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Microsoft announces patent-related changes to Internet Explorer

There's no patent on irritating little popups - yet
Tue Oct 07 2003, 10:23
SOFTWARE FIRM Microsoft has announced changes to Internet Explorer designed to avoid royalty payments to Intellectual Property company Eolas. After the $521 million judgement against them, the Redmonders were understandably interested in avoiding having to continue to pay per-seat fees. There are an awfully large number of seats involved.

The changes now announced seem aimed at getting around the letter of the patent without causing too much upheaval for Internet Explorer users and developers. Until now, developers were able to embed applets (or 'active content') in their pages using simple HTML tags like <object>, <embed> or <applet>. Now they have to invoke some Javascript incantations, which must come from a different file, but which will do exactly the same thing.

Any developers who don't make these changes will find their applet-containing web pages augmented with irritating little popups with the text "Press OK to continue loading the content of this page". The user presses OK (there's no Cancel button) and the browser continues with whatever it was doing: Enhancing your web experience, providing accessible data in a variety of formats, destroying the contents of your hard disk, etc. (There's an exception for applets that don't access remote data, so presumably the Fly Guy is safe from the scourge of the pointless popup).

We gather this is the sort of "innovation" that software patents are supposed to encourage. Certainly it seems certain that this idea will cause M'Learned fiends to start some "innovative" new lawsuits - we can't imagine that the patent-wielding boffins at Eolas will be happy to see their multi-billion dollar 'invention' bypassed by a few lines of Javascript. µ


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