Question: Click to run an ActiveX control??

November 17th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

A lot of people seem to be wondering what it means when they see “Click to run an ActiveX control on this webpage” or “Click to activate and use this control” being displayed by Internet Explorer on certain web pages:

Activating ActiveX

Activating ActiveX

Most people believe that this is a security warning. And when we’re confused about what to do on the Web, we’ve been told time and again to hit cancel or escape. The web equivalent of just say no. But with this box there isn’t an option to get out of it – you have to click OK. And this is a worry. And an annoyance. What is it all about?

It’s important to note that this ISN’T a problem with your PC or your browser.  It was done by design as it was introduced as a response to a court case between Microsoft and another company called EOLAS which held a patent on browser plug-in technology (for more information, visit Wikipedia). The button is just the settlement of that case in that it makes you the user switch it on, rather than the browser switching it on itself.

So what do you do with it? You click it. Next time you’re feeling mildly irritated at this button, just think how much the lawyers got paid and you’ll find you’re mildly annoyed instead! Unless you’re a lawyer … in which case you’ll find you’re mildly salivating and wondering if anyone ever patented the word blog! 😉

What do you do with an interactive control? To activate an interactive control, either click it or use the TAB key to set focus on it and then press the SPACEBAR or the ENTER key.  Interactive controls loaded from external script files immediately respond to user interaction and do not need to be activated. (And don’t forget to think about all the salivating lawyers!)

The reason that you see this problem is because the webmaster of the site you are visiting hasn’t made the necessary changes to their code to prevent this from happening.  (If you’re here looking for workarounds, here are a couple of sites offering potential solutions.)

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 17th, 2006 at 2:26 pm and is filed under Browsers, Your Questions Answered. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Question: Click to run an ActiveX control??”

  1. Vexentricity » Blog Archive » Click to run an ActiveX control on this webpage Says:

    […] I have a question though – since Microsoft decided that pestering the user with a dialog box was a good way to go in this case, why not add a second option to the dialog box – a Cancel option. That way users would get the option whether or not to run the ActiveX control. It might make people think a bit more about security issues surrounding ActiveX.

    Additionally, as far as most users were concerned, Microsoft introduced this change silently. One day users just start seeing this box appear. Think usability! How about some help people? We’re already telling people to be on the lookout for suspect dialog boxes and you introduce one without making it clear what it’s about. Sloppy

  2. TeaseSava Says:

    In most cases a product’s rating went down, expanding the range between highest and lowest rated.Unlike Kaspersky, Symantec provides Norton users with little explanation of its features or settings, either in the configuration settings or on its technical support section. Also we don’t like Norton’s dependency on Internet Explorer to explain Help items or services provided by Symantec (windows pop up in IE even when Firefox is your default browser), or that fee-based services have once again crept into the technical support section. Having improved a lot
    last year in Symantec’s flagship antivirus product, it makes sense we’d see more modest enhancements for this year’s Norton AntiVirus 2008. While Norton

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