Microsoft Offers 60-Day ActiveX Reprieve

Microsoft has acknowledged that a planned update to the way Internet Explorer renders multimedia on Web pages could cause some serious problems, and promised to give developers an extra two months to modify their pages to ensure a smooth transition.

The Redmond company was forced to make the changes in response to a patent dispute with Eolas Technologies. The fix would affect the way ActiveX controls are displayed on Web pages, according to experts. If no changes were made, a user would have to "activate" an ActiveX or Java control before it would be usable.

An update containing the modification was made available as an optional download earlier this month.

That patch to be delivered to all users on April 11 as part of the company's Patch Tuesday program would deliver an update with the change. Along with this download, another would be provided that would hold off the ActiveX changes through June, the company said. Affected HTML controls include the APPLET, EMBED, and OBJECT elements.

Microsoft said only those who need the extra time should apply the patch, as another in June would override these changes and ensure the loophole is closed. Most companies have made the necessary changes, as Microsoft has been assisting its partners since December 2005. However, a few enterprise customers have requested an extension.

While Microsoft says that the transition will be smooth, and has posted instructions on how developers can automatically activate their controls through the use of external scripts. Still, some experts speculate that because not all sites are making the changes, there could be chaos when the patches are applied to customers' browsers come April.

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