Friday, November 09, 2007

IE's Plugin Activation Merry-Go-Round

A while ago Microsoft and Eolas had a small argument over who owns the rights to the technologies that allow plugins to play in MS Internet Explorer. As a consequence of that falling out IE was "updated" so users had to "click to activate" active content (Flash, Quicktime etc). The workaround was for developers to embed their content using external javascript. It was a big deal and for those of us who noticed it involved quite a bit of work hunting down all affected projects. That was April 2006. Well now the nice people at Microsoft and Eolas have had a chat and an agreement has been struck. So they are going to "update" the browser again so it works just like it originally did. This will start to happen in April, 2008. Though it will take a while for there to be a consistent base of users with this behaviour. I imagine it would be easiest and safest to pretent this new update isn't happening and keep using the external javascript.

This disagreement between MS and Eolas is about money (and probably quite a lot of money) and thats the way the world is. But the internet is bigger than these two companies and this argument has had a significant impact beyond the pay packets of their lawyers. I doubt there has been an internet user anywhere who wasn't affected by this process in some way. Surely they could have continued their negotiations without making us all suffer for it. I guess I don't expect companies like Microsoft to care but a bit of community consideration once in a while probably wouldn't hurt their bottom line.


Anonymous said...

I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, but in this case I think the EOLAS click behavior was actually an anti-Flash move, and hurting all the other ActiveX controls in existance was just collateral damage. Now that MS has Silverlight, it tipped the balance toward their interests for it to be fixed.

geekglue said...

Like yourself I like to avoid conspiracy theories. But it's certainly convenient that they've settled this now Silverlight has reached a full release. It could just be that now it affects one of their own products they actually noticed that it was a problem. Therefore, not so much a conspiracy as head in the sand ignorance.