Blogger: Larry Cannell
While SharePoint 2010 will provide a better experience for users accessing SharePoint sites with non-Internet Explorer (IE) web browsers (i.e., Firefox and Safari), you should be aware that some remnants of ActiveX remain. In short, there will be some features unavailable to Firefox and Safari users, although not as many as in past versions of SharePoint.
Details about present plans for SharePoint 2010’s support for browsers are available on Microsoft’s TechNet website on this page. Browser support is segmented between level 1 and level 2. Here is how level 1 is defined:
“Level 1 Web browsers take advantage of advanced features that are provided by ActiveX controls and provide the most complete user experience. Level 1 browsers offer full functionality on all SharePoint sites, including the SharePoint Central Administration Web site. Level 1 browsers include those in the following table.”
Translation: there is still some ActiveX controls in use within SharePoint.
The page then goes on to list what browsers are considered level 1. As you would expect, IE7 and IE8 are on this list. However, Firefox is also listed as level 1 (huh?). A little further down on the TechNet webpage it says:
“Some ActiveX features, such as list Datasheet view and the control that displays user presence information, do not work in Mozilla Firefox 3.5.”
Some? Are there any ActiveX controls that could possibly be supported by Firefox? Perhaps Microsoft has gone a little overboard on their enthusiasm touting SharePoint 2010’s support for Firefox.
If you want to get to the nuts and bolts about where ActiveX is used you can look at the developers' documentation for SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server. In SharePoint Foundation there are eleven instances of ActiveX controls. Although named using an obtuse notation a few jump out that identify capabilities only available in IE:
- Multiple file uploads
- Datasheet view
- Embedded presence
In addition, the ActiveX controls only work in 32-bit browsers. However, for 64-bit Windows operating systems (Vista, Win7, WinSvr 2008) the 32-bit version of IE is the default (you have to go out of your way to launch the 64-bit version). So, not having 64-bit ActiveX controls shouldn’t be a problem. This probably says more about the current state of the desktop market transitioning from 32-bit to 64-bit, than it does about SharePoint.