ActiveMovie was the immediate ancestor of Windows Media Player 6.x, and was a streaming media technology now known as DirectShow, developed by Microsoft to replace Video for Windows. ActiveMovie allows users to view media streams, whether distributed via the Internet, an intranet or CD-ROMs.

Originally announced in March 1996,[1] the first version was released in May 1996 bundled with the beta version of Internet Explorer 3.0.[2]

When ActiveMovie was installed an option was added to the Start Menu to launch the ActiveMovie Control. This allowed users to play multimedia files and thus was a rudimentary media player.

In March 1997, Microsoft announced that ActiveMovie was going to become part of the DirectX set of technologies,[3] and by July it was being referred to as DirectShow.[4]

Version 5.2 of Windows Media Player would remove the ActiveMovie Control icon from the Start Menu upon installation. Microsoft provided instructions for reinstalling the icon on its website. [5]

Microsoft ActiveMovie Control v1.00
ActiveMovie Control running on Windows 2000

See also


  1. ^ "Microsoft Announces ActiveMovie". News Center. Microsoft. 1996-03-05. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  2. ^ "Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 Beta Now Available". News Center. Microsoft. 1996-05-29. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  3. ^ "Microsoft Evolves DirectX Multimedia API Services". News Center. Microsoft. 1997-03-31. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  4. ^ "Microsoft and Progressive Networks Collaborate on Streaming Media". News Center. Microsoft. 1997-07-21. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  5. ^ "How to Add Start Menu Shortcut for ActiveMovie and Media Player". Support. Microsoft. 2007-01-23. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-28.

ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly from the World Wide Web. Microsoft introduced ActiveX in 1996. In principle, ActiveX is not dependent on Microsoft Windows operating systems, but in practice, most ActiveX controls only run on Windows. Most also require the client to be running on an x86-based computer because ActiveX controls contain compiled code.ActiveX is still supported as of Windows 10 through Internet Explorer 11, while ActiveX is not supported in their default web browser Microsoft Edge (which has a different, incompatible extension system) and will be compatible with the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge using IE Mode.


DirectShow (sometimes abbreviated as DS or DShow), codename Quartz, is a multimedia framework and API produced by Microsoft for software developers to perform various operations with media files or streams. It is the replacement for Microsoft's earlier Video for Windows technology. Based on the Microsoft Windows Component Object Model (COM) framework, DirectShow provides a common interface for media across various programming languages, and is an extensible, filter-based framework that can render or record media files on demand at the request of the user or developer. The DirectShow development tools and documentation were originally distributed as part of the DirectX SDK. Currently, they are distributed as part of the Windows SDK (formerly known as the Platform SDK).Microsoft plans to completely replace DirectShow gradually with Media Foundation in future Windows versions. One reason cited by Microsoft is to provide "much more robust support for content protection systems" (see digital rights management). Microsoft's MSFT Becky Weiss also confirms that "you'll notice that working with the Media Foundation requires you to work at a slightly lower level than working with DirectShow would have. And there are still DirectShow features that aren't (yet) in Media Foundation". As described in the Media Foundation article, Windows Vista and Windows 7 applications use Media Foundation instead of DirectShow for several media related tasks.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) was a series of graphical web browsers (or as of 2019, a "compatibility solution") developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.Internet Explorer was once the most widely used web browser, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share by 2003. This came after Microsoft used bundling to win the first browser war against Netscape, which was the dominant browser in the 1990s. Its usage share has since declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008), and with the growing popularity of operating systems such as Android and iOS that do not run Internet Explorer. Estimates for Internet Explorer's market share are about 2.58% across all platforms or by StatCounter's numbers ranked 6th, while on desktop, the only platform it's ever had significant share (e.g., excluding mobile and Xbox) it's ranked 4th at 5.13%, after macOS's Safari; even only managing 3rd rank after Firefox when including IE's successor Edge share (others place IE 3rd with 8.44% after Firefox); as of May 2019 (browser market share is notoriously difficult to calculate). Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s, with over 1,000 people involved in the project by 1999.Versions of Internet Explorer for other operating systems have also been produced, including an Xbox 360 version called Internet Explorer for Xbox and for platforms Microsoft no longer supports: Internet Explorer for Mac and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris and HP-UX), and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile made for Windows Phone, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile.

On March 17, 2015, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Edge would replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on its Windows 10 devices (while support for older Windows has since been announced, as of 2019 Edge still has lower share than IE's, that's in decline). This effectively makes Internet Explorer 11 the last release (however IE 8, 9, and 10 also receive security updates as of 2019). Internet Explorer, however, remains on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 primarily for enterprise purposes. Since January 12, 2016, only Internet Explorer 11 has been supported. Support varies based on the operating system's technical capabilities and its support lifecycle.The browser has been scrutinized throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of fair browser competition.

Internet Explorer 2

Microsoft Internet Explorer 2 (IE2) is the second major version of Internet Explorer (IE), a graphical web browser by Microsoft. It was released on November 22, 1995, for Windows 95 and Windows NT, and on April 23, 1996, for Apple Macintosh and Windows 3.1.Version 2 launched with 12 languages, including English, but this would expand to 24 for Windows 95, 20 for Windows 3.1, and 9 for the Macintosh by April 1996. It lacked many features that became common in later IE versions, including the Blue 'e' logo, integration with Windows Explorer, and bundled programs. Its market share was also much lower than later versions. During its tenure, IE market share only went up to about roughly 3-9% by mid 1996, before Internet Explorer 3 was released.Internet Explorer 2 is no longer supported, and is not available for download from Microsoft.

Internet Explorer 3

Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) is a graphical web browser released on August 13, 1996 by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and on January 8, 1997 for Apple Mac OS (see IE for Mac). It began serious competition against Netscape Navigator in the first Browser war. It was Microsoft's first browser release with a major internal development component. It was the first more widely used version of Internet Explorer, although it did not surpass Netscape or become the browser with the most market share. During its tenure, IE market share went from roughly 3–9% in early 1996 to 20–30% by the end of 1997. In September 1997 it was superseded by Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.

IE3 was the first commercial browser with Cascading Style Sheets support. It introduced support for ActiveX controls, Java applets, inline multimedia, and the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) system for content metadata. This version was the first version of Internet Explorer to use the blue 'e' logo, which later became a symbol of the browser. Version 3 came bundled with Internet Mail and News, NetMeeting, and an early version of the Windows Address Book, and was itself included with Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2. There were 16-bit and 32-bit versions depending on the OS.

This is the first version of Internet Explorer developed without Spyglass source code, but still used Spyglass technology, so the Spyglass licensing information remained in the program's documentation. In 1996 Microsoft said of its new browser "Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 adds many new features which are great for HTML authors and demonstrates our accelerating commitment to W3C HTML standards."Internet Explorer 3 is no longer supported, and is not available for download from Microsoft.

Internet Explorer version history

Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995.

The first version of Internet Explorer, (at that time named Microsoft Internet Explorer, later referred to as Internet Explorer 1) made its debut on August 17, 1995. It was a reworked version of Spyglass Mosaic, which Microsoft licensed from Spyglass Inc., like many other companies initiating browser development. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the OEM service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows.

Originally Microsoft Internet Explorer only ran on Windows using Intel 80386 (IA-32) processor. Current versions also run on x64, 32-bit ARMv7, PowerPC and IA-64. Versions on Windows have supported MIPS, Alpha AXP and 16-bit and 32-bit x86 but currently support only 32-bit or 64-bit. A version exists for Xbox 360 called Internet Explorer for Xbox using PowerPC and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile, which is currently based on Internet Explorer 9 and made for Windows Phone using ARMv7, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile. It remains in development alongside the desktop versions.

Internet Explorer has supported other operating systems with Internet Explorer for Mac (using Motorola 68020+, PowerPC) and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris using SPARC and HP-UX using PA-RISC), which have been discontinued.

Since its first release, Microsoft has added features and technologies such as basic table display (in version 1.5); XMLHttpRequest (in version 5), which adds creation of dynamic web pages; and Internationalized Domain Names (in version 7), which allow Web sites to have native-language addresses with non-Latin characters. The browser has also received scrutiny throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and both the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of other browsers.

The latest stable release has an interface allowing for use as both a desktop application, and as a Windows 8 application.

List of Microsoft Windows components

The following is a list of Microsoft Windows components.

Streaming media

Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.

A client end-user can use their media player to start playing digital video or digital audio content before the entire file has been transmitted. Distinguishing delivery method from the media distributed applies specifically to telecommunications networks, as most of the delivery systems are either inherently streaming (e.g. radio, television, streaming apps) or inherently non-streaming (e.g. books, video cassettes, audio CDs). For example, in the 1930s, elevator music was among the earliest popular music available as streaming media; nowadays Internet television is a common form of streamed media. The term "streaming media" can apply to media other than video and audio, such as live closed captioning, ticker tape, and real-time text, which are all considered "streaming text".

Live streaming is the delivery of Internet content in real-time much as live television broadcasts content over the airwaves via a television signal. Live internet streaming requires a form of source media (e.g. a video camera, an audio interface, screen capture software), an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content delivery network to distribute and deliver the content. Live streaming does not need to be recorded at the origination point, although it frequently is.

There are challenges with streaming content on the Internet. If the user does not have enough bandwidth in their Internet connection, they may experience stops, lags, or slow buffering of the content. Some users may not be able to stream certain content due to not having compatible computer or software systems.

Some popular streaming services include the video sharing website YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer, which live stream the playing of video games. Netflix and Amazon Video stream movies and TV shows, and Spotify, Apple Music stream music.

Technical features new to Windows Vista

Windows Vista (formerly codenamed Windows "Longhorn") has many significant new features compared with previous Microsoft Windows versions, covering most aspects of the operating system.

In addition to the new user interface, security capabilities, and developer technologies, several major components of the core operating system were redesigned, most notably the audio, print, display, and networking subsystems; while the results of this work will be visible to software developers, end-users will only see what appear to be evolutionary changes in the user interface.

As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been incorporated into the operating system, and a number of performance improvements have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling. Prior versions of Windows typically needed third-party wireless networking software to work properly; this is no longer the case with Windows Vista, as it includes comprehensive wireless networking support.

For graphics, Windows Vista introduces a new as well as major revisions to Direct3D. The new display driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager, which provides the tearing-free desktop and special effects that are the cornerstones of the Windows Aero graphical user interface. The new display driver model is also able to offload rudimentary tasks to the GPU, allow users to install drivers without requiring a system reboot, and seamlessly recover from rare driver errors due to illegal application behavior.

At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the memory manager, process scheduler, heap manager, and I/O scheduler. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that can be used by data persistence services to enable atomic transactions. The service is being used to give applications the ability to work with the file system and registry using atomic transaction operations.

Video for Windows

Video for Windows (VfW) is a multimedia framework developed by Microsoft that allows Windows to play and encode digital video.

Web Slice

Web Slice is a web feed technology introduced in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 that allows certain portions of a web page to be subscribed to. Internet Explorer allows users to preview the subscribed Web Slices in a fly-out preview window. Web Slices are based on the hAtom Microformat.Microsoft developed the Web Slice format, and published a specification under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise. The specification is not published by any independent standards body. As of 2012, Internet Explorer 8 and 9 are the only browsers to support Web Slices natively, although Mozilla Firefox has support via an add-on called webchunks.

Windows Desktop Update

Microsoft's Windows Desktop Update was an optional feature included with Internet Explorer 4 (IE, released in September 1997), which introduced several updated shell features to the Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 operating systems. These features became part of the standard installation in their successors, which were Windows 98 and Windows 2000, respectively.

The Windows Desktop Update included features such as Active Desktop and tight IE4 integration with the Windows Explorer. It was downloadable as part of IE4 for all versions of Windows 95 except Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2.5 (4.00.950C) which included a standalone version of IE 4.0 plus the Windows Desktop Update (but not slipstreamed) where it was automatically installed after the standard Windows 95 set-up. Similarly, the shell update was also made available as part of IE 4.0 for Windows NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3 or later).

While the Windows Desktop Update was officially only an optional user component under Internet Explorer 4.0 releases, and was not formally included in any later version of Internet Explorer (IE5 onwards), users can extract the Windows Desktop Update installer from the IE4 setup files using standard .CAB extraction tools or use IEAK to generate a version of the IE 5.0x, 5.5 or 6.0 setup which included the update. Also command line parameters or edits to a temporary configuration file can be used to instruct installer of those versions of IE to install Desktop Update.

If the Windows Desktop Update was already installed, IE 5.0 or 5.5 setup installed some new shell features, such as sorting by name in a context menu and drop down/overflow menu buttons whenever menus or toolbar buttons did not fit in the Explorer window on the screen.

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player (WMP) is a media player and media library application developed by Microsoft that is used for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, as well as on Pocket PC and Windows Mobile-based devices. Editions of Windows Media Player were also released for classic Mac OS, Mac OS X and Solaris but development of these has since been discontinued.

In addition to being a media player, Windows Media Player includes the ability to rip music from and copy music to compact discs, burn recordable discs in Audio CD format or as data discs with playlists such as an MP3 CD, synchronize content with a digital audio player (MP3 player) or other mobile devices, and enable users to purchase or rent music from a number of online music stores.

Windows Media Player replaced an earlier application called Media Player, adding features beyond simple video or audio playback.

Windows Media Player 11 is available for Windows XP and included in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The default file formats are Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA), and Advanced Systems Format (ASF), and its own XML based playlist format called Windows Playlist (WPL). The player is also able to utilize a digital rights management service in the form of Windows Media DRM.

Windows Media Player 12 is the most recent version of Windows Media Player. It was released on October 22, 2009 along with Windows 7 and has not been made available for previous versions of Windows or has it been updated since for Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. These later versions of Windows instead use Groove Music (for audio) and Microsoft Movies & TV (for video) as the default playback applications for most media; Windows Media Player is still included as a Windows component. Windows RT does not run Windows Media Player.

Windows Vista networking technologies

In computing, Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 introduced in 2007/2008 a new networking stack named Next Generation TCP/IP stack,

to improve on the previous stack in several ways.

The stack includes native implementation of IPv6, as well as a complete overhaul of IPv4. The new TCP/IP stack uses a new method to store configuration settings that enables more dynamic control and does not require a computer restart after a change in settings. The new stack, implemented as a dual-stack model, depends on a strong host-model and features an infrastructure to enable more modular components that one can dynamically insert and remove.

Software & engines
File systems
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