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Microsoft Bows to Eolas, Revamps IE

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the here-ya-go dept.

Internet Explorer 237

Tenacious Dee writes "The patent quarrel between Microsoft and Eolas takes a strange turn with an announcement from Redmond that the Internet Explorer browser will be modified to change the way ActiveX controls are handled. A Microsoft white paper details the behavior change."

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Uninformative blurb (0)

Evro (18923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173867)

I have no idea who Eolas is or what their patent dispute is with Microsoft. Some more info would have been great.

Re:Uninformative blurb (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14173884)

RTFA dumbass

Re:Uninformative blurb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14173885)

Given all the dupes here regarding Eolas/Microsoft, you should've known ;)

Re:Uninformative blurb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14173897)

Sheesh, must be some Tech and World News page you run if you don't know about this.

You might want to read up on "SCO" sometime too - that's a company name btw.

Re:Uninformative blurb (5, Informative)

n0dalus (807994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173903)

You can see the Patent Here [uspto.gov] .

Essentially, it's a total bullshit patent attempting to own the concept of having an interactive server/client style application embedded in a webpage.

Re:Uninformative blurb (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173947)

Thanks... don't know why that short description wasn't included in the blurb.

Re:Uninformative blurb (4, Insightful)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173933)

Here's an article from 1995 [eolas.com] (Yeah, pdf sucks, but it's very telling about what's going on)

It appears no browser will be safe. Safari, Firefox, Opera, KHTML, etc. The 1995 article discusses applets, not ActiveX. This is precedent setting, and could have consequences for all browser plugins.

Re:Uninformative blurb (1)

blueeyedmick (844023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174042)

From the 1995 PDF article: "Eolas stands to become a big company quickly by deriving a licensing fee from any outfit that supplies or uses applets". Really. Check out what they say about themselves on their own web site: http://www.eolas.com/ [eolas.com] . Nothing here indicating a huge, rapidly growing, influential company. It appears they hold a handful of patents and a clever logo, but not much more. If they haven't been able to markedly influence browsers in a 10 year time span, why should this decision mark some significant change in the landscape? What, really has changed here other than Microsoft essentially avoiding another lawsuit by doing something they probably should have done anyway (in order to avoid the security flaws pointed out by other posters).

Re:Uninformative blurb (3, Interesting)

LainTouko (926420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174097)

Wouldn't browsers like Opera and KHTML be safe due to not being based in America?

Re:Uninformative blurb (1)

danhirsch (904306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174119)

This is exactly what I was concerned about when I read the article...will java applets be affected? It sounds like they will be. I remember back a couple of years ago when this became news...all the information pointed to applets as well as active-x components.

Personally, and some of you might think this is stupid, I have often thought that it would be a great idea to create a seperate "browser" of sorts that is just for web based applications. I haven't thought it through as to how everything would work, but I believe it could be made to where it offered some fat-client functionality to web based applications. If it were to be created to where the browser and all of its components, controls, etc... were self contained and didn't rely on the OS stuff...I could possibly see a method to have fat-client functionality, remotely hosted code/data, thin client benefits, as well as being cross-OS compatible.

Now of course I don't think this would work for your everyday website that uses a misc. applet or active-x control for stuff...but generally they can get by without it.

I dunno...any thoughts?

Re:Uninformative blurb (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174302)

Well, you could start by making the browser just another applet that runs alongside other applets in one or multiple VMs.. Reminds me of Sun's hotjava browser somehow...

But really, the Eolas patent should be dismissed as obvious, too bad the legal definition of obvious nowadays has little to do with the intentions of patent law, let alone with what the dictionary meaning of the word is.

Re:Uninformative blurb (3, Funny)

eargang (935892) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173948)

Informative blurbs? you must be new here.

Or... (5, Insightful)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173873)

They could perhaps just remove ActiveX entirely, insecure as it has proven to be.

