Definition of ActiveX in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is ActiveX?

ActiveX is an umbrella term for Microsoft technology for building and using software components. Microsoft ActiveX is built on the Component Object Model (COM) and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) technologies, which enable software components to interact across a network.

This software framework created by Microsoft adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly from the World Wide Web.

Microsoft introduced ActiveX in 1996. In principle, ActiveX is not dependent on Microsoft Windows operating systems, but in practice, most ActiveX controls only run on Windows. Most also require the client to be running on an x86-based computer because ActiveX controls contain compiled code.


Origin of the term ActiveX

The term ActiveX was first coined at the Internet Professional Developers Conference (Internet PDC) in 1996 and was based on the conference slogan “Activate the Internet.” ActiveX does not replace OLE but broadens and enlarges it to include the Internet and intranet technologies. ActiveX is supported by most Microsoft development and productivity applications, including Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Office.

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