What Are And Why Do I Need ActiveX Controls?

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Sometimes while surfing the Web, I run into a roadblock. This roadblock, unlike the viruses that can seep into computers everyday, is the box that appears in the middle of the screen and says, “Click OK to run an ActiveX control on this Web page.” However, if I do click “OK,” Internet Explorer (IE) always encounters a problem and needs to close. Because this can be an all-too-frequent event with all the online assisted reporting I perform, I did some research on ActiveX.

According to webopedia.com, ActiveX is a loosely defined set of technologies developed by Microsoft for sharing information among different applications. ActiveX spawned from Microsoft’s OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) and COM (Component Object Model). An ActiveX control is a component program object that can be re-used by many application programs within a computer or among computers in a network. The technology for creating ActiveX controls is part of Microsoft’s ActiveX technologies.

You would think that the definition would offer some insight to why IE consistently needs to close after I click “OK,” but it doesn’t. Through a few quick key strokes and mouse clicks, I found that Microsoft released an Internet Explorer ActiveX update on June 14, 2006 for Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Basically, this update changes the way in which IE handles some Web pages that use ActiveX controls and Java applets, which run things like Adobe Reader, Apple QuickTime Player, Macromedia Flash Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player, etc.

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