One way of disabling Internet Explorer in Windows XP is by using the Set Program Access and Defaults utility available as part of all Windows XP installations with at least the SP2 service pack installed.
Test out an alternative browser first, like Firefox, and then follow the easy steps below to disable Internet Explorer using the Set Program Access and Defaults utility:
Navigate to the Control Panel by clicking on Start, followed by Control Panel (or Settings and then Control Panel, depending on how you're setup).
In the Control Panel window, open Add or Remove Programs.
Note: In Microsoft Windows XP, depending on how your operating system is setup, you may not see the Add or Remove Programs icon. To correct this, click on the link on the left-hand side of the Control Panel window that says Switch to Classic View.
In the Add or Remove Programs window, click on the Set Program Access and Defaults button on the menu on the left.
Choose the Custom option in the Choose a configuration: area.
In the Choose a default Web browser: area, uncheck the Enable access to this program check box next to Internet Explorer.
Click OK. Windows XP will apply your changes and the Add or Remove Programs window will close automatically.
Since Windows Update requires the use of Internet Explorer, manual updates will no longer be possible. Automatic updates, if enabled, should continue unaffected.
Even though you may be disabling Internet Explorer, you are not actually removing it. Your Windows XP PC still uses Internet Explorer for a number of internal processes.
Keep in mind that updates related to Internet Explorer will still need to be performed because IE is still on your PC.