What happens when you remove Internet Explorer from Windows?

Internet Explorer is such an integral part of Windows that, for some time, you couldn't remove it from Windows. This is not the case anymore and modern versions of Windows allow you to get rid of it, if you do not want to use it. But, what happens when you do that? Will Windows stop working well? Will you still be able to browse the web? Will universal Windows apps continue to run when they need to access data from the internet and display it to you? We have run our own experiments, analyzed as many things as we could and discovered the most likely things that could happen if you remove Internet Explorer from Windows 10 or Windows 8.1:

How to remove Internet Explorer from Windows

Internet Explorer is built into all modern versions of Windows, including Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. That is why adding or removing it is done from the Windows Features section of the Control Panel. We won't go into detail about the steps involved to open this section, as we've already talked about this subject in this tutorial: How To Remove Internet Explorer From Windows.

However, if you’re in a hurry, know that in order to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 10 or 8.1, you must open the Control Panel, work your way to Programs and Features, and remove Internet Explorer from the list of Windows Features.

If you'd like to know more about each Windows feature that you can add or remove, this article will give you all the information you need: What Are Those Windows Features That You Can Add or Remove?.

What will happen if you remove Internet Explorer from Windows 10 and Windows 8.1?

First, let’s talk a bit about Windows 10, simply because this is the most used Windows operating system to date. Up until the appearance of Windows 10, the default web browser from Microsoft was always Internet Explorer.

But Microsoft decided to let go of it, and its latest version was Internet Explorer 11, the default web browser in Windows 8.1. In Windows 10 however, Microsoft included a new web browser called Microsoft Edge, a browser which the company had built from scratch.

In Windows 10, there are two different web browsers available by default: Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11. However, unless you change the default settings, the default web browser used is Microsoft Edge. Internet Explorer 11 is still present only because it may be needed by Microsoft’s users, especially corporate users, for running legacy content and web apps. In Windows 10, Microsoft Edge cannot be turned off, uninstalled, or otherwise disabled in any way, as you can see for yourself in this Microsoft Community Answer.

Removing Internet Explorer will trigger some changes in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. When we made this experiment, we noticed the following:

  1. All the links leading to Internet Explorer are removed from Windows. This means you won't find any shortcut for it and there is no way for you to run Internet Explorer. If no other web browser is installed on your system and you try to open a URL web address nothing will happen. However, this shouldn’t be a problem in Windows 10, as you still have Microsoft Edge installed.
  2. Internet Explorer can no longer be used as the default program for opening file types like HTML or protocols like HTTP or FTP. In the Default Programs section from the Control Panel, you'll notice that Internet Explorer is no longer listed as a program for which you can set defaults.

  1. If you are using Windows 8.1, in order to browse the internet, you'll have to have another web browser installed. Hopefully you have installed one before removing Internet Explorer. If you do not have another browser available, there are only two options available: reinstall Internet Explorer or use the Store to find and install a new web browser. Luckily, this is not a problem in Windows 10, because you have Microsoft Edge.

  1. All the universal Windows apps that need to access the internet in order to display data, will continue to work. That’s true even if the app you want to use is a simple web wrapper for a website. It will continue to work and render web pages.

  1. Removing Internet Explorer from Windows might seem like a good idea when you want more free space available on your hard drive. To see whether this could be a good reason for removing Internet Explorer, we measured how much storage space you gain when you remove it. The result was rather insignificant: we have gained about 300MB of free space.

Conclusion

As you can see from our little experiment, it is safe to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 10, simply because its place had already been taken by Microsoft Edge. It’s also reasonably safe to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 8.1, but only as long as you have another browser installed. Universal Windows apps will keep on working, even if they are nothing more than just web wrappers for a website or something similar. If you have made the same experiment on your own and you found other things that change in Windows when you remove Internet Explorer, please let us know using the comments form below.