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Definition: Active Channel

An earlier information delivery system from Microsoft that provided a platform for "pushing" information to users from Internet content providers and internal intranets. Based on the Channel Definition Format (CDF), channel providers stored XML-based CDF files on their Web servers, which contained the URLs to the pages that made up the channel's offerings. When users selected a channel from their desktop, the underlying CDF file is accessed.

The Active Channel was supported starting in IE 4 (Internet Explorer Version 4.0) and dropped in IE 7 due to the popularity of widely used syndication formats such as RSS. See Active Desktop, push technology and RSS.

The Channel Bar
This was the default Active Channel Bar on a Windows 98 desktop. Clicking an item launched the browser so the user could subscribe. The Channel Guide let you browse through the offerings from third parties available via Microsoft's website.