Microsoft Vs. Eolas Redux: What the Now-required Browser Changes Mean for Consumers

The Internet is in flux as far as web interactivity is concerned. How millions of people interact with active online content on their computers is in danger of changing forever. And it’s all because of a little-known company with an exclusive hold on a patent with a university – and it’s well-documented legal rivalry with the world’s largest software maker.

Why is this happening? Basically, it has to do with changes to the ActiveX plugin architecture in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer that will affect every person who uses the Internet within Windows. And unfortunately, it’s unavoidable because of the Vole’s legal spat with Eolas Technology, which maintains that it has exclusive access to a patent that, although comparable to prior art of such functionality in all kinds of software, has been upheld by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Vole has been unable to do anything about it – and the appeals submitted to the USPTO from Redmond keep falling on deaf ears. Basically speaking, Microsoft has long lost the battle – and could very well lose the war next. So with this in mind, the Vole has decided to make changes to Internet Explorer despite its intention to make one last appeal to the U.S. legal system so that if the patent showdown hits the fan, the company will have workarounds in their place well in advance.

The results will be felt immediately, as Java applets, Flash movies, PDF files – and anything else that requires a browser plugin – will be forced to require a click-to-activate function, unless the object tag is written into the HTML document on the fly through code contained within an external JavaScript resource (a technique Microsoft has designated as the official workaround for avoiding most of these changes). That means that it could become necessary to click a Flash movie used for navigation, and then click the desired link contained within to actually navigate the page. And this will undoubtedly confuse many users at first who expect Internet Explorer to behave a certain way when plugins are referenced by a web page – or at least until they realize such confusion is now an unfortunately-necessary evil to be subjected to.

Is this a sign of things to come? Is this how the Internet will be expected to work for all users on Windows? Will even Microsoft’s competitors – Opera, Firefox and the like – be forced to make their own, incompatible changes should Eolas com after them next??? All I can say is to just get used to it – it’s not entirely Redmond’s fault that this has happened. The way everybody uses the Internet, regardless of the browser – and regardless of their computer’s operating system – is on the verge of a dangerous, unprecedented series of change-of-functionality requirements.

And that’s a scary thought.

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