See the question and my original answer on StackOverflow

Yes, COM was created, among other reasons, to overcome source code (and .obj, static lib, etc.) reuse issues, whether that source is C/C++ or anything else.

The essence of COM (v-table layout + IUnknown, forget about registration, OLE, Automation, marshaling, and other additional stuff) is very simple (in fact, it's hard to make it more simple). Since it only relies on binary contracts, you can write COM client and/or server code using any language (and any platform, but in reality, only Windows uses it). So you can have a 32-bit COM client written in python talk to a 64-bit COM server written in C++ for example (well, this example in fact requires some cross process marshaling, so it's not pure lightweight COM).

COM is very far from being dead or disappearing (because it's, again, quite simple). "ActiveX" was a marketing / tech mix name, but it's basically COM, and is massively used in Windows, by Windows and 3rd parties.

COM over the physical network (DCOM) is indeed disappearing (in favor of other technologies, like Web, sockets, HTTP, REST, or in general technologies more simple than COM), and what's still used today is basically in-process and out-process COM (out-process is somehow DCOM on the same machine).

I know that CORBA was once upon a time a strong COM competitor (especially because it was available on multiple platforms, including Windows), but it seems to be seriously declining, also in favor of the same more simple technologies (web, etc.).