ARCHIVED: What are ActiveX and ActiveX controls?
Microsoft uses the term ActiveX to describe a number of its COM technologies. However, when most people say "ActiveX", they are really referring to ActiveX controls, Microsoft's answer to Java applets. Like applets, programs that use ActiveX controls run on the client computer, not the server.
ActiveX controls are small program building blocks that can be used to create distributed applications that work over the Internet through web browsers. Examples include customized applications for gathering data, viewing certain kinds of files, and displaying animation.
The ActiveX programming specification is an extension of Microsoft Windows and the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) API. ActiveX applications are used mainly with Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser.
ActiveX and ActiveX controls are similar in that they are both designed to be downloaded and executed by web browsers. The difference is that while ActiveX controls can interface with Microsoft Windows more effectively than Java, they offer very little cross-platform support. For examples, see CNET's library of ActiveX controls.
For more about ActiveX and related technologies, visit the Microsoft Component Object Model Technologies page.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.