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ActiveX [ ˌæktɪvˈɛks ] refers to a software component model from Microsoft for active content . ActiveX components extend the Component Object Model (COM) standards from Microsoft.


ActiveX can only be used within the Windows operating system family and requires the use of a COM-capable web browser , since ActiveX objects contain already compiled and therefore platform-dependent machine code . Until Internet Explorer was discontinued for the Mac , ActiveX controls compiled especially for Mac OS Classic could also be used there.

Areas of application

It contains software components for other applications , macro programming and development programs; they can be used equally in different programming languages ​​and environments. For example, some programs use Internet Explorer to display information. The ActiveX component ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) is used, for example, to access databases.

In addition to Internet Explorer , where it is often used, there are many other areas of application. The ActiveX technology of Visual Basic (up to and including version 6.0) and its offshoot VBA is used extensively - primarily for surface design. Windows Live Hotmail also used ActiveX.

Microsoft Update

ActiveX is essential for manual updates of Microsoft software (Microsoft Update) via Internet Explorer.


The use of ActiveX components in web browsers is controversial because the ActiveX component model does not provide for its own security functions. Security must therefore be ensured by the developer of the component. ActiveX is not isolated in a sandbox like JavaScript or Java , but runs unsecured on the computer. For example, you could read sensitive data from the hard drive by visiting a specially prepared website. In addition, thanks to the compatibility with COM  , components that have not been specially developed for browsers can also be used as ActiveX components in Internet Explorer, which represents a further security problem.

Discontinuation of ActiveX support

Microsoft Edge does not support ActiveX, with which Microsoft has unofficially announced the end of ActiveX technology.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence