Why do I have to hit enter to see Flash?

First thing today my IT Director says:

“Why do I have to hit the space bar to use [our web app] now?”
[screenshots below are examples of some random sites - not mine]

Press spacebar or enter to activate and use this control

She was seeing a ‘Click to activate and use this control’ or ‘Press SPACEBAR or ENTER to activate and use this control’ whenever she encountered a flash component. Even after hitting the spacebar she still had to click on the flash object to get it work.

click to activate and use this control
What had I done to our websites, she wondered? At first I assumed she had changed a security setting in her browser. But then I saw the message on my browser. Ack! Little did I know…it’s not a security change, it’s a new compulsory behavior autoupdated by Microsoft as a result of their losing a lawsuit.

I use Firefox and frequent web standards type tech blogs as much as possible, which is probably why I hadn’t heard of the Microsoft v. Eolas (University of California) lawsuit. Due to the patent litigation, an Internet Explorer update was released on April 11th that is autoinstalled via Windows Update which requires users to “activate” embedded objects and plug-ins before they can interact with them.

Of course, users running the Firefox, Safari or Opera web browsers will not be affected by this update. I would recommend taking this opportunity to make the switch to Firefox, it’s better over here. However, if your workplace is like mine and has web applications that rely on proprietary protocals and legacy vbscript, you may be suck with Internet Explorer. For you, Adobe has posted a flash demo showing users how to activate embedded objects on site’s that display this new message.

For developers out there who use any ActiveX controls such as Apple’s QuickTime, RealNetworks’ RealPlayer, or Adobe’s Flash, some work-arounds are emerging. You will have to change the way these objects are embedded.


Update (2006.05.10) Workarounds:

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