Re:Or... What's at stake for the industry (4, Insightful)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173914)

just remove ActiveX entirely

I think that's a great idea too. However I'm under impression there's a larger issue at stake which may affect more than just the IE ActiveX technology. Eolas stands to "adversely" affect other technologies with a court ruling in its favour. I'm not commenting on who is right or wrong. I don't have enough info. Maybe somebody else could comment futher on what else might be a stake besides Microsoft's ActiveX technology ...

Re:Or... What's at stake for the industry (5, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173974)


Is my enemy's enemy my friend? I don't think so. If I chastise Microsoft for patenting software (which I do), then I can hardly endorse it in anyone else. When what you dislike is the weapons themselves, then it hardly matters who is using them on who.

Re:Or... What's at stake for the industry (3, Insightful)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174301)

No matter how much you hate the weapons, it's still pretty sweet to see their greatest proponent taste its own bitter medicine, though. ;)

Re:Or... (2, Interesting)

BishopSRQ (935893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173950)

>>> They could perhaps just remove ActiveX entirely, insecure as it has proven to be. Yes, it's called .NET. This conversation makes me forget which year it is...it's 2001, right?

Re:Or... (2)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173984)

I think a better approach would be to setting ActiveX to only be usable on a local Intranet and *.windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Maybe even force the usage of SSL to allow ActiveX to be used outside of the Intranet for a false sense of security.

Re:Or... (1)

pimpsoftcom (877143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174056)

But that would prove in most peoples eyes that ActiveX was a failure, and Microsoft would never admit to something that could hurt there bottom line.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14174138)

AC spelling nazi here. Wrong their. Your sentence should have been.

"But that would prove in most peoples eyes that ActiveX was a failure, and Microsoft would never admit to something that could hurt 'their' bottom line."

You are welcome. :)

Re:Or... (5, Informative)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174061)

I knew someone would turn this into a flamefest about ActiveX.

Allow me to make a technical point on slashdot -- ActiveX is nothing more than an interface standard. It's neither "secure" or "insecure" by itself. As it is used in IE it's no less secure than any other browser plugin mechanism, including those found in Firefox or Safari.

The technology you dislike is not ActiveX -- it's called Internet Component Download [microsoft.com] . And while it still exists, it's pretty limited in XPSP2, and there's been some rumblings that it will be removed alltogether in Vista.

Re:Or... (0, Troll)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174352)

An interface standard? How is it a standard when no one uses it but Microsoft? Is it supported by the W3C? A standard of one isn't really a standard now is it.

And why has it not become a standard? Because due to several security problems inherent in ActiveX that Microsoft refuses to do anything about, few want to adopt it and no one wants to standardize on it.

A standard it is not.

Re:Or... (4, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174411)

I knew someone would bite on that. ActiveX/COM actually was standardized by The Open Group (the UNIX people).

Besides, it's documented, there's multiple implementations, there's no patents that people are aware of -- just because Your Favorite Platform doesn't use it doesn't make it any less of an open standard.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14174427)

Haha.. nice reply. Strangely enough.. no come back. :)

Re:Or... (2, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174086)

OK, who the heck mod'ed the parent insightful? Sure, let's break everything! That'll work! While it might be a nice idea; the type of thing you throw around in a brain-storm session where "nothing is stupid", there is no way it is even close to possible to remove it now.

The best that could be done is to change the behavior a bit each rev (Vista starts this by the way) to make it very hard to install ActiveX and eventually very hard to run it. Maybe in the OS after Blackcomb they can finally get rid of it.

Re:Or... (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174112)

You'd only be breaking a subset of Windoze software by removing ActiveX. Surely the entire world isn't running on Windows built of OLE objects and ActiveX controls?

Re:Or... (2, Informative)

spectral (158121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174263)

The entire world? No. The entire windows operating system? pretty much. MFC extensively uses ActiveX/COM controls, whether you realize it or not. VB? ActiveX/COM drives half of the VB interfaces you see (unless it's vb.net, in which case it might only be 1/4th.) Have you ever embedded something in an office document? That's an ActiveX/COM control right there. (Their solution to this Eolas patent essentially causes it to treat ActiveX like a COM control behaves in Office: click to activate [though, without the offscreen/wmf render that Office uses, since this visual interface is still updateable, just not interactable].. this annoyance plagues me daily at work)

Windows uses COM/OLE/ActiveX (and separating one from the other gets somewhat difficult at times) EXTENSIVELY. It's just like KDE and KParts. Yes, just remove the entire KParts foundation architecture, and see how well KDE works.

