Well, that was the marketing. In reality, ActiveX was just COM rebranded. By this time, Microsoft had expanded the original COM with DCOM (Distributed COM), which completed the original design for COM by allowing components to interoperate across machine boundaries and over a network. This was particularly important for distributed networks like the Internet. In any event, ActiveX, being COM, allowed developers to write code in the tool of their choice using the language of their choice and then access functionality in components that existed on that same machine or on some other host on the Internet.