ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly in the context of the World Wide Web. It was introduced in 1996 and is commonly used in its Windows operating system. In principle it is not dependent on Microsoft Windows, but in practice, most ActiveX controls require either Microsoft Windows or a Windows emulator. Most also require the client to be running on Intel x86 hardware, because they contain compiled code.
Many Microsoft Windows applications — including many of those from Microsoft itself, such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Windows Media Player — use ActiveX controls to build their feature-set and also encapsulate their own functionality as ActiveX controls which can then be embedded into other applications. Internet Explorer also allows the embedding of ActiveX controls in web pages.
However, ActiveX will not work on all platforms, so using ActiveX controls to implement essential functionality of a web page restricts its usefulness.
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