Extra click to interact with objects in pages. (5, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173877)

This solution sounds like flashblock.
I personally hope it is like that, because then content won't be doing dodgy stuff without consent.

Thank you Eolas :)

Re:Extra click to interact with objects in pages. (5, Informative)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173952)

No, it's not like Flashblock. The article indicates that flash movies will play as they normally do. Only that if you want to click the "Stop" button, you will actually have to click it twice - once to activate the control and a second time to click the button. Dumbdumbdumbdumbdumb.

Furthermore, the webdev can bypass this stupidity using some simple javascript to write out the tags.

Note also that Firefox and other browsers will need to implement a similar change.

Re:Extra click to interact with objects in pages. (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173986)

I noticed that as well after reading further, I think I jumped the gun a little.

When the other browsers do impliment this, I still think having it totally as a flashblock type option would be good:

Active Content:

[ ] Block ALL Active Control until I click (FlashBlock style)

[ ] Show Active Content (Still requires click to activate)

Re:Extra click to interact with objects in pages. (1)

acaspis (799831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173968)

This solution sounds like flashblock.

Isn't that patent-encumbered too ?

about time (5, Interesting)

eneville (745111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173888)

ActiveX has been a huge problem with IE (you should know this already). I hope ActiveX is removed, rather than improved. It would reduce people's dependancy on the browser, perhaps then authors will consider cross platforms, or rather, the forced to do things that are cross platform.

It could be worse, it could be .NET (4, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173962)

I hope ActiveX is removed, rather than improved. It would reduce people's dependancy on the browser


I recently saw someone at work trying to install the 7 CDs of Visual Studio .NET


After that, I came to believe maybe ActiveX isn't so bad after all...

Re:It could be worse, it could be .NET (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14174044)

I know people who have had the 7 CDs for years and still don't know what's in some of them. They are truly horrible.

Re:It could be worse, it could be .NET (1)

clodney (778910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174053)

And how, pray tell, does the fact that Visual Studio comes on 7 CDs (or 1 DVD) affect your opinion of ActiveX in any way?

Dev Studio is a development IDE with boatloads of tools, samples, and documentation. It's size has no bearing on the technologies that it is targeted at.

Re:It could be worse, it could be .NET (1)

hammackj (872358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174091)

3 cd for visual studio, 3 cd's for the entire MSDN library. 1 cd for the rest. seems reasonable to me. I am sure the CD's have redundant information on them.

One more (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174389)

3 cd for visual studio, 3 cd's for the entire MSDN library. 1 cd for the rest

And one to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them.

Re:It could be worse, it could be .NET (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174153)

A) you could just use something else. But I agree, it's hard to find a dev studio that's any good, especially for Linux. Microsoft (or Apple) win in this area, and X-Code doesn't need ActiveX ;)

B) isn't it a bit brain damaged to ship something on 7 CDs? That's like back when we shipped Windows on 15 floppies, when CDs were on the frenge of new technology. DVDs could still be considered technologically frenge devices, but when every major game console (sans Gamecube *rumble*), new PC, and Laptop ships with a dvd player.. well, it's hard to ignore it as a publication medium. Those 7 CDs would fit perfectly on a DVD with room to spare.

What this means for other browsers (5, Interesting)

drgroove (631550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173895)

Microsoft is doing this for a strategic reason - other browser vendors cannot hope to pay the patent licensing fees that Eolas will charge them. Additionally, it will be difficult for other browser vendors to change their software as quickly - remember, MS had a prototype version of an "Eolas compliant" browser at least last year.

Interesting move.

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173970)

> Additionally, it will be difficult for other browser vendors to change their software as quickly

?? Almost every browser vendor has been changing their software much more quickly than MS has been changing IE.

Re:What this means for other browsers (4, Informative)

PlayfullyClever (934896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173981)

Will eolas go for other browsers?

