I was asked recently about the drag and drop functionality used in SharePoint 2013 document libraries. This functionality allows the user to drag files from their local machine into a SharePoint library. It's a really cool new feature, and I've never had a scenario where it didn't work (at least that I noticed). But, I always have the latest browser and Office versions available to me - not everyone is in that same situation.
The people asking the question were testing this functionality and found that with Internet Explorer 8 and 9 on Windows 7 there was a reliance on an active-x control from Office 2013 for the drag and drop functionality to operate. A quick web search finds that other have commented on this as well. So, I decided to dig into this a bit and understand where the limits are, and what can be done to give this feature to users on older versions of Office (or even no version of Office).
It turns out that indeed, Office 2013 installs an active-x control called Interceptor.dll that is used for drag and drop functionality in the event that the user's browser does not support the HTML5 features needed for this capability. Internet Explorer 10, Google Chrome (latest versions), FireFox (latest versions), and Safari (latest versions) don't require (or support) the active-x control, and execute the drag and drop properly using HTML5.
I set up a clean Windows 7 VM with Internet Explorer 8 and without an Office installation, then proceeded to verify that the drag and drop feature was unavailable with IE8 and IE9. I installed IE10 Release Preview, and everything worked fine. Next, I backed out the IE10 install, verified again that the feature is not available.
What can be done to get a user without Office, or with an older version of Office this feature? What I found was that installing a free Office 2013 product - in this case SharePoint Designer 2013 - installed the underlying active-x control needed. Great! But in businesses, it's unlikely that they will want to deploy that tool to all users - so, a compromise is needed.
If all options from the SharePoint Designer 2013 installation are unselected, except for the Office Tools -> Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Support option - the drag and drop functionality will work and the user will not have the SharePoint Designer tool installed on their machine. This option installs only the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Support and Access Web Datasheet Component features. Seems like a reasonable compromise, since this installation should be able to be automated through some form of scripting, software distribution, or desktop management - and doesn't interfere with an existing Office installation of an earlier version.