Windows 2000 without Internet Explorer

Those of you who bought my book (both of you) know that the biggest secret to speeding up Windows 95 and 98 was removing the extra junk nobody used–especially the stuff Microsoft deliberately made impossible to remove via normal means.

In Windows 95, all it took was modifying INF files with a text editor to remove MSN, IE, and the other obsolete software it shipped with from the get-go. Win98 got a bit more complicated. But with 2000, Microsoft started getting nasty–putting encrypted data in multiple places, so even if you hacked the INFs, it didn’t do any good.

But several people still figured out how to do it.I really like Fred Vorck‘s site, because he’s careful to document everything. He also found out the same thing I did by writing my book–there are lots of people who will whine that your instructions are too complicated, they’ll whine that when they follow the directions and make a mistake it doesn’t work, or they just repeat the Microsoft party line that the software can’t be removed, and your mouse will stop working, your computer will generate horrific RF interference, and gas prices will soar if you remove IE from Windows. (The last part is probably true, of course, but none of the rest is.)

What really happens when you remove IE from Windows 2000 is similar to what happened when you removed it from Win95 and 98: Your memory usage drops (by about 20 megs, in this case) and your boot time is cut in half.

Since some software does break, because some software does use the IE engine, you might not want to do this on every PC you own. But if, say, you want to run Windows 2000 on an old laptop with limited memory so you can run a handful of useful Windows applications, this is perfect. If you want a stable, lightweight (by modern standards) OS for any Pentium II-class machine that might be sitting in the closet, this makes it a viable option too. A lot of computers are sitting in closets today not because they’re no longer useful, but because there’s no practical or affordable way to boost them up to the half-gig of memory that you need for Windows XP to be practical to use on them.

Read Vorck’s site some more, and dig around, and you’ll find that minimal Windows installs have created something of a subculture. I don’t know if anyone’s squeezed XP down to the level I got Win95 down to (the original Windows 95, released on Aug. 24, 1995, can be hacked down to an installation footprint of 17 megabytes without much hassle), but some people have done some pretty amazing things.

Yes, when I get time someday, I’ll be messing around with this. I wish I’d discovered it sooner.

And in case anyone cares, I found this because some know-it-all at work said you can’t uninstall Outlook Express from Windows 2000. I vaguely remembered having seen a piece of software that goes so far as to remove IE, so I said, “You can remove IE from Windows 2000 if you’re willing to work hard enough at it, let alone Outlook Express.” So I did some more searching, just to satisfy my curiosity.

If and when I end up building a minimal Win2000 box, I may just have to bring it in one day to show the know-it-all. But as longtime readers of this site know, I’ve dealt with that type before. So it’s probably not worth the effort to carry it out to the car.

One thought on “Windows 2000 without Internet Explorer

  • May 12, 2006 at 11:13 pm
    Permalink was selling older Compaq iPaq legacy-free small-form-factor systems for only $59 a few weeks ago. The system runs Win 2000, has a 700 MHz Socket 370 Celeron, 256 megabytes of PC133 SDRAM, and a 10 gigabyte Western Digital hard disk drive. The only fan is inside the small power supply so it’s fairly quiet. It certainly wouldn’t take much effort to carry around. There are still several of these on eBay, usually starting at a few bucks. A few of them have 1 GHz P3 processors, but they start a bit higher.

    Having picked one up (because I think it’s a cool-looking little machine) I’ve backed up the Win2000 SP4 disk (after updating it with all patches available) and will probalby install Linux on it. I know it will certainly make a great small-footprint and low-wattage web server.

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