Probably Not! (Here's why).
The general trick if you are going for maximum profit is to first sue a small company, and get a successful precident. It costs you less to fight the action against a smaller company, and improves your chances of getting the really big money later by giving you some already recorded findings that the court will generally accept and not let your opponent delay over. Taking on Opera (for example), first, and Microsoft second or later makes more sense if it's all about the cash.

For a publicly traded company, this is even more plausable. Winning a small decision that seems to forshadow a bigger win can really drive up the price of stock without costing much at all to implement.

The chief reason people are concerned that this lawsuit might be the first of a series is probably SCO's lawsuits. After all, SCO avoided going after smaller fry first and went for IBM. However: 1. That doesn't seem to be working too well, and other companies are at least as likely on observing it to avoid the strategy as imitate it. 2. There's no indicators that Eolas has been secretly coached in this strategy, backed by (say) the veiled resources of the powerful Lynx Megacorporation in an attempt to regain browser dominance for Eolas's hidden puppeteer.

Re:What this means for other browsers (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174088)

It seems to be the general consensus that Eolas wil not go after other browsers. This is not the issue.

The problem is they can. The problem is that I have not seen anything that proves beyond reasonable doubt that they will not. What would be such proof? Offering any GPL product the royalty free use of the patent. Offering the royalty free use of the patent to any browser that is available for non-windows platforms and updated regularly. The lawyers can hash out the language, but until there is more than an empty promis, suing MS is just a publicity stunt to win the support of the ignorant masses.

If Eolas intends to provide the patent to other browsers, they should do so in formal written manner. Until they do so, I can only assume that they are starting with MS for the big win, and then will pick everyone else off one by one.

Re:What this means for other browsers (3, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174158)

Offering any GPL product the royalty free use of the patent. Offering the royalty free use of the patent to any browser that is available for non-windows platforms and updated regularly

The GPL premble states this:

We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

Where, presumably, "everyone" includes Microsoft. Granting some GPL-specific, Firefox-specific, or non-Windows-specific patent grant surely violates this intent.

Because of the GPL, Firefox will need to work-around the patent, even if Eolas is not specifically going after them.

Re:What this means for other browsers (2, Informative)

tricorn (199664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174297)

It would be licensed for everyone's free use - when used in a GPL program. All Microsoft would have to do would be to GPL Explorer.

I agree, however, that this patent should never have been granted. The fact that Microsoft can work around it in this ridiculous manner shows how stupid the patent actually is. If what Microsoft is doing ISN'T patented, it should be "obvious" that requiring "activating" a control (and ONLY for the purpose of it being interactive), or that loading a control by referencing an "external script", is an unnecessary step, and any sane person would simply look at that and say "hey, let's cut out that step".

Now, that's assuming that Microsoft's lawyers looked at the patent, and the court ruling, very VERY closely to figure out exactly what they had to disable in order to not fall under the patent. I almost think that the description of how they're working around the patent is a perfect indication of how broken the patent system currently is, and should be presented to Congress so they can fix it (along with the Blackberry patent and the harm that is doing). Patents are supposed to ENCOURAGE innovation, not stifle it (regardless of what you or I may think of ActiveX).

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174376)

> All Microsoft would have to do would be to GPL Explorer.

All they would have to do is GPL the relatively trival module responsible for sending messages between explorer and the plugins. Which would effectively give MS an out, so it probably won't happen.

I agree this was a very dumbly written patent if it can be evaded by a single mouse click or trival code change.

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

RobbieGee (827696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174106)

Taking on Opera (for example), first, (...)

Except that Opera is a Norwegian company, and we don't have the same wild conditions regarding software patents over here. Eolas may be able to sue their american office, but I'm not sure if any developing is done over there, so I'm not sure that's possible. It may though, american law seems a bit skewed in favor of that big strong kid dominating the sandbox :-\

Re:What this means for other browsers (3, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174204)

While I agree with you on the main point (Eolas doesn't have the nuts to go after other browsers), it's for a totally different reason.

