First, what is ActiveX? Microsoft developed ActiveX in 1996, and it is only useable on the system they are complied for, most commonly seen in Internet Explorer. There are however plug-ins available to use ActiveX with Netscape or FireFox. “The technology can exist within the framework of an Internet browser or a standalone Windows application” (Lee). ActiveX is a tool for building applications from another language, like perhaps Visual Basic or C++. “ActiveX Controls are small programs that are also a set of rules for how applications should share information, which can be automatically downloaded and executed by a Web browser. Programmers can develop ActiveX controls in a variety of languages. ActiveX controls have full access to the Windows operating system. This gives them much more power than other Web technologies. To control this, Microsoft developed a registration system so that browsers can identify and authenticate an ActiveX control before downloading it.” (Broadband Glossary A) The method of controlling use of ActiveX will be explained later. Before ActiveX was introduced to web page developers, their pages were just text and graphics. No manipulation of the page was possible, it was used just to read the information it contained. With ActiveX web pages become interactive, display animations, stream video and sound files, play games, interact with applications, and much more. A good way to think of the power that an ActiveX control has been stated as “If you can do it in Windows, you can do it on the web” (ActiveX versus Java).
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