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Even using Javasript, browser compatibility is a concern. Here [wsabstract.com] is one method that is cross browser compatible.
I don't claim the definitive word on whether a:hover can trigger a sound in MSIE. Anyone know anything more about this?
1. It starts Java when you mouseover the link... hence it takes forever on older machines.
I tried forever to find a way to initiate a remote imagechange using jscript/onmouseover *without* using <a href=> and could never find a way to make it work.
I'd LOVE to find out a way to do mouseover effects without having to hyperlink the trigger though... I'll be watching this one to see what turns up!
Java is pretty common for embedding sound files -- other methods are too browser specific, but now you've pointed to platform issues as well. One of my friends has a nice g4, and he has constant problems playing music from the web, with either browser.
using an embed tag (instead of bgsound) allows music to play automatically upon loading a page for Mac NN/IE... I prefer silence on the web, so I really haven't looked into online sound much.