Life on-line can be a much richer experience when you aren't restricted to just written words and still pictures. Even if you're new to the Net, you've probably heard aobut multimedia on-line——listening to audio, watching animations and videos, even playing in three-dimensional space. Sound and movement make information come alive.
To experience it, you'll need special pieces of software called plug-ins. The term "plug-in" refers to a small, add-on piece of software which extends the capabilities of your web browser, like Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer, turning your computer into a radio or TV.
When you arrive at a web page which contains a file requiring a plug-in which you don't have, you will usually receive a message asking if you want to get it by downloading it and installing it into your computer. Most of the time, the installation will be automatic.
Occasionally, you'll run into a downloaded file which needs to be decompressed or un-zipped before installation. Once installed, plug-ins run automatically, without you having to do anything.
Many multimedia controls still need to be obtained from the developer but are installed automatically.
Shockwave is a good example of this. All you need to do is go to the Macromedia site and click on the link to install the ActiveX control. The rest happens automatically. The next time you go to a "Shocked" website, the Shockwave control loads and plays the movie.
Most plug-ins and controls can be downloaded for free on the Internet, although not all will work with every system. Some of them, for instance, only work with windows95.
Shockwave 就是这方面一个很好的例子。你所需要做的就是到Macromedia网站上点击链接来安装ActiveX控制程序，剩下的事自动就会完成。下次再到一个需要使Shockwave 的网站时，Shockwave控制程序就会自动装载并播放电影。