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ActiveX Browser Useability

It has come to our attention that Microsoft has recently changed the way that ActiveX controls work in Internet Explorer. Most commonly, ActiveX controls control items like Flash movies and other embedded Media Player movies.Starting with a recent update to Windows XP SP2, viewers will be required to “Activate” the ActiveX component before “interacting” with it.

This will affect any item on your web site that uses the Microsoft ActiveX controls loaded by the APPLET, EMBED or OBJECT methods. Some widely used applications that use ActiveX controls within the browser include Adobe's Reader and Flash, Apple's QuickTime Player, Microsoft's Windows Media Player, RealNetworks' RealPlayer and Sun's JVM (Java Virtual Machine).

What does this mean?

An example would be that you have a brief Flash movie, say on your home page or wherever. At the end of a brief presentation, your viewer may be given some choices to click on. With the new update, the brief presentation in the beginning will play as normal, but before you click on one of the links at the end, you will need to “Activate” it by either clicking anywhere on the movie, or if you mouse over the movie, a border will appear around it and the instructions will pop up to either click on it or press the spacebar or hit enter. A simple enough task, but may be confusing to some people, especially in the beginning and through the next 3-6 months as when they click something, at first, nothing would happen. It’s the second click that something would happen. This is especially hard hitting if you have a Flash banner advertisement somewhere.

Why is this happening?

According to e-Week, “... the IE update, which results from a multimillion-dollar patent spat with Eolas Technologies”. You can read more about this from the following e-Week articles;

"Microsoft Delays IE's ActiveX D-Day" (,1895,1943847,00.asp)

Is there a solution?

Grant Communications LLC has been studying several papers from Microsoft on workarounds. We will be testing them in the next week. The fix to implement does not appear overly difficult, and uses an external Javascript file to “write in” the HTML code currently present on the page in plain HTML.

We strongly urge that you review this situation and consider it’s impact on your situation. If you wish to consult us on the problem, or wish to have the problem fixed on your web site, to please contact us at once.


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