How to remove branding in Internet Explorer 7

Branding - is the term given to customization of Internet Explorer settings. Branding can be performed by a Corporate administrator or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or an Internet Content Provider (ICP) using tools like the Internet Explorer Administration Kit, before redistributing Internet Explorer to their customers. As an example, branding could include setting the default search provider, customizing the browser title, adding default feeds etc.

Problem

When a user installs a branded Internet Explorer 7 package, the user can only move to another branded Internet Explorer. The user cannot get back an Internet Explorer with Microsoft defaults.

Workaround

Removing Branding from Internet Explorer Internet Explorer preserves the user settings during a un-install and upgrade. Branding makes the settings configured as user settings and the browser does not provide a formal way to remove them. Even if a user installs a new vanilla Internet Explorer without any branding, the user settings which would have originally come from branding would stick and be retained.

 

One of the ways to reset the user settings to defaults would be using the Reset IE Settings (RIES) feature.  This is available under Tools Internet Options Advanced Tab Reset (referred to as Reset IE Settings). However RIES is designed to respect any branding that may have initially been applied.

 

Note that RIES is a feature to be used only when IE becomes unusable. This is because it resets all user-defined browser settings, all Add-ons loaded at IE startup (Toolbars, Browser Extensions, and Browser Helper Objects) and clears all browsing history. In order to use any of the disabled Add-ons, users will need to selectively enable them through Manage Add-ons dialog. Thus this is not a recommended method but only a known way for achieving the end result of removing branding for users who know the impact of RIES.

 

Thus, to be able to completely remove branding from machines,

         In a corporate scenario, a work-around would be to remove %ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\CUSTOM\install.ins file, and then run RIES.

         If you uninstall branded IE7 and install clean IE7, (in either Corporate or ISP/ICP environments )just hitting Reset IE Settings will remove all the branding.

         In an ISP branding scenario, if you uninstall branded IE7 and install clean IE7, just hitting Reset IE Settings will remove all the branding. This is because IEs default Install.INS file overwrites the INS file present in sign up folder on an upgrade/uninstall. Or alternatively, for an ISP scenario, just remove %ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\SIGNUP\install.ins file, and then run RIES