Since I have XP on a computer, and normally use Linux instead, I decided to see how hard or easy it would be to kill internet explorer and what problems might result from it.
First I opened a Search box from the Start Menu and had it search for iexplore.
There were quite a few of them. Some were leftovers from a Vista install I never completely removed. I had been thinking of putting W7 on over it later perhaps, so left all it's files after putting XP back under it's own bootloader. Also it seems new iexplorers don't remove old iexplorer files and there are copies left in upgrade files, etc.
So, I changed the name of iexplore.exe by adding a dash and in seconds a new copy of it appeared in the "Program Files/Internet Explorer" folder. I did the same, adding another and another dash and each time windows would put a new copy of iexplore.exe into the folder, all this within a minute's time.
Well, now it had my undivided attention, LOL. Never being one to give up easily I began searching around at all the various copies of it and discovered the DLLCACHE is where the copy was coming from which would quickly replace it's loss in the Internet Explorer folder. It would not delete while using the Windows Explorer aka File Manager, so I opened a command box (cmd at the Run prompt) and did "cd" to the folder and deleted it that way. I also then while in command box deleted the copy of iexplore.exe in the "Program Files/Internet Explorer" folder. That did it, it was gone. I did get a message asking to restore it, but I just clked on Cancel.
Just to be save, I also had to open a command box to delete the copy of it in the "Windows/Prefetch" folder, since that wouldn't delete using the windows file manager. I don't know if that was necessary, but I didn't want to do a reboot, have that "fetched" and have to do the process above all over again.
I rebooted successfully. No problems. I clked on the Internet Explorer button and got the following, showing it was no longer active.
I DID NOT remove the Internet Explorer folder since the Connection Wizard is in there and all I wanted was to disable the IE, which is now accomplished. I rarely use it anyway, prefer Firefox. If I need it for something, I can return one of the renamed copies to proper file name and then disable it again as desired.
I did create a new text file in the Internet Explorer folder and renamed it iexplore.exe with "read only" set for it, just in case. Hopefully any update which includes another copy of it will at least ask before overwriting it.
It has not affected my ability to FTP using Windows File Explorer. It has not stopped ability to use Internet Options settings either.