On Friday, Microsoft announced that it would indeed change the way Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) handles embedded Web page content, sidestepping an Eolas Technologies patent that had landed Microsoft in court. Microsoft first warned Web developers over 2 years ago that it would have to make these changes to IE, then changed its mind and challenged Eolas in court. With Eolas now sitting on a $521 million jury ruling, however, Microsoft has returned to its original plan for modifying IE. Microsoft says it still plans to appeal the ruling as well.
To alert Web developers to the changes, Microsoft has published a white paper, "Activating ActiveX Controls," on its Web site. (See the URL below.) This document "describes how Microsoft Internet Explorer handles ActiveX controls, shows how to load ActiveX controls so their interfaces are activated, and describes the impact of this behavior on accessibility tools and applications hosting the WebBrowser Control."
For end users, the changes mean that they might need to perform an additional mouse click to interact with ActiveX controls that are loaded in a Web page using traditional methods. However, ActiveX controls that are noninteractive (i.e., those that run in place on the page) will still work. Users who wish to interact with such a control will just need to click it first.
Microsoft will make the changes in IE, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 beginning in January 2006 via Windows Update and other Microsoft software updating tools. Upcoming products, such as Windows Vista and IE 7, will also include the changes.
Link: Activating ActiveX Controls (Microsoft)