I don’t understand why everyone’s up in arms about Microsoft removing support for older Netscape-style plugins from the latest upgrade to Internet Explorer. Yes, it’s annoying, I’ll grant you that; now, I have to download QuickTime movies in order to watch them. But strangely, other plugins haven’t been broken (like RealPlayer and Acrobat, at least on my machine), so I’m finding it hard to blame Microsoft, rather than Apple, for this one. And has anyone ever demanded that Netscape add support for ActiveX components? Once again, it smells like hatred, rather than logic, is driving this outrage.


There is an ActiveX plug-in for Netscape.

• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Aug 20, 2001, 1:30 AM

I don’t know about “up in arms”, though I was pretty irritated when suddenly I couldn’t view anything in quicktime (except Quicktime VRs, which I still think is pretty weird).

But, since it was Microsoft that released the Service Pack (and actually, I never installed it purposely. I have IE set to launch to a blank page and every now and again I see it call up the MS site, but never display anything but the about:blank. I’ve made the assumption that it’s IE updating itself. I could be horribly wrong. (: ), I’m a bit confused as to how this is Apple’s fault.

I mean, they were going to have do work up a new version of QT for winXP and its out-of-the-box browsers anyway, this was just wildly unexpected and fairly annoying. (Note: Quicktime 4 can be downloaded from c|net’s download.com as it seems to work with the new service pack for IE.)

• Posted by: .sara on Aug 20, 2001, 3:06 AM

The logic behind it being Apple’s fault is Active X style plugins have always been the default in IE. As Jason alluded to, other major multimedia vendors (Macromedia, Real) have had Active X style plugins for a while now. (go look at the source of any flash page, you’ll probably see both an ‘object’ tag and an embed tag)

Still, this is kind of a skeezy move by microsoft. Enough to get up in a single arm about at least. Reasons this bothers me.

1. More than Quicktime.

While Quicktime is the most widespread plug-in to be affected, there are others. Lets say a company decided to go with IE 5.5 for an intranet, but they had a legacy Netscape style plug-in that served some internal function. They now have to find a new way to accomplish what the plug-in did, or forfeit all future IE updates (including security patches).

2. Little Warning.

There was no (as far as I’ve seen) warning that Microsoft was going to drop support for non-active X plug-ins. They probably left more than one developer scrambling this week.

3. Service Pack.

Service Packs add functionality and fix bugs. They’re not supposed to remove functionality unless there’s a compelling reason (security breach, performance issues etc.). I haven’t seen any compelling technical reason for Microsoft to do this.

Over the weekend I had to reinstall my OS, and my Windows CD has IE 5.0 on it. I’d like to update to 5.5 and all the security patches that go along with it, but can’t unless I want to loose plug-in support.

Yes, the slashdot types overblow everything Microsoft does … . but just because they’re not objective doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t acting belligerent.

• Posted by: Alan on Aug 21, 2001, 12:08 AM

Well, gosh, how about, my users are calling me to complain that my software, which uses a plugin, is all of a sudden not working, and demanding that I fix the plugin ASAP because they can’t uninstall SP2? What do you think they say when I point the finger at Microsoft? How about when I ask them to pay for the work required to produce the new version?

How about, I use a plugin because the thing has to work on both Mac and Windows, as well as in both Netscape and IE?

Now we will convert to ActiveX, raising the cost of supporting Mac relative to Windows, hastening the day when we simply can’t afford to support Mac any more.

A software developer’s viewpoint…

• Posted by: Stewart Rubenstein on Aug 22, 2001, 9:41 PM
Please note that comments automatically close after 60 days; the comment spammers love to use the older, rarely-viewed pages to work their magic. If comments are closed and you want to let me know something, feel free to use the contact page!