Active Worlds (AW) is a 3D virtual reality platform. The Active Worlds Browser runs on Windows, and on the majority of computers today. Users assign themselves a unique name, log into the Active Worlds virtual universe, and explore 3D worlds and environments that other users have built. Users can chat with one another or build structures and areas from a selection of objects. AW allows users to own worlds, and universe and develop 3D content. The browser has web browsing capabilities, voice chat, and basic instant messaging. This integrated software can allow users to connect, explore, and gain a more in depth understanding of 3D. Corporate and educational clients of Active Worlds can make use of the interaction, communication, and media to provide functional environments suited for their objective.
The program's original goal was to be the 3D-equivalent to a 2D browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla). Instead of creating a website, the user could construct an office, building, or area in which to display products or information. Currently in version 4.1 released May 30th, 2006, there are many new features which allow users to interact with the environment more so than previous versions.
The necessity for 3D art within Active Worlds to enrich one's world has led to the development of a market place for 3D models, textures, avatars (and associated animation sequences), and more. There is also plenty of free exchange of 3D content. There is also custom design services for 3D art available, especially avatars.