IE5.5 SP2 cuts out plug-in support.
August 20, 2001 7:16 PM   Subscribe

IE5.5 SP2 cuts out plug-in support. When users downloaded and installed the new service pack for IE5.5, they found that some of their favorite plug-ins didn't work anymore, including Quicktime. Why? Microsoft stopped supporting them in favor of active-x components. Can anyone explain why this is a good idea?
posted by Hackworth (24 comments total)
Cringely has some speculation on his weekly column

not sure if it's even half credible but its something
posted by thadk at 7:27 PM on August 20, 2001

To cut the microsoft appologists off at the pass . . . just a reminder that active x controls have been the preferred 'plug-in' method for embedding content in IE for a long time, which is why all the flash and shockwave movies still work.

Not that that makes this a good thing.
posted by alana at 7:42 PM on August 20, 2001

Poor old QuickTime... Microsoft still wants to knife the baby.
posted by D at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2001

if ie5.5 has no plug-in support, does ie6's beta have the support? will it after the program ends its beta period?
posted by moz at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2001

it's not a "good idea", it's a Microsoft idea. Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:11 PM on August 20, 2001

Conspiracy theories aside, the strange part about it was that it was bundled in A SERVICE PACK. Corporate intranet developers are having a wonderful time making sure that no users install the update therefore disabling access to production systems. I can see this in a major release, but in a SP?
posted by machaus at 8:46 PM on August 20, 2001

Apple has had how long to make an ActiveX version of their plug-in? One that could use the ActiveX "security" model to transparently download and install anything up to and including an entire copy of QuickTime if the user needed one and was willing to wait?

Well, of course you can't really do that on the Mac, so it's obvious why they didn't bother until now.
posted by kindall at 8:49 PM on August 20, 2001

ActiveX doesn't even exist on the Mac platform. How the hell are we supposed to do anything if MS is taking plugins out of IE?
posted by aaron at 9:01 PM on August 20, 2001

This problem exists in IE 6 too
posted by riffola at 9:26 PM on August 20, 2001

ActiveX doesn't exist on the Mac, but this doesn't apply to the Mac version of IE. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) If you hate Microsoft, there's always Opera and Mozilla.
posted by gleemax at 9:46 PM on August 20, 2001

Actually, Microsoft did publish an ActiveX spec for Macintosh, and the Mac version of Internet Explorer supports it. The browser itself is available to applications as an ActiveX control; this is how Eudora and Entourage display HTML messages, by calling upon the ActiveX version of the Internet Explorer rendering engine.

Nobody but Microsoft makes any ActiveX controls for the Mac, though a handful of non-Microsoft Mac programs do seem to use OLE. (PageMaker is one.)
posted by kindall at 9:52 PM on August 20, 2001

Oops. Still, the Mac version of IE isn't up to 5.5 (it's at 5.0, maybe 5.1), so I'm sure this doesn't apply to Mac IE.
posted by gleemax at 10:25 PM on August 20, 2001

Yeah, the official IE version number for Mac is 5.0, and there's a 5.1 beta with Mac OS X. My guess is that this'll go final by the 10.1 relase of Mac OS X, due next month.

Although some Microsoft guys did release a "5.5b1" at MacHack a couple years ago, it never was official.
posted by kindall at 11:19 PM on August 20, 2001

There was some fooforaw at M$ a couple years back about separating "service packs" of collected hotfixes and "software updates" including new versions and completely new add-ins.

Predictably, it was soon forgotten.
posted by dhartung at 3:57 AM on August 21, 2001

To be fair, the plug-in technology was that defined in Netscape 2.0 or so. It hasn't changed or grown appreciably since then nor is it an especially good plug-in model, although it is portable.

To be fair, the plug-in technology was a mechanism by which MS could release IE and immediately have compatability with all existing NS add-on technologies, along with a competitive technology which by its very nature either doesn't run at all or runs very poorly on other operating systems to making it much harder for someone to do the same thing to them.

To be fair, it was only a matter of time before they dropped support for someone else's standard in favor of their own proprietary approach.

And all this surprises you how?
posted by plinth at 4:06 AM on August 21, 2001

Couldn't someone write a Netscape Plugin Activex Plugin (if that makes sense)?
posted by bregdan at 7:07 AM on August 21, 2001

To be fair, MS have since admitted that it was a screw up and that they're working on fixing the problem after it was pointed out to them by Apple. See ZDNet for more details.

To be fair, as others have noted, ActiveX has been the preferred method for quite a while.

To be fair, have any of you tried to use plug-ins with Netscape 6? It just plain doesn't work for anything and is probably the most retrograde step in browser design ever made. Even Apple's QuickTime download area has a note basically stating "If you're using Netscape 6 then don't bother downloading QuickTime because it won't work with NS 6..."
posted by Option1 at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2001

Well, that's certainly interesting. I've just installed the QT5 plugin on NS 6.1.0, and while it doesn't work all that *well* (it worked better on a different machine, with 6.1beta2, so I suspect it might be a local environment thing) it certainly dos indeed *work*.

But this is just another step in Micros~1's grand plan to (if you look at it from *their* point of view) take over the world, or (if you look at it from *the rest of the world's* point of view) make themselves even more useless, immaterial and moot than they already are.
posted by baylink at 7:47 AM on August 21, 2001

Hah.. Cringely again. I love all his speculation without any facts to back him up. I love how he doesn't know what the ---- he's talking about.

It would require the removal of Java and the abandonment of APPLET and EMBED tags from future versions of Windows. It would require the adoption of an entirely new architecture for modular programs using XML. It would require .NET.

The APPLET tag was deprecated and the EMBED tag isn't part of the W3C's HTML spec. Get your facts straight buddy.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2001

If you hate Microsoft, there's always Opera and Mozilla

That's the computer-world equivalent of the "America: love it or leave it" argument. I don't want to use Mozilla. I want Microsoft to stop trying to destroy the free market.
posted by jpoulos at 9:49 AM on August 21, 2001

I want Microsoft to stop trying to destroy the free market.

The same way that Mozilla destroyed the free market by not supporting ActiveX? Since when do we require companies to support their competitors' proprietary, out-of-date extensions?
posted by anildash at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2001

For what it's worth, Apple already has an ActiveX QuickTime plugin in development. I bet we see it in two weeks, at the outside.
posted by darukaru at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2001

As a matter of fact, I just received a developer mailing from Apple explaining how to use the new ActiveX QuickTime control. Details here.
posted by kindall at 5:09 PM on August 21, 2001

The new ActiveX plugin is not quite there yet, it crashes from time to time.
posted by riffola at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2001

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