What is ActiveX?

ActiveX was launched by Microsoft in 1996. It was created as an expansion of their Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies. ActiveX is a model used to define reusable controls or software components that carry out a specific function or set of functions in the Microsoft Windows operating system. ActiveX controls operate independently of the programming language utilized to employ them. A software program can be created from one or more ActiveX controls to provide functionality. ActiveX is often used for increased website functionality.


ActiveX controls serve as tiny program building blocks used for creating distributed applications that function over the Internet via web browsers. These include personalized applications for viewing specific file types, displaying animation and gathering data. Programmers may write ActiveX controls using the C#, C++, Visual Basic, ATL, Borland Delphi and MFC environments or languages. Examples of ActiveX controls include the Internet Explorer web browser, list boxes, command buttons and dialog boxes.


The essential component which makes ActiveX work is the COM. This component works as a distributed COM and helps in writing a program to function in an ActiveX environment when implemented in a network. Aside from COM, ActiveX also uses other components that provide it with the capability to interact with other communication programs.

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ActiveX controls are similar to Java applets in that they were both made so that web browsers can download and subsequently execute them. However, ActiveX components can only officially run with the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Internet Explorer, while Java applets can operate on virtually all platforms. With ActiveX controls, programmers can allow a higher level of command over Windows than Java applets can achieve.

Malware like spywares and viruses sometimes use ActiveX controls as a vehicle to enter susceptible and poorly guarded computer systems. Java applets may be used as well for malware attacks, although this rarely happens.


Every so often, newer versions of the ActiveX technology are released to offer support to the increasingly widening range of programs used in work and home environments. The ActiveX technology has a significant impact on programs that work in the background and programs utilized for online activities such as communication.


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