64-bit application cannot load Adobe Reader ActiveX control when the computer uses Internet Explorer

Note: The Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022 (for a list of what's in scope, see the FAQ). The same IE11 apps and sites you use today can open in Microsoft Edge with Internet Explorer mode. Learn more here.

Symptoms

Consider the following scenario:

  • You develop a 64-bit application that hosts a WebBrowser control.

  • Internet Explorer 11 or Internet Explorer 10 and Adobe Reader are installed on the computer.

  • You try to open a PDF document by using the WebBrowser control in the application.

In this scenario, Adobe Reader does not start. Instead, the webpage in the application cannot load the Adobe Reader ActiveX control, and the webpage displays only a white page with a black "X" symbol.

Cause

This issue occurs because the Acrobat Reader ActiveX control that is used to handle PDF documents is only available as a 32-bit version. Because 32-bit add-ons cannot be loaded in 64-bit processes, the webpage displays the blank page together with an indication that an ActiveX control could not be loaded.

When the WebBrowser control detects a 32-bit ActiveX control, it tries to load the control by using Internet Explorer in Enhanced Protected Mode.

Resolution

Update information

To resolve this issue, install the most recent cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. To do this, go to Microsoft Update.

For technical information about the most recent cumulative security update for Internet Explorer, go to the following Microsoft website:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/current.aspxNote This update was first included in security update 2969262.

2969262 MS14-035: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer: June 10, 2014

Status

Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section.

References

See the terminology that Microsoft uses to describe software updates.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.

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