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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Cut Internet Explorer from Windows 98 with your own bare hands

In recent months, I haven't written exposes of Microsoft's preposterous legal arguments in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust case because Microsoft has been doing such a good job by itself. Everyone is now familiar with the doctored video demonstrations, the "performance comparisons" using dissimilar modems, and so on. You can almost hear Bill Gates saying, "Gee, they ate it up at Comdex."

Much of the trial has revolved around the following Microsoft claims.

Computer users benefit when Microsoft's contracts require PC makers to ship Internet Explorer (IE) instead of other browsers;

IE can't physically be removed from Windows 98 anyway;

If it can be removed, Windows 98 won't run at all; and

If Windows 98 does run, it will be unacceptably slow.

We now have the opportunity, thanks to an insightful volunteer named Shane Brooks, to see for ourselves whether these claims are true. Brooks, an Australian who is currently studying at the University of Maryland, has developed a Web site that shows you how to remove IE in the comfort of your own office. Brooks cites the following benefits.

You get back about 35MB of hard disk space;

Windows 98 runs much faster; and

Netscape Navigator doesn't crash under Windows 98 anymore. (What a coincidence.)

I've interviewed several people who have followed Brooks' methods and confirm they work under different conditions. The basic steps are as follows.

Step 1. Use a test system. Do this on a PC that you can easily reformat and reconfigure if need be after your test.

Step 2. Replace shell. On a PC with Windows 98 installed, boot to DOS (hold down Ctrl and select Command Prompt Only). Move explorer.exe from the C:\Windows directory to a floppy. Move shell32.dll and comdlg32.dll from C:\Windows\System to floppies. Copy the Windows 95 versions of these three files into the correct locations and reboot. At this point, Brooks says you have a smaller, faster Windows shell. You can run IE at any time by switching these three files back. But let's continue to remove IE itself.

Step 3. Delete folders. In Windows 98, delete the following folders (including all files they contain) from the C:\Windows folder: Catroot, Cookies, Downloaded Program Files, History, Java, Temporary Internet Files, and Web. From the C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft folder, delete Internet Explorer and Welcome. From the C:\Program Files folder, delete Internet Explorer and Uninstall Information. Search for and delete all Desktop.ini and *.htt files (used for "Web view" of folders). Finally, if you are the sole user of the PC, delete C:\Windows\All Users.

Step 4. Delete Favorites. Exit to DOS and delete the C:\Windows\Favorites folder.

On the downside, you lose the Windows Update feature, but you can get the same thing with any browser at Notepad and WordPad won't work either, but you can copy the Win95 versions if you need these editors.

Brooks' Web site names many other files you can delete, Registry entries you can remove, and so forth. And he makes available three free programs that automate a lot of this for you. Go to for details.

I'll print Microsoft's response next week, and I'll print your responses on March 22. Send me e-mail with your test results by March 11, if possible (subject line must be "IE removal").

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