What Does ActiveMovie Mean?

ActiveMovie was a multimedia streaming technology developed by Microsoft in the 1990s. The technology enables users to view media streams available over the Internet, an intranet or on CD-ROM, and was inteneded to be a cross-platform media delivery framework.


ActiveMovie was integrated into the DirextX series of media technologies, and was renamed DirectShow in 1997.

Techopedia Explains ActiveMovie

ActiveMovie is integrated with Microsoft’s DirectX family of multimedia application programming interfaces (API). ActiveMovie can be used to develop titles with television-quality MPEG video playback on average PCs. The ActiveMovie technology can also be used for AVI, QuickTime or WAV format files. The ActiveMovie API was developed to offer design capabilities for the integration of new multimedia technologies, third-party enhancements and real-time special effects.

ActiveMovie was first released in March 1996 and was embedded with the beta version of Internet Explorer 3.0. The ActiveMovie control option was added to the start menu so that the application could then be used as a media player to play multimedia files. ActiveMovie was renamed DirectShow for its second release as ActiveMovie became a part of the DirectX set of technologies. The second release of the technology came a year later. DirectShow eventually weas dropped from DirectX but still forms part of several SDKs (Software Development Kits) from Microsoft.

ActiveMovie was not compatible with DVDs, but DirectShow, the advanced version of ActiveMovie, supports DVD.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…