Now that Microsoft has shipped a new update of its Internet Explorer, multimedia content and the way it’s rendered on Web pages could be altered forever — and could affect the industry by disabling interaction with many flash advertisements.
As a result of the company’s multimillion dollar patent dispute with Chicago firm Eolas Technologies, Inc, the new IE patch —released Feb. 28th—means that Internet Explorer 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.
According to PC Magazine, some widely deployed programs that use ActiveX controls within the browser include Adobe’s Reader and Flash, Apple’s QuickTime Player, Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, RealNetworks’ RealPlayer and Sun’s JVM (Java Virtual Machine).
Microsoft first detailed its modification plans beginning December 2, 2005, notifying its ActiveX control vendors, OEM partners and content providers of modifications that will affect all future releases of Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
The patent itself, which is referred to as the ‘906 patent, was first licensed exclusively to Eolas in 1998 and describes ways that a Web browser can use external applications. In September, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Microsoft’s attempt to invalidate the patent, despite industry fears that this could disrupt multimedia efforts online.
But the Buddy Group founder Pete Deutschman tells ADOTAS that it’s best not to overreact, and instead adjust. “When dealing with the interactive space, there are constant changes to technology and standards,” he says. “This is yet another one of those changes which everyone will have to adjust to. It’s up to us, the leaders in the space, to keep cooler heads with what is appearing to be a media frenzy, and look for solutions as opposed to ‘sky-is-falling’ predictions.”
Deutschman continues, “It appears as of now that educating the end user on how the newly enforced ‘optional’ settings affect their online experience will be the paramount challenge for all of us in the interactive space. It is too soon to determine how this will affect the creative and user experience but we have already put a team in place to determine the best approach. It all comes down to managing expectations (publisher, advertiser and most important the end user).”