Take the second biggest browser competitor to Internet Explorer; Mozilla's Firefox. Firefox's developers are not (for the most part) incorporated, or in a lot of cases, even compensated for working on Firefox. So, when you go to sue, you can't sue Mozilla Firefox; you have to sue about a thousand individuals who released patches, or specifically pick off the ones that didn't modify the plugin code in any way. You're still looking at a law team just to find these invididuals, then you have to send them out, see what company they work for, and start legal proceedings with them.

Now, what's one of the largest Firefox supporters right now? Google. Does Eolas really want to unleash Google on them? Do no evil doesn't cover corporate takeovers for patent reasonings, I fear. While some people at Eolas would praise the giant buying them, I'm sure the laid off individuals would be quite pissed about it.

But, I only unleash one scenario, which just shows you how unlikely things would be that Eolas would dare. I could see them going after Apple, as they are a single corporate entity which is easier to attack, but if Apple plays the webcore defense, their up the same creek that they would be with Firefox; finding each individual, and suing them personally, or through the company that sponsored the development.

Eolas just stuck Microsoft with the bill because it was so easy; Microsoft can't afford to go to war anymore, and these are bad times for the big M. The euro hounds want them, the Justice department grumbles here and there, Google's ganging up on them, Apple's out dazzling them, open source companies are shooting up and grabbing capital all over, and on top of all of this, they decide to enter an entire new market which hates new hardware competitors (the gaming business).

Yes, it was opportunistic. But that's how you often have to be in the software world, and yes, that's how Microsoft rose to the top in the first place.

Re:What this means for other browsers (2, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174325)

I don't know where you got the silly idea that distributed development can make mozilla.org or Apple magically immune from patent litigation. They are still distributing the software.

No, wait, I do know where you got the idea -- it's the "Not Me!" defense plagiarized from Family Circle.

> Does Eolas really want to unleash Google on them?

You're aware they just successfully beat Microsoft, right?

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

vagabond_gr (762469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174000)

other browser vendors cannot hope to pay the patent licensing fees that Eolas will charge them. Additionally, it will be difficult for other browser vendors to change their software as quickly

If I understand this correctly, the change affects ActiveX. To my knowledge, (almost?) all alternative browsers based on different engines (Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Konqueror, Safari, etc) are not supporting ActiveX at all. If you're talking about MSIE based browsers, like Maxthon [maxthon.com] I imagine the changes will be immediately available to them.

Does this story affect any other browser element besides ActiveX? I'm not familiar with the Eolas case.

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174021)

No, the patent covers any sort of browser plugin technology, including the Netscape variety (used in nearly every non-IE browser), and Firefox Extentions.

Re:What this means for other browsers (4, Funny)

crazy blade (519548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174072)

Well then, Microsoft should patent their work-around so that others can't use it!


Don't you just love software patents? :-P


Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

Mr. Shiny And New (525071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174174)

I don't know if you can classify firefox extensions in the same way as ActiveX. A Firefox extension is a change to the application itself that modifies its behaviour, such as adding menu items, changing preferences, adding new features. It happens to be pluggable instead of compiled in. The activeX controls the patent seems to apply to appear to be the type that display in the rendered html, such as windows media player and Flash. These are different than firefox extensions, so different that I think the patent wouldn't apply to them.

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174215)

Clearly there are some Firefox extentions that affect how you interact with a web page -- FlashBlock being the example I responded to already.

But what you say is equally true of ActiveX controls -- 99% installed on a Windows system have nothing to do with webpage rendering or interaction. So obviously, the discussion was being limited to those plugins or components which do affect such.

Re:What this means for other browsers (1)

tricorn (199664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174374)

ONLY interaction is being blocked (until you click on it and hit a key), and ONLY when the control is loaded directly from the HTML (the HTML running a script which loads the control is allowed).

