Active Desktop was a Microsoft operating system feature introduced in July 1997, coinciding with the release of Internet Explorer version 4.0. It allowed a user to integrate HTML (hypertext markup language) features in their desktop, either as the desktop wallpaper, or as individual elements similar to widgets. Active Desktop could display the latest news or stock quotes, and was an example of push technology, a short-lived trend of the late 1990s. It also made it possible for animated GIFs to be used as the desktop background.
Active Desktop was first available for Windows 95, then for Windows 98 and the 32-bit version of Windows XP. It was phased out after Internet Explorer version 6.0, coinciding with the introduction of the Windows Sidebar feature in Windows Vista.