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Activating the Internet with ActiveX Technologies

The World Wide Web is no longer just an experience of browsing through static pages. ActiveX™ technology activates the Web by populating pages with interactive objects, all based on a common standard and therefore able to work together. Web pages can now come to life with rich, multimedia effects, including animation, audio, video and virtual reality. Web content can now be dynamic, providing up-to-the minute information customized to the profile and preferences of each individual user, and thereby creating a one-to-one relationship between producer and consumer. Web sites can now include user control and choice, which means they can behave like traditional software applications and delivered on demand--from anywhere, to anyone. As a result of these exciting changes, the Web will have a more direct impact on people's lives and work, and will likely transform the way people use the Internet.

Web Pages Come Alive with Multimedia Effects

Unlike the static text and graphics typical of today's web pages, ActiveX technologies enable Web producers to include multimedia effects in their sites, so that objects can play sounds, show video clips and animation sequences, or demonstrate ideas in 3-D virtual reality simulations. In addition to making the Web experience more fun, these multimedia capabilities can greatly enhance the educational and entertainment value of a site by communicating information more effectively and with greater impact.

Dynamic Content Creates One-to-One Relationships

Organizations that publish Web sites can use ActiveX technologies to create a customized experience for each visitor to their site. By capturing preferences from each Web visitor, companies can create individual profiles and tailor their content so that each user receives only the information of interest to him or her. In this sense, a Web site becomes a unique Web experience for each user, and the company sponsoring the site gains an understanding of each customer's needs. For example, an e-zine (electronic magazine) can collect information on readers' geographical, political, or entertainment preferences (or a multitude of other interests) and create a custom publication for each subscriber. As the profile is refined over time, the publisher is able to establish a unique and highly relevant relationship with each customer and create a strong sense of customer loyalty. This direct producer-to-consumer relationship eliminates the need for "mass" marketing and communications, resulting in lower costs for the producer and greater satisfaction for the consumer.

User Choice Results in More Productive Applications

With ActiveX technologies, users can interact with a Web site and make choices that control what information they see. Unlike the simple hypertext linking of today's Web sites, ActiveX technologies enable the creation of highly interactive applications. Instead of a brochure that lists a company's products, for example, a Web site can be an online catalog that allows order placement and fulfillment tracking, or a financial services site can be transformed from simple advertising and prospectus publishing into financial modeling and portfolio management advice. Figure 1 gives examples of how static Web documents can be turned into productive applications with the addition of ActiveX technologies.

Static Web DocumentsActive Web ApplicationsHR handbookHR benefits managementReal estate advertisingAppointment scheduling, mortgage applicationsEvents calendarOnline ticketingHard goods catalogOrder capture and fulfilmentAdvertising-sponsored contentFee-based content (micropayments)Flight schedulesReservations and ticketingMutual fund advertising and prospectusPortfolio management

Sound Familiar?

These exciting enhancements to the Internet may sound familiar, since they are capabilities that have existed for some time in desktop and network applications. The benefits of multimedia effects, dynamic content, and user-controlled choices have long been appreciated by PC users. Developers of PC and network applications understand, as a result of much trial-and-error, what it takes to build effective and productive interactive applications. The good news is that they can transfer that knowledge and expertise directly to the Internet, using the same programming languages and tools--even the same code--that they already know. Or, they can learn new languages like Java and combine them with existing tools to build Web sites with mixed contents. The important thing is that ActiveX makes it all work together.

A Powerful Combination

ActiveX brings the power and productivity of interactive programming together with the ubiquity and standardization of the Internet. This powerful combination will allow Web producers to use the most innovative work from the software development community and make it available to the widest possible audience. For users, this means Web experiences that are as engaging as the best CD-ROM titles. For Web designers, it means the immediate availability of thousands of useful building blocks that can be incorporated into their Web pages in creative ways. For Web producers, it means Web sites with higher impact and broader appeal that users will return to again and again. For companies, it means Web sites that create a heightened level of intimacy with customers and visitors who can experience a more personalized message. For developers, it means their software objects can be put to new and creative use by Web designers for a whole new world of users. ActiveX is energizing the Internet industry to grow the World Wide Web into an exciting, personalized experience for each user.

*Microsoft, MS, ActiveX, VB, Visual Basic, Visual C++, Windows, the Microsoft Internet Explorer Logo, and the Microsoft Windows logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.


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