Not having RTFP (or the court ruling over what TFP actually covers), I don't understand why specifying that you want to load some content, and the content implicitly loads a control, wouldn't also be an exception (so specifying that you want to embed a video clip or a flash animation, and THAT is what loads the control, would be OK). Only saying "load an (active) interactive control here" would violate the patent, e.g. "create movie player control; tell movie player control to play movie.mpg" would keep the player non-interactive (until you interact with it by clicking on it and pressing Enter!??!), but saying "play movie.mpg", where the browser is configured to open a movie player control would allow it to be interactive. I don't see how the latter is in any way different from saying "run script playmovie.js", where "playmovie.js" creates a movie player control and tells it to play movie.mpg.

The whole thing is just ridiculous.

Eolas!? (3, Funny)

vodkamattvt (819309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173896)

Who's the plucky sidekick now, Hercules!?!? Eolas takes care of business!

Meh. (0)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173918)

I always though Eolas was gay. As dangerous as ActiveX is, that Microsoft has to change IE to match Eolas's fashion proves it.

Eolas Son of Eorache of the Riddermark (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174066)

All Geeks Hail the Riders of Redmond!

They Should Change the Name... (0)

catdevnull (531283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173902)

ActiveX should be just renamed as "FLUSH" --f***ing little useless security hole.

...but I don't have any strong opinions about it...

Power to the user? (2, Insightful)

elwin_windleaf (643442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173905)

Unforunately, I don't have a lot of ActiveX programming experience. But from a strictly web-browsing point of view, this sounds like it might give the user a lot more control over what happens during their visits to web sites.

It sounds like this might break a few IE-based applications out there as well...

Re:Power to the user? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173937)

(the white paper) Note While inactive controls do not respond to direct user interaction; they do respond to script commands.

Probably won't break too much yet...

Better security (5, Insightful)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173912)

The paper will explain how the IE changes will be implemented and to warn developers that users won't be able to directly interact with Microsoft ActiveX controls loaded by the APPLET, EMBED or OBJECT elements without first activating the user interface with an extra mouse click.

That's what should happen anyway, stupid patent or no stupid patent. You shouldn't be able to go to a web page and have it run whatever it wants to on your computer. This won't protect against tricking the human, but it does raise the bar slightly for classic phishing popups, viruses and spyware.

I'd say Microsoft wised up a little, except that there are probably other ways to get IE to run ActiveX without user intervention.

Re:Better security (1)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174035)


So if you view an embeded movie on a webpage, and the plugin has a Play and Stop button, you should have to click in the plugin box area first, just to activate that area, then click on the button you want. In effect, you have to doubleclick on the Stop button to stop playing the movie. This doesn't have to be IE and WMP specifically. Any plugin, ActiveX or not, would have to work like that, from what I'm understanding here.

Re:Better security (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174052)

No, no, they will still run immediately. You just won't be able to *interact* with them without activating the interface.

Re:Better security (2, Insightful)

webzone (924183) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174075)

If you actually read the white paper, it is very very easy to bypass the "click to activate" protection using Javascript. Anyway, if you had read it, you'd also know that controls will continue to run and respond to script commands. The click is required to enable the user to interact with the control.

Re:Better security (4, Informative)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174147)

You're totally misunderstanding the proposal. It isn't that the ActiveX will cease automatically running. It is that after they are running, the user will need to "activate them" with a mouse click before working with them. If you want to stop a movie playing, you'd have to click once to activate it and again to stop it.

Let me guess (1)

smalljs (896225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173922)

New versions of IE will require major changes in the way ActiveX is handled by websites. But then those websites' ActiveX components will be inexcessible by older versions of IE. So to upgrade their web browser, users of Windows 95/98/ME will be forced to buy XP...

Cha-ching!

Again, I thought I saw pigs flying... (1)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173979)

But then I read this, it makes perfect sense that Microsoft would 'lose' a patent dispute.

New versions of IE will require major changes in the way ActiveX is handled by websites. But then those websites' ActiveX components will be inexcessible by older versions of IE. So to upgrade their web browser, users of Windows 95/98/ME will be forced to buy XP...

Cha-ching!


(see recent Autodesk comments for previous alleged incident of Porcine Aviation)

Dang it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14173931)

It almost said "Microsoft blows Eolas"

Workaround? (5, Insightful)

Teppy (105859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173934)

If I understand Microsoft's writeup correctly, ActiveX controls will still load without user intervention, but will require an additional click to begin accepting user input the first time.

