Users have started to circulate do-it-yourself instructions that may or may not be safe to try. The instructions, which require the user to edit code within a system file, apply to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) service release 2 of Windows 95, a version that Microsoft shipped to PC makers in August 1996. Microsoft told PC makers that they may either ship the latest version of Win 95 with IE 3.0 or a two-year-old version of Win 95 without any IE-related files, but that to try to strip out IE 3.0 files from the latest Win 95 would effectively kill the system.
The instructions making the rounds claim to remove all traces of IE 3.0-related files without incurring any damage, but they acknowledge that the procedures are not endorsed by Microsoft and trying them is at a user's own risk.
Meanwhile, rival Netscape Communications said it will respond to customer demand and give Windows 95 users directions how to install Communicator and remove Internet Explorer. Starting next week, the company will post the information on its Web site. The instructions for removing IE 3.0 will more or less follow directions Microsoft has posted on its Web site, said Netscape spokewoman Chris Holten.
According to Microsoft, removing IE 3 is a simple, three-step process. The procedure basically entails going to the "Add/remove programs" control panel and removing Internet Explorer from the list.
However, this procedure leaves IE-related files in the system, and Microsoft officials argue that the presence of such files, even if they have no obvious function to the end user, goes against the wishes of the Justice Department and Judge Thomas Jackson's injunction.
In the ongoing antitrust trial, Judge Jackson ordered Microsoft to provide to PC manufacturers a version of Windows 95 without the IE 3.0 browser. To comply, the company offered a two-year-old version of the operating system stripped of all underlying IE-related files, which led the DOJ yesterday to accuse the company of being in contempt and of "rewrit[ing] the injunction to permit exactly what it precludes."
Microsoft sent a letter to OEMs last week that listed all the files that would need to be removed to comply with the court's injunction.
One reader who sent NEWS.COM a more complicated set of instructions for removing IE 3.0 acknowledged that Microsoft's method doesn't completely erase all traces.
"[Its] way of doing things leaves some completely useless files on one's hard drive, so I prefer my method," the reader said.