Definition of ActiveX

ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that allows developers to create interactive content and applications for the web. It employs reusable software components or controls that can be used in various applications and programming languages. ActiveX controls have largely been replaced by newer technologies, but are still used in some legacy applications and Internet Explorer.


The phonetics of the keyword “ActiveX” are as follows: /ˈæktɪvˌɛks/

Key Takeaways

  1. ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that enables interactive content using various programming languages, mainly for Web browsing and Windows applications.
  2. ActiveX controls offer increased functionality in websites and applications, such as multimedia, but can pose security risks if not properly managed or updated.
  3. Modern web browsers progressively limit ActiveX support due to its security issues and being replaced with more secure alternatives like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Importance of ActiveX

ActiveX is an important technology term because it refers to a set of software components developed by Microsoft, designed to provide interactive and rich functionality in web applications.

These components are reusable and can be easily integrated into various applications, such as Internet Explorer or Microsoft Office, enhancing their feature set and user experience.

By allowing developers to create interactive web content, ActiveX helps bridge the gap between web and desktop applications, enabling a seamless experience for users.

However, it is also worth noting that security concerns have emerged about ActiveX controls, leading to a decline in usage and the rise of other web technologies, such as HTML5 and JavaScript.

Despite these concerns, ActiveX played a crucial role in the early development of dynamic web content and remains a relevant term in the technology landscape.


ActiveX is a technology developed by Microsoft to enhance the functionality and interactivity of websites and applications. The primary purpose of ActiveX is to enable web developers to create dynamic content that can directly interact with the user’s system. It achieves this by allowing developers to embed their software components, known as ActiveX controls, into web pages and applications.

These controls can be written in various programming languages, such as C++, and can include tasks like toolbars, animations, security protocols, or interactive forms. As a result, ActiveX lets developers design engaging and responsive web experiences, improving users’ interactions with the content and increasing overall usability. Beyond web browsing, ActiveX has been widely utilized in Windows-based applications and Microsoft Office.

It has been particularly pivotal in the automation and customization of Office products, enabling developers to create tailored solutions and tools that cater to users’ specific requirements. Additionally, ActiveX controls can interact with a user’s system to run software updates, access local resources, or communicate with other applications. However, due to its direct access to system resources, some security concerns have arisen over the years, leading to the implementation of stricter security policies around the technology.

Despite these concerns, ActiveX remains an integral part of many online and offline applications, enriching user experiences and simplifying complex tasks.

Examples of ActiveX

ActiveX is a technology developed by Microsoft that enables interactive content and allows software components to interact within web browsers and other applications. Here are three real-world examples of ActiveX technology:

Internet Explorer: ActiveX is closely integrated with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. It facilitates the use of multimedia content, like embedded media players and interactive web applications, in web pages. For example, ActiveX was commonly used to play flash animations and videos through the Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Office applications: ActiveX is also used in various Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to enable additional functionality. An example includes using ActiveX controls (such as buttons and checkbox controls) to create interactive forms and other customized content in these applications.

Windows security updates: ActiveX has been used by Microsoft to deliver security updates to Windows users. Windows Update, the operating system’s update service, relies on ActiveX technology to check for updates and install them on the user’s computer. By using ActiveX, Microsoft ensures that its updates are seamlessly integrated with the system and handled by trusted components.

ActiveX FAQ

What is ActiveX?

ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that allows applications to share information and functionality with one another. It is commonly used in web browsers to enable rich interactive content, such as animation, audio, and video playback.

How does ActiveX work?

ActiveX relies on re-usable software components called ActiveX controls, which can be embedded in web pages or other applications. These controls add interactivity and complex features to web pages, such as data entry forms and multimedia playback. Each ActiveX control has its own set of properties, methods, and events that can be customized by developers to achieve the desired functionality.

How do I install an ActiveX control?

Installing an ActiveX control typically requires the user to grant permission for the control to be installed. When you encounter a web page that requires an ActiveX control, the browser will typically prompt you to allow the control to be installed. You can also manually install ActiveX controls by downloading them from the developer’s website or another trusted source.

Are ActiveX controls safe?

While many ActiveX controls are safe to use, malicious controls have been developed that can compromise your computer’s security. It is important to only install controls from trusted sources that are signed by a reputable developer. Always keep your system and browser up-to-date with security patches, and use a reputable antivirus software to protect against threats.

How do I enable or disable ActiveX controls in my browser?

Enabling or disabling ActiveX controls in a browser depends on the specific browser you are using. In Internet Explorer, you can manage ActiveX settings through the “Internet Options” menu. Here, navigate to the “Security” tab, choose a security zone (e.g. “Internet”), and click the “Custom level” button. In the “Settings” window, you can enable or disable specific ActiveX controls. For other browsers, consult the browser’s help documentation for instructions on managing ActiveX controls.

Related Technology Terms

  • COM (Component Object Model)
  • OLE (Object Linking and Embedding)
  • ActiveX Controls
  • ActiveX Scripting
  • ActiveX Document

Sources for More Information

  • Microsoft Docs –
  • Computer Hope –
  • TechTarget –
  • GeeksforGeeks –

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