What if someone were to write an ActiveX control that goes around and does all the clicking for other controls on the same page?

Who's your daddy now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14173935)

Did Microsoft just get 0wned?

People are still using IE? (2, Funny)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173939)

Easy, easy joke...

Does this actually do anything? (3, Insightful)

ivoras (455934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173949)

Does this actually do anything? From the MS article: the ActiveX controls will STILL load and execute their code, it's only that their interface will be disabled until user clicks on it. The means almost all access to system calls, registry etc. will still work for AX controls.

I can't see a notable security benefit in this...

Re:Does this actually do anything? (4, Informative)

spideyct (250045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174023)

What makes you think security benefit was one of the goals? Its about changing the current implementation so that it no longer violates a patent.

Re:Does this actually do anything? (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174122)

Ok, just checking :)

Re:Does this actually do anything? (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174120)

I can't see a notable security benefit in this...

Who said that this move had anything to do with security?

Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (0, Redundant)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173956)

I really hate MS in that sense. They are just stubborn money holders. I hate them not because they produce buggy software, and dictate every single user to use their software, but their ruining the internet where nobody can do anything about it. I still get spams and worms due to their vulnerable software, and I still encounter buggy web pages due to their incompatible browser's wrong impression on web developers. I wish everyone is more aware of this situation and change the way things go.

Re:Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14174009)

Why don't YOU switch to Linux instead of bitching about it?

Re:Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174048)

I'm a Linux user for like 5 years. But this does not prevent me from those junk mails, and hours telling people to correct their web pages so as to I can browse them.

Re:Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (0, Flamebait)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174132)

I'm a Linux user for like 5 years.


And a speaker of English for like how long?

Re:Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174243)

Probably like much longer.

Things like that are one of the MINOR speech failures you can come across. The one I hate the most at the moment - because I have to put up with it regularly - is one lecturer's habit to end everything with a rising inflection? So everything's a question?

Re:Sick of ActiveX and MS *Technologies* (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174423)

I'm not a native speaker as obviously. And if you understood what I mean, that's the all I need for English. If you're get annoyed people making mistakes in your pretty language, start a campaign for changing world domination plan of your country. What I wonder is how many language do you speak perfectly apart from English?

Seems to be a poor decision... (4, Insightful)

torokun (148213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173988)


MS must be holding a really bad grudge at this point to go through all this trouble rather than licensing the patent.

Re:Seems to be a poor decision... (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174184)

Or maybe they could be making a stand.
Everybody knows that MS has enough cash in the warchest to force litigation against an opponent in all but the most clear cut cases.
When someone else now has a patent that can catch MS out, perhaps they're now making the stand to say "We can live without patents you bring against us. We will not pay you. You can sink your money into litigation to say we can pay you or change our product, and we will change our product. Nobody makes money out of Microsoft unless we say so."
Something like this may make other companies think twice about trying to force MS into compliance, knowing that it's going to cost them to obtain it, and with no big licensing payback.

Re:Seems to be a poor decision... (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174311)

I'm pretty sure Eolas has made it a public point that they don't want to license this to Microsoft. Specifically it seems they want MS to suffer, for sneaking away with the browser market in the first place. They've also (sort of) promised that they won't go after other browsers.

Microsoft Bows to Eolas, Revamps IE... (0, Flamebait)

kitkatsavvy (921998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14173995)

George W. Bush bows down to MS, revamps peanut brains in all of MS staff..

Not just ActiveX (3, Insightful)

compupc1 (138208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174038)

Why are so many people acting like this is somehow some great strike against ActiveX? Aside from the fact that ActiveX controls will still run (you just have to click an extra time to interact with their UI), keep in mind that this applies to ANYTHING loaded with APPLET, EMBED, or OBJECT tags. That includes Java applets for sure (which are protected by the sandbox). It very well might also include Flash, SVG, etc. As I understand it, this covers basically any high-interactivity component of any web page, on any platform, with any browser if affected. This is just Microsoft's solution to the problem. Other browsers will need to come up with solutions as well.

