What I do want is to be able to set firefox as the default web browser without breaking windows-specific functions, such as windows-update, MMC or whatever. If MS want to have their own closed little world for managing themselves fine - just don't inflict it on people wanting to browse the web.

    This looks like MS throwing its toys out of the pram.

    @Gilbo, yeah we know. But at least webkit tries to be compliant with standards, as opposed to deliberately breaking them to prevent cross-platform integration and push people towards installing a particular on the desktop.

  29. Antoinette Lacroix

    Not possible

    As said above, iexplore.exe is just a frontend to explorer.exe. Completely removing IE renders the system useless. Go ahead, boot up *Nix. Mount the Windows partition with ntfs-3g and delete \Program Files\Internet Explorer. Then empty the Recycle Bin, Prefetch and Dllcache.You'll be amazed how little you can do with Windows after that.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Update?

    In the past, I think that disabling IE in Windows Components only deleted the shortcuts to it - the executable remained on the system.

    Be interesting to know how turning on Microsoft Update works after removing IE though, considering it currently takes you to a website in IE and uses an ActiveX control to activate it.

    And you can't really remove any of IE's rendering stuff - it'd be possible for Microsoft to take the reliance on IE out of the operating system, but you'd break any third-party programs that use IE's rendering libraries.

    Of course, some people would say that Microsoft should do this any way. But those would be the same people who complained that none of their old programs worked when Vista came out because of the changes Microsoft made to that.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Borrow an idea from Linux (please no flaming from Wintards) and let folks have Full Install; Standard Install and Custom Install choices prominently displayed. The latter allowing you to select _exactly_ what's going to be poured onto your hardware, although grouping software (e.g. Multimedia etc) to allow quick selection of related packages."

    You can already do that you just have to do a bunch of configuring with files etc.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    n.b.- please don't feed the trolls.

  33. regadpellagru

    Yes, cos it's a malware

    "Many are speculating that Microsoft has added the IE8 “turn off” feature to the upcoming Windows 7 in an effort to satisfy Brussels’ anti-trust regulators."

    Erhm, no, Ms has moved to security, remember ?

    Thus, they commited to remove malwares from their OS.

    And yes, 2 reboots, as most malwares do take more than one to get rid of.

  34. James Whale

    "bereft of detail..."

    "Microsoft, which is becoming increasingly good at writing long-winded blog posts about Windows 7 that are bereft of detail..."

    Not particularly fair - take this post, for example:

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is...

    ... that it will come pre-installed and it will come already turned on. What difference is that supposed to make? The only honest way to do this is to have all web browsers turned off and get the user to make a choice which one they want.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux is a disparate bunch of bollocks.

    and there is a hello from planet wintard... maybe he used his iFone to send that one in...

    ** please do not feed the trolls **

    we really need a plant of the 'tards icon

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Listening to the consumer ....

    Maybe this is just the start of a new thang for the Redmond crew ... listening to what the consumer wants.

    My problem with Vista was that it had a load of things in there which contributed to it's price but which I didn't need (eg DRM).

    I'm fortunate in that Linux works for me, but it won't suit everyone I accept.

    If enough people want the custom install option described above, presented in an easy fashion, why shouldn't they get it?

    They are paying for the damn software, after all.

    This is the danger with a monopoly supplier. They end up thinking they know what's best for their customers...

  38. Jim Howes

    Reboot twice?

    So, we need to reboot twice now, just to delete an executable. This is indeed progress.

  39. Gilbo
    Thumb Up

    @P. Lee

    This is true, but wasn't quite my point. Standards compliant or not we've long since moved beyond the concept of a standalone browser now and removing these frameworks from the OS is not a trivial process.

    At any rate, when my preferred browser actually becomes my only browser and naughty applications stop inexplicably launching IE regardless then I'll be happier. The complete removal of iexplore.exe and whatever changes those two reboots are making to the system has to be a step in the right direction regardless of why MS are doing it.

  40. jmndos


    There is a small problem.

    You can no longer install some ActiveX controls, like flash or shockwave because they require the browser to install them.

    All microsoft apps use activeX controls for extra modules.

    For example, if you wanna use java, or flash in a powerpoint presentation, you are SOL without IE...

  41. Pierre

    I'm amazed

    Amazed by all the comments along the line: "not easy/possible to remove IE as the OS is built around it". It's true, but how the heck is it supposed to be my problem?

    MS embedded IE deep into the OS, which anyone knew was a bad thing. Hardly my fault. Some clever people tink they did so precisely to undercut the other browsers. Now they have to clean their act, and, oh surprise, it should involve untangling the dirty ball of hacks that holds this farce of an OS together. Too bad. But again, hardly my fault.

    Of course they won't do it, they redirect the iexplore calls to explorer instead, which in a well-thought OS would take 1 second and a 3-words command line. How they manage to squeeze 2 reboots out of that is beyond me (but folks at MS have always been incredibly gifted at that exercise. My theory is that they don't make money out of the license price, but out of the reboots. Only logical explanation).

    By the way, this clumsy trick is still not unbundling IE from the rest of the crap pile...

  42. Lewis Mettler

    IE must be unbundled

    It is pretty clear that if you force consumers to take IE when they pay cash Microsoft gets a huge advantage in the marketplace.

    You do not think so?

    Allow the EU to replace IE with Firefox on day one and Microsoft will tell you so.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    this gives gives more reason for companies to move away from that kind of lock in.

  44. Walter Brown

    @Robert Cross

    This is completely off the subject, but have you ever noticed that everytime you uninstall Norton Infernal Stupidity or any other Symantec Security Joke-ware from your system, upon reboot, Windows always displays a message that says "Windows has just recovered from a serious error"? i wish Microsoft would finish that statement and tell it how it is - "Windows has just recovered from a serious error of operator stupidity, but we're ok now that you've uninstalled that useless shit"...

  45. richard tanswell

    XBox Team

    Why can't MS develop something based on the XBox technology?

    It loads quickly, rarely has bugs in my opinion, works for very powerful games, can be shut down quickly, works well online, isn't resource heavy etc etc.

    It's made by MS. Surely they can come up with a similar as a workstation? After all, if I want to play games on XP or Vista, my machine has to be extremely fast, have loads of RAM and decent graphics card to work! Probably 10 times the power the XBox has!

  46. Gordon Grant

    Re: ActiveX

    Well you can always install Open Office and use the Presentation software on that, since well that will open Powerpoint and has no hooks into any activeX controls what-so-ever and I think it has a similar set of features as Power Point, go try it...

    I have to say it's not really IE that's the major problem it's some of the background DLL's that aren't exactly secure, I mean I do believe there is still a HOLE concerning some ActiveX loading Java / javascripted malware going around. I mean the WHOLE activeX control thing is bad enough.

    I'd go and count up the number of bug / vunrabilities that can be contributed to ActiveX and I think over the years it's been quite a few, if not the majority of bugs.

    I see no point in using an activeX control to be honest as most things can be made more cross-browser by using Java, okay the Java applet has to be written nicely....

    Custom installs of Windows have been around since well 98 it's just they aren't exactly clear even with XP and that's without having to go into automated scripts.

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