Well, we can't say they didn't give us plenty of warning, but I think most people didn't actually believe it would happen. But finally this week, due to a software patent lawsuit by Eolas, Microsoft was forced to start rolling out updates to Internet Explorer that use a technicality to work around the patent.
To the technically minded, the work-around makes no sense at all. Eolas basically patented the idea of embedding interactive content (like a Flash control or a Java applet) in a web page and won't let anyone else use this idea without paying them millions of dollars. The workaround? First, Microsoft made all such embedded controls on current web pages non-interactive until you enable them by clicking on them. The IE change goes to great lengths to filter any events such as key presses, mouse movement, etc. until the control is activated. This means no more shoot-the-target to get a free iPod ads (no great loss there) but also it means that RIA applications that use Flash or Java (like Thinlet) or other similar technologies will be inconvenient to use.
The second part of the work-around is that the user can avoid the extra activation step if the web page has been modified so the control isn't actually embedded in the page but is instead included from somewhere else so that it only looks embedded. Huh?
What about other browsers? All IE based browsers like Maxthon are immediately affected because they embed the IE Html control. Other browsers like Opera, Firefox, Safari, and so forth that have their own rendering images are immune for the moment, but don't be surprised if they are forced by Eolas to do something similar.