Microsoft has confirmed it is working on Internet Explorer code changes in order to bypass patents held by Eolas.

From January, Microsoft will push the new code through updates and bug fixes to change the way Explorer deals with ActiveX. Developers have been warned of how the changes work, although Microsoft has promised that they are "minor".

ActiveX controls allow for animated content, such as movies or music, to be built directly into Web pages.

The reason for the changes is the long-running patent dispute between Microsoft and Eolas. Earlier this year, a judge tossed out a $520 million judgment in favour of Eolas but ruled that Microsoft did infringe on Eolas' patents for embedded content. The case was sent back to a lower court for a new trial.

That trial is expected to begin next year, but the changes to IE will ensure the software doesn't infringe on Eolas' patents, Evans said. Microsoft has also argued that Eolas' patent is invalid, but the US Patent and Trademark Office disagreed after a review.

Developers will quickly incorporate the changes into their Web pages, Evans claimed. The result from the user point of view will be that they may have to click to view embedded content.

New patches for Explorer will be distributed in January, and new copies of Windows 2000 and Windows XP will ship with the changes starting in the early part of the year, Evans said. The changes will also be present in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer version 7.