April 25, 2006

IE 7b vs Plug-in Detection

Ever since the first IE7 beta came out, I've been mystified by a security dialog that came up on my site, prompting me to approve or deny the running of the Windows Media 6.4 Shim control [screengrab, 32K PNG].

Today I finally figured out the trigger, and it affects all sites using AWStats' optional awstats_misc_tracker.js (for adding screen res, color-depth and plug-in reporting to AWStat's excellent open source stats package) and scripts that detect the Windows Media control like Webmonkey Nadav Savio's Plug-in Bot. It does this because both scripts rely on testing the presence of Windows Media by attempting to instantiate the WM ActiveX control, thus activating the new security model in IE7. You'll get this issue even if you have the latest version of Media Player.

I've reported the problem to AWStats, but an immediate fix would be to disable WMP reporting by commenting out the following line from awstats_misc_tracker.js:

var TRKwma = awstats_detectIE("MediaPlayer.MediaPlayer.1")

As for Windows Media plug-in detection/degradation strategies, we could always assume the presence of WMP on Win IE and special-case straight delivery to that platform. Not such a loss as the majority of today's Win users will already have a version of WMP, but it would negate the opportunity to provide graceful degradation for those in the minority.

However, it may be that this is simply a remaining bug in IE7b, as the new security model reportedly contains a list of "allowed" ActiveX controls that do not trigger the security alert bar such as Flash Player; presumably Microsoft would want its own Media Player to be treated equally. You can track this report, vote for its resolution and leave comments on Microsoft Connect (free registration and MS Passport required).

In any event, and unless you get complaints, this shouldn't be much of an issue till the official IE7 release towards the end of the year.

Posted by Lewis Francis at April 25, 2006 9:42 PM
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IE 7b vs Plug-in Detection II
Excerpt: The last Information Gift described a problem with widely used Windows Media plug-in detection scripts which annoyingly trigger IE7's new ActiveX install alert bar. I recently received word that, at the request of the Windows Media Player team, the WMP...
Weblog: Information Gift
Tracked: May 28, 2006 12:56 AM

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