With Windows 10, Microsoft introduced the new Edge web browser. It might therefore make sense to uninstall Internet Explorer on the computers in your organization.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Various reasons exist to uninstall Internet Explorer. If you plan to keep Edge as the default browser on your computers, or perhaps install a third-party browser, Internet Explorer might no longer be needed.

Why to uninstall Internet Explorer ^

The main reason for uninstalling Internet Explorer is security. Internet Explorer once was notorious for its security holes. However, Microsoft worked hard to make Internet Explorer secure. Considering that other web browsers now have a significant market share, Internet Explorer is no longer a primary target for the bad guys.

Having said that, removing Internet Explorer improves security, not because Microsoft’s legacy web browser is inherently insecure but because a smaller footprint always increases security. This particularly applies to all programs that access the public Internet.

Even though Edge is now the default browser in Windows 10, users can still launch Internet Explorer. This essentially means that the IT department has to support two browsers even if you didn’t install a third-party web browser.

Your users could get confused if two web browsers live on your computers. The Internet Explorer and Edge icons look very similar and users might not even notice the difference. Problems can come up if users add Favorites to Internet Explorer that are then not available in Edge.

Some web apps might behave differently in the two browsers, and your help desk will always have to ask which browser the user works with. Of course, your support staff also needs training for both browsers.

Thus, it might really make sense to uninstall Internet Explorer. Just in case you are considering sticking with what you know and uninstalling Edge instead of Internet Explorer, it is not possible (as far as I know) to remove Microsoft’s new Spartan browser on Windows 10.

Error message indicating that Edge cannot be uninstalled

Error message indicating that Edge cannot be uninstalled

Why not to uninstall Internet Explorer ^

Of course, reasons also exist to keep Internet Explorer on your computers. The number one reason certainly is compatibility. If your organization requires web apps that only work properly in Internet Explorer, then you have no choice but to live with two web browsers.

If you upgraded your computers to Windows 10, or if you work with roaming user profiles, your users might expect to find their old favorites in Internet Explorer. If you want to move your network to Edge entirely, you have to make sure that users can first import their old Internet Explorer favorites to Edge.

Importing Internet Explorer Favorites into Edge

Importing Internet Explorer Favorites into Edge.

Note that Internet Explorer and Edge store saved passwords at the same Registry location. Therefore, users can continue using the credentials in Edge that they previously stored with Internet Explorer.

Another thing to consider is that users might require training if you move to Edge because the user interfaces in the two browsers are quite different. Thus, you might want to keep Internet Explorer on your systems until your organization is ready for the transition.

But make no mistake about it, Internet Explorer is now a legacy browser and the future of Windows belongs to Edge. I suggest not waiting too long before you get rid of the good old IE.

Turning off vs. uninstalling ^

Thus far, I have been talking about uninstalling Internet Explorer. This is not entirely correct. Microsoft speaks in terms of “turning off” instead “uninstalling.” Since the browser wars, Redmond claims that Internet Explorer has to be a part of the operating system and can therefore not be removed. This didn’t change in Windows 10 even though Internet Explorer is no longer the default web browser.

However, this is not just a manner of speaking. In a certain sense, Internet Explorer stays on the system after you turn off Microsoft’s legacy browser. Even though users can no longer start IE after the feature has been turned off, most of the files in the Internet Explorer folder in Program Files and Program Files (x86) will not be removed.

However, you will notice that iexplore.exe is missing. Note that simply restoring the old Internet Explorer folder is not enough to enable Internet Explorer. Only when you enable the Windows feature again will Windows restore iexplore.exe from a backup and make the corresponding configuration changes so that IE can be launched again.

The main reason that most of the files have to stay is because some third-party applications use the Internet Explorer app services. Turning off Internet Explorer will not break those applications. This is certainly a security problem because malware might also make use of the IE DLLs. However, because users can no longer surf the web with IE, you certainly improve security by uninstalling Internet Explorer or, more precisely, by uninstalling iexplore.exe.

How to remove Internet Explorer ^

Two ways exist to disable Internet Explorer. You can either turn off the feature through the corresponding Control Panel app or you can use PowerShell. The latter option allows you to remove Internet Explorer remotely on multiple machines.

To use the GUI, you can type “windows feature” in Start search and then click Turn Windows features on or off.

Turning off Internet Explorer

Turning off Internet Explorer

Note that Windows has to reboot after you disable Internet Explorer 11.

If you want to use PowerShell, you need the Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature cmdlet to uninstall IE. You might first want to get the correct name of the Windows feature, which you can do with the following command:

Get-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online | Select FeatureName | Select-String Internet*

The next command then disables Internet Explorer:

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName Internet-Explorer-Optional-amd64 –Online

You can also run both commands remotely if PowerShell remoting has been enabled on the remote computer:

Invoke-Command -ComputerName <computer name> -ScriptBlock { Get-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online } | Select FeatureName | Select-String Internet*
Invoke-Command -ComputerName <computer name> -ScriptBlock { Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName Internet-Explorer-Optional-amd64 -Online }

Remotely uninstalling Internet Explorer with PowerShell

Remotely uninstalling Internet Explorer with PowerShell

If no user is logged on to the remote computer, Windows will automatically reboot. If a user is logged on to the computer, you will receive the following error message:

Restart-Computer : Failed to restart the computer RemoteComputer with the following error message: The system shutdown cannot be initiated because there are other users logged on to the computer.

If you change your mind later, you can also use PowerShell to turn on Internet Explorer again:

Installing Internet Explorer with PowerShell

Installing Internet Explorer with PowerShell

6 Comments
  1. Matt Huff 5 years ago

    Thank you, thank you. Exactly what I was looking for. I have users that continually use IE when we give them modern options of Edge and Chrome. I think they get drive-by downloads of driver cleaners and toolbars. No more.

  2. Bebbspoke 5 years ago

    The above instructions do NOT fully disable IE

    For proof of that statement; - simply download and run CCleaner after you "believe" that you have "disabled" IE - CCleaner will show incontravertibly that IE is still running in the background...

    Microsoft may deny the fact that they are playing "Big Brother" but the reality is that IE remains to be observing you.

    • Jude 5 years ago

      Unfortunately correct!

  3. Bullet 4 years ago

    I really like the option of turning the Windows features off and I would do that if the damn start search worked at all.
    Oh, wait... That might be a different subject.

  4. John 4 years ago

    Bullet - please note my previous post in this thread... you may be able to apparently switch some Windows features off ... or disable them... but most still work in the "background" and waste processing time & space...

    • Bullet 4 years ago

      John,

      I appreciate the reply but my previous comment was a stab at the fact that the search function- which is needed in the first step of "How to remove Internet Explorer"-does not work.
      I haven't (ever) used a single iteration of IE and wasn't even tempted to install their 365 crap.

      While the thought of completely uninstalling that garbage is appealing, am I surprised that it isn't possible?  Right... about like I'm surprised that MS would spy on me  (you) and deny it.

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