​South Korea to remove 90 percent of ActiveX by 2017

After relying on ActiveX for almost two decades, the South Korean government has announced that it will be removing the framework, starting with the top 100 popular websites.

South Korea plans to remove as much as 90 percent of ActiveX from the country's 100 most popular websites operated by private companies by 2017.

ActiveX, a software framework released by Microsoft in 1996 to control functionality and feature-set building within Windows apps, lives on Internet Explorer and is incompatible with most other platforms. For over a decade, Microsoft has released patches, as well kill bits, to clean up the security messes that ActiveX has caused for Windows users.

South Korea has long acknowledged the need to remove the obsolete technology, but active moves towards doing so have been hampered by finding alternative technology to replace it, as well as by the costs involved.

The South Korean government passed a law in the late '90s facilitating e-commerce security that required the use of an ActiveX control, and therefore Internet Explorer, to shop on Korean sites. The architecture of the system has not changed since it was created.

Its continued mandated use for online shopping in South Korea has been in spite of Microsoft discouraging, for some time, the use of ActiveX controls, and only supporting ActiveX as a legacy technology on Internet Explorer.

The exodus from ActiveX was largely instigated by online retailers that have received complaints for years from consumers who wanted to purchase goods without the need of the Microsoft-made technology hampering this.

The South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, which announced the plan to remove ActiveX from e-commerce websites, said it also wants to extend this to the finance, education, and entertainment sectors, and will work towards doing so.

Out of the top 100 websites, the ministry will first help small and mid-sized firms adopt web standards using solutions that can replace ActiveX. It will support as much as 50 percent of the cost, with a 100 million won ($91,000) cap.

The government will also provide financial support for the development of 48 alternative technologies with the same cap.

This year, the government will provide 1.2 billion won ($1 million) to support already developed solutions in security, payment, and authentication -- which accounts for 66 percent of ActiveX users -- to be adopted. Multimedia, documents, and other areas will be provided with support starting next year.

Migration to HTML5 will also be supported. HTML5 has increasingly become the standard platform for web developers, potentially trumping iOS.

A ministry spokesperson said that it hopes the changes will allow for easier access via different browsers.

A similar plan aimed at websites owned by the public sector is slated to be announced as well.