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Plugin and ActiveX support in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

This article describes how pages function differently in Windows 8 between the familiar Internet Explorer for the desktop and Internet Explorer in the new Windows UI.

Windows 8 provides two browsing experiences with Internet Explorer 10, the familiar desktop browsing experience and the new Windows 8 browsing experience. Both experiences use the same underlying components from the network stack and cache, to the rendering engine. Both send the same User Agent string and have the same Document Object Model (DOM). As a developer, treat both experiences as one browser, Internet Explorer 10. The only difference between how sites behave in the two browsing experiences is plug-in support

The new Windows UI browsing experience doesn't support Microsoft ActiveX or any other binary extensibility. To ensure your site works for all customers, provide content that doesn't rely on plug-ins. This helps all customers who browse without plug-ins, whether they use Windows 8 browsing experience, disable plug-ins with ActiveX Filtering or a browser add-on, or browse with a device that doesn't support plug-ins, such as a phone or tablet.


<video id="video1" width="640" height="360" controls>
    <source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
    <source src="video.webm" type="video/webm">

    <object width="640" height="360" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0">
        <param name="SRC" value="http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/IEBlog/Common/player.swf?file=video.mp4">

        <p>Please update your browser or install Flash</p>

    </object>
</video>


For more info about cross-browser support for HTML5 audio and video, including codecs and captioning, see Practical Cross-Browser HTML5 Audio and Video. Many sites already perform the equivalent of this fallback when serving ads in the absence of plug-ins, showing that this approach is a practical and scalable solution.

If your site delivers a premium experience with a plug-in, use the following fallback:


<object width="640" height="360" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0">
    <param name="SRC" value="http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/IEBlog/Common/player.swf?file=video.mp4">

    <video id="video1" width="640" height="360" controls>
        <source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
        <source src="video.webm" type="video/webm">

        <p>Please update your browser or install Flash</p>

    </video>
</object>


This pattern guarantees that anyone with the plug-in will use it and those without it will use HTML5 video, or the update message. If the customer is using a browser without the plug-in or the native support, they can attempt to install the plug-in.

Making site updates that don’t use plug-ins might take time. You can temporarily suggest that your users view your site with Internet Explorer 10 on the desktop. Update your site with either a "META" tag or "HTTP" header and Windows Internet Explorer will notify the user and provide an option to switch to the desktop.


HTTP Header
X-UA-Compatible: requiresActiveX=true
META TAG
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="requiresActiveX=true"/>


Note  

Keep in mind that the user might be using a device, such as a phone, that doesn't run existing ActiveX controls even in Internet Explorer for the desktop. Some of these devices might also have a small screen and only touch input, which doesn't always work well with ActiveX controls or with the desktop browsing experience. Forcing users into the desktop experience should only be a last resort when no comparable fallback content exists.

If you want to emulate the plug-in free experience in the desktop to debug site issues with F12 developer tools, first enable ActiveX Filtering. You can enable ActiveX Filtering from Internet Explorer by clicking Tools, then Safety, and then ActiveX Filtering. This will turn off all ActiveX controls and add-ons, and let you enable them selectively as the page needs them.

Related topics

ActiveX Filtering
Get ready for plug-in free browsing
Practical Cross-Browser HTML5 Audio and Video

 

 

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