IE competitors mull ActiveX alternative

While Microsoft hangs onto ActiveX everybody else is looking for a better alternative. Every other browser maker except Microsoft is revising the way plug-ins run in their browsers. "There's currently a hole in what's available if you're not willing to be part of the Microsoft ActiveX world," said Mozilla Foundation president Mitchell Baker.

Everybody who is anybody who is not Microsoft has joined forces to create a new way of running software applications inside a Web browser.

At stake is the future of Web "plug-ins," which let third-party programs such as Macromedia's Flash animation software operate within most non-Microsoft browsers. Plug-ins contrast with separate technology known as ActiveX developed by Microsoft to handle the same task in Internet Explorer. The Mozilla Foundation, Opera Software and Apple Computer--all browser providers--said on Wednesday that they had teamed up with plug-in vendors Sun Microsystems, Adobe Systems and Macromedia to revise the way plug-ins run in non-Microsoft browsers.

The rest of the browser world has long relied on the NPAPI (Netscape Plug-in Application Programming Interface), in order to launch plug-ins. Once launched, Flash and Adobe's Acrobat PDF document reader operate in their own plug-in world, incommunicado. The Mozilla Foundation is an open-source group developing browser code that originated with Netscape Communications before Netscape was acquired by America Online. Last year AOL spun off the open-source group as a nonprofit foundation and renewed its browser ties with Microsoft.

News source: C|Net

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