Microsoft brings back automatic ActiveX

Microsoft is to remove a feature from Internet Explorer that required users to activate certain interactive features on a website. Prior to April 2007, the features functioned without any user interaction. The changes were made in an effort to circumvent a patent owned by Eolas and the University of California.

Microsoft agreed in August to pay $521m to settle the patent dispute. "Microsoft has now licensed the technologies from Eolas, removing the 'click to activate' requirement in Internet Explorer," said Pete LePage, a senior product manager at Microsoft, on the company's IE Blog.

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30 Comments

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Gooooooood, this was one stupid patent that affected many web sites who didn't update there codebase with a workaround.

this is good one.. at first I got scared is it soemthing to do with.. u get a bar on top.. which says click here to run activex control.. but good its nto that.. its just the interaction with controls part hurray.

So by the looks of it, unless Opera ponys up millions of dollars they'll remain as the only browser with click-to-activate?

i wish they fixed IE 7 huge huge cpu usage... i am lag in the comment pages of youtube with his hundred comments with a core 2 duo t7700

Thanks for the warning. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go confirm that IE is disabled on my kids' computer.

lbmouse said,
Thanks for the warning. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go confirm that IE is disabled on my kids' computer.

What does this have to do with security of your kids computer? If you dont want them doing activex then turn it off in the IE control panel... this change had NOTHING to do with security... it just prevented interaction by default... the control still ran like it should just you could not interact with it without an extra click

Seriously, if I was a patent judge, I'd say if you go after MS then thats it while other big companies infringe on your patent with out action against them also, you invalidated your claim and have to pay the winnings back... this is just stupid its agains MS only.. Apple violates this also, so does FF, Opera, etc... yes I know the laws of MS has money blah blah but if you go after MS you should be required by law to go after the others also or you are marked as a leech for money and lose your claim

neufuse said,
Seriously, if I was a patent judge, I'd say if you go after MS then thats it while other big companies infringe on your patent with out action against them also, you invalidated your claim and have to pay the winnings back... this is just stupid its agains MS only.. Apple violates this also, so does FF, Opera, etc... yes I know the laws of MS has money blah blah but if you go after MS you should be required by law to go after the others also or you are marked as a leech for money and lose your claim

That's not how these things work. If you hold a patent, you can go after whoever you want. Microsoft do this as well in their patent lawsuits, whether directly themselves or through proxies/puppet companies.

The real problem is the granting of software patents in the first place. Software should only be a matter of copyright and not patent. But in America you can patent software ideas, like Amazon's 'one-click' thing and... Eolas' embed thing. Luckily you can't do that in Europe and in most of the rest of the world. It has become such a nightmare the US would be better off getting rid of software patents and just letting software copyright do its job, like the used to do in America.

This is (all entirely) incorrect.

This patent concerns the use of the <embed /> tag(s) in HTML, not just embedded ActiveX controls.

People THINK it affects ActiveX only because the most prominent use of <embed /> is for Flash, which so happens to be an ActiveX control.

This patent DOES affect Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc basically any browser that supports <embed /> but Eolas being the greedy ******* they are, decided to sue Microsoft only because they had $$$.

Ledward said,
This is (all entirely) incorrect.

This patent concerns the use of the <embed /> tag(s) in HTML, not just embedded ActiveX controls.


No, it concerns the use of embedded content, not necessarily in a HTML page, but the lawsuit was based around web page content. This also includes the <object/> tag (which is the proper way of doing it, the proprietary <embed /> tag is used within the <object /> tag because of attributes like classid that Gecko-based browsers don't grok but help IE).

People THINK it affects ActiveX only because the most prominent use of <embed /> is for Flash, which so happens to be an ActiveX control.

That is Microsoft's way of embedding the content (which uses the <object /> tag BTW). FF uses a different method. So does Opera.

This patent DOES affect Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc basically any browser that supports <embed /> but Eolas being the greedy ******* they are, decided to sue Microsoft only because they had $$$.

So did Opera, before they decided to go completely free; you could pay for the browser if you wanted to. Eolas also could have gone for Apple, but didn't, which is another good reason this lawsuit should never have been allowed to see the light of day. Opera decided to do the same as Microsoft (the "click to activate" business) as a just-in-case-we-get-sued-too measure. The open source movement stuck two fingers up at Eolas instead, just as Microsoft should have done.

All this boils down to the fact that developers still have to do the round-the-houses method of external script in order to have an automatically activated control in IE and Opera, as the update(s) to remove this behaviour a) won't be classed as "critical" (unlike the cripple code) and as such won't be automatically installed and b) not everybody will update in the first place. This still means that those who choose / have to browse with JavaScript off and haven't / can't update still get the "click / press Spacebar to activate" annoyance.

lol... This is quite funny. I bet Eolas are gonna be laughing all the way to the bank with their $521m!

How come FireFox doesnt have that "issue" then?

Nice, this is good news. When radiology systems use ActiveX controls, the staff hates to make extra (unnecessary) clicks to get to the pictures they need to do their jobs.

OOOO Noessssss! 2 extra clicks in the name of security... I hope you guys lower their pay since they won't be doing as much work now.

phiberoptik said,
OOOO Noessssss! 2 extra clicks in the name of security... I hope you guys lower their pay since they won't be doing as much work now.

This was never introduced for security reasons. The plugin can run, call javascript in the html and other stuff just fine without anyone clicking on it. The only reason you have to click on it is to enable user interaction on the plugin (and yes, the user is you).

phiberoptik said,
OOOO Noessssss! 2 extra clicks in the name of security... I hope you guys lower their pay since they won't be doing as much work now.

nothing about security here like the post above says :).. OOOO Noessssss someone doesnt know what they are talking about :P

phiberoptik said,
Hmmm I thought the change was made as a security feature, so active-x controls didn't run automatically....

Nope

phiberoptik said,
Hmmm I thought the change was made as a security feature, so active-x controls didn't run automatically....

No the patent covered interaction with a plug-in.. thats why it says "press spacebar to interact" the activex controls still run! you just cant interact with them until you do an extra click or button press.. this never stoped activex from running... thats why you have a security dialog that asks you if you want to run unsigned controls or install activex controls at first run