Microsoft drops IE's 'click to activate' nag

Eolas deal gives Microsoft green light, will issue tweaked IE in December

Microsoft will strip a "click to activate" warning from Internet Explorer 7 starting next month, a company product manager said Thursday, a side benefit of the settlement that Microsoft struck with Eolas Technologies in August.

Next month, Microsoft will preview the modified Internet Explorer (IE) that eliminates the warning that's been popping up on screens when users select multimedia content, such as clicking on a link to a Flash file or a PDF document. That notice first appeared in IE in April 2006, when Microsoft began requiring users to approve ActiveX controls the first time they were run from the browser.

The settlement with Eolas -- it followed a US$521 million judgment in 2003 against Microsoft in a patent infringement dispute between the two companies -- paved the way for Microsoft to license Eolas' technologies, which in turn meant that IE could ditch "click to activate."

The Internet Explorer Automatic Component Activation Preview will appear in the Microsoft Download Center next month, said Pete LePage, senior product manager, in a posting on the IE team's blog. The tweaked IE will also be rolled into the next betas of Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3, LePage added. Finally, the changes will be pushed to all IE 7 users in April 2008 as part of that month's scheduled updates. Users, however, can decline the update.

"It's important to note that this change will require no modifications to existing Web pages, and no new actions for developers creating new pages," said LePage. "We are simply reverting to the old behavior."

Web site developers will appreciate that. When Microsoft modified IE, it issued instructions to site designers spelling out the change they had to make.

"Once Internet Explorer is updated, all pages that currently require 'click to activate' will no longer require the control to be activated," said LePage. "They'll just work."

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Gregg Keizer

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