Microsoft Alters IE Due to Patent Ruling

As Microsoft's legal woes continue, the company is making changes to Internet Explorer and Windows in an attempt to sidestep the $521 million Eolas patent ruling issued by a federal court in August.

Even while Redmond is appealing the court's decision, Web developers have until early next year before Microsoft modifies the way Internet Explorer handles ActiveX controls embedded in Web pages.

Eolas, which suggests Microsoft license its technology for a price, received rights to plug-in technology researched and developed at the University of California in 1994. A lawsuit filed by Eolas alleges Microsoft used the plug-in technology without permission in its products released over the span of the past decade.

Microsoft and its partners, as well as some competitors with aligned interest in the Windows platform, is providing developers with specialized documentation on how they should deal with these changes.

A brief listing of products affected by the litigation includes: Macromedia Flash, Apple QuickTime, RealNetworks RealOne, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Sun Java Virtual Machine and Microsoft Windows Media Player.

Web developers who do not abide by the directions of these vendors and author new code, will encounter a scenario where a dialog box will display in place of a control when an affected page is loaded.

"This ruling affects more than just Microsoft; it affects a broad array of partners and customers -- including companies that many would view as competitors," said Michael Wallent, general manager of the Windows Client Platform at Microsoft.

"Microsoft has been very proactive in reaching out to this group to develop steps that will reduce or eliminate the ruling's impact on consumers and other companies, even as we appeal it," said Wallent.

According to Microsoft, further technical information on the proposed changes to Internet Explorer and early versions of the documentation are available on the MSDN Web site.

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