The Patent Office getting sued too? (2, Interesting)

Lolaine (262966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174079)

Has anybody noticed that for seeing the patent's application images [uspto.gov] you have to use a plugin? Will be the patent office get sued too? Curious ...

Re:The Patent Office getting sued too? (1)

tricorn (199664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174420)

What plugin would that be? It's just displays a GIF. What interactive controls do you think that page is loading?

Don't just change it (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174089)

Die, ActiveX, die!

Microsft protecting their own patents (2, Insightful)

ACNiel (604673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174115)

The whole reason why MS bowed to this incredibly bad patent, was in their own interest.

It is obvious to everyone that Eolas doesn't have a legitamate patent. But MS couldn't afford to beat them in court. If MS won, then it would illegitamize most of MS's patent portfolio of similarly bad patents.

Just a thought.

XHTML 2? (2, Informative)

rollercoaster375 (935898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174133)

How does IE plan to support XHTML 2.0 if the is going to require a click to be viewed?

For those less-informed about XHTML 2, will be replacing

Re:XHTML 2? (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174193)

Does the XHTML 2.0 specification say that "the client MUST display the object here, now, immediately, right the way the author intended, with no extra clicking whatsoever"?

I could give an easy guess: probably not.

Probably a move to avoid a judgment of willfulness (2, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174142)

This is probably a move to avoid a judgment of "willful infringement" in case they lose on appeal.
A finding of willfulness can result in enhanced damages (up to triple) plus attorney's fees (which would otherwise not be recoverable).
One way to show willfulness is if a company continues to infringe after a judgment of infringement.
The statute is 35 USC sections 284, 285
In either event the court may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/document s/appxl_35_U_S_C_284.htm [uspto.gov]

Thank You Microsoft, W3C (2, Informative)

theodp (442580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174148)

Microsoft and the W3C's decision to shut out the public [slashdot.org] on the Eolas patent reexam looks worse than ever, eh?

Accessability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14174190)

Hmm, so you can activate them using the accessability interface, that is probably what people will do (perhaps using the IE greasemonkey equivilent to automate this).
Anyway three cheers to the patent system...

EOLAS = Patent farm (2, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174343)

These guys don't have any actual products but rather some vague patents that should never have been granted given prior art.

They are parasites feeding off the innovation of other companies. Folks, this does not just affect ActiveX but every other plug-in technology and applets.

There really should be an RICO-like law to prevent people from forming companies whose sole revenue source is through patents. They should be required to be actively producing something in the area they have patents in. This is nothing more than corporate racketeering.

Great Plan, Microsoft! (1)

jack_csk (644290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174348)

Their plan avoids patent infringement, yet at the same time rebrand the workaround as a security measure.

Fine example of software patents worthlessness (2, Insightful)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174402)

Now that Microsoft can't freely use the patented method, it isn't going to pay Eolas to use its patented method, it's going to work around it.

What does Eolas gain from its patent? Nothing.

What does the end user gain from this? Nothing, except hassle (OK, clicking a dialog box isn't much of a bother, but there isn't going to be the seemless integration of components that people have been used to).

Software patents are pathetic, especially pointless ones such as this.

If everybody agrees to create work-arounds - regardless of how much hassle it gives end-users - hopefully everybody will begin to loathe software patents, and will all join up to put an end to this pathetic excuse for the stifling of software progress and ease-of-use.

Microsoft Bows to Eolas, Revamps IE (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174410)

And here I was, going through TFA to find a paragraph about IE getting tabs...

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

jofi (908156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14174418)

I think we need more people in the USPTO that have IT and/or programming backgrounds to handle patents dealing with computers. Even if you hate Microsoft, you can't possibly agree with Eolas.

So if I am getting this right, Firefox et al won't require me to activate the UI controls even after i've installed a version of IE that does? Hopefully MS provides a way of returning said controls back to their old behavior instead of this new one.

Not to mention that in Europe, Microsoft no longer has control of programming whatever they please, they have to get the EU's governmental approval.

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