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Microsoft Owns Patent to Restricting Your Software

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 58 comments

Microsoft wants you to pay to play.

Yesterday Microsoft was awarded with a patent to “restrict software and hardware usage on a computer.”

The patent documentation describes a scenario where Microsoft hopes its method will apply: “One problem inherent in open architecture systems is they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser. Consequentially, the purchase price of these systems being indifferent to usage scenarios means users with limited needs pay the same rate for these systems as those with universal needs.”

Could this be referring to Microsoft’s Anytime Upgrade scheme, where the user can upgrade from a lesser version of Windows to an upper tier (such as moving from Windows 7 Starter Edition to Home Premium)? It seems so, as the document goes on to describe: “According to another aspect of the invention, a consumer initially purchases a computer with restricted functionality at a price that is less than the price that would be charged for a computer with full functionality. Subsequently, the user can, at an additional cost, acquire a digital key that allows the restrictions to be removed, upgrading the computer to full functionality.”

That’s just the simple and straightforward part of the patent though, as the more complicated bits come when it begins talking about controlling the types of applications or even hardware that users can run.

“In exchange for payment, a software or hardware vendor will acquire a digital signature(s) for the appropriate program files from the supplier of the program files … so that the next time he or she attempts to execute the application or driver the appropriate signatures will be in the digest catalog and the program files will be loaded.”

Could other software and hardware start employing “anytime upgrade” technologies into their products? The idea of only paying (licensing) for what you’d use sounds economical, but we’re pretty sure enthusiasts won’t like being restricted in any way.

It seems like so many corporations are trying out "tiered" methods now. It's now all about delivering less, and then charging more for "normal."--Ed.

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  • 0 Hide
    dman3k , May 20, 2009 6:03 PM
    Ed, prices tend to inflate. Yes, even computer software.
  • 16 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , May 20, 2009 6:07 PM
    I'm sure a crack is being worked on as we speak.
  • 0 Hide
    blackthorne , May 20, 2009 6:08 PM
    maybe MS is just worried someone is going to sue them after purchasing the watered down version (without knowing it) and then having to fork over cash to upgrade...not really sure if a "patent" would have anything to do with that though...
  • 6 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 20, 2009 6:10 PM
    Doesn't Microsoft own half the patent dept. It seems every other day we hear about some new patent.
  • 3 Hide
    megamanx00 , May 20, 2009 6:12 PM
    We'll see if the OS to be will be worth it. Hey, if I could buy a cheap version of the OS that didn't have windows mail, IE, movie maker, or any of the other extras I didn't use I'd go for it. The most useful tool to me is Notepad ^_^. The Areo interface is nice, so I guess I would pay a few bucks for that, but then I'd also like to pay less for not having ready boost since I never use that :D .
  • 4 Hide
    cryogenic , May 20, 2009 6:18 PM
    IronRyan21Doesn't Microsoft own half the patent dept. It seems every other day we hear about some new patent.


    IBM could give Microsoft a run for its' money regarding the number of patents owned.

    Quote from http://www.ibm.com/ibm/licensing/patents/
    Quote:
    IBM's worldwide patent portfolio exceeds 40,000


    Quote from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/feb09/02-10PatentMilestone.mspx
    Quote:
    Microsoft has been awarded its 10,000th U.S. patent
  • -6 Hide
    guess who , May 20, 2009 6:25 PM
    Just shifts the balance towards open source, where you do not have to put up with all the MS BS where they try to control your life.

    Talking about control, Toms HW does not play nice with my NoScript. Drop down menus do not work, sign in link does not work etc. UNLESS I allow the entire page, which kind of makes NoScrip pointless. Anandtech does not have any trouble with my NoScript settings. I rarely read the articles any more because of the BS I have to put up with on this site. Guess Toms HW will be the loser in this battle, because I am tired of the control this site is trying to exersize over my browser settings.
    Bye
  • 1 Hide
    DeadlyPredator , May 20, 2009 6:27 PM
    Lol, nice patent... so I could buy a computer with a 4 ghz max CPU but because I decided to pay less by choosing the basic version it will only be clocked to 1.8 ghz until I buy a key which I enter in my BIOS and that will unlock it to its full potential?

    Sounds like M$ wants more money from your pockets
  • 5 Hide
    jsloan , May 20, 2009 6:28 PM
    i dont see how they could get a patent on this, software developers have been doing this for decades... look at all the software you can download, use limited copies, pay for an upgrade which gets you a new key which unlocks higher end features in the software. the patent office is like aig, insuring junk and making it appear like something. it just all ends up in the courts...
  • 2 Hide
    Tedders , May 20, 2009 6:37 PM
    guess whoJust shifts the balance towards open source, where you do not have to put up with all the MS BS where they try to control your life.Talking about control, Toms HW does not play nice with my NoScript. Drop down menus do not work, sign in link does not work etc. UNLESS I allow the entire page, which kind of makes NoScrip pointless. Anandtech does not have any trouble with my NoScript settings. I rarely read the articles any more because of the BS I have to put up with on this site. Guess Toms HW will be the loser in this battle, because I am tired of the control this site is trying to exersize over my browser settings.Bye

    See ya
  • 2 Hide
    daggs , May 20, 2009 6:49 PM
    mmm. strange, moving from one type of os to another, where did I saw that? ho, ubuntu, opensuse and etc. now microsoft wants to patent something that they didn't invented? what will happen next if it will be approved? they will sue ubuntu, opensuse and etc for patent stealing?
  • 2 Hide
    MoUsE-WiZ , May 20, 2009 6:55 PM
    guess who, you only need to allow toms+bestofmedia. Yeah, it's still annoying, but you do get to get rid of most of the useless possibly infected 3rd party scripts.
  • 2 Hide
    jsloan , May 20, 2009 6:56 PM
    Daggsmmm. strange, moving from one type of os to another, where did I saw that? ho, ubuntu, opensuse and etc. now microsoft wants to patent something that they didn't invented? what will happen next if it will be approved? they will sue ubuntu, opensuse and etc for patent stealing?


    that is exactly what happends, there are companies out there that all they do is troll the patent system for things that exist, but are not patented, then they patent it, sue the manufacturers and settle out of court, law firms and lawyers run amoc... large companies like ibm, intel, microsoft see the $$$ and for some now have been patenting anything and everything, reguardless of who actually invented it, then it goes to court they settle with each other and rake in the bucks, it, like our financial system, is quite crooked and a scandal, then again we have the best government money and buy.
  • 1 Hide
    Greatwalrus , May 20, 2009 6:58 PM
    Talking about control, Toms HW does not play nice with my NoScript. Drop down menus do not work, sign in link does not work etc. UNLESS I allow the entire page, which kind of makes NoScrip pointless. Anandtech does not have any trouble with my NoScript settings. I rarely read the articles any more because of the BS I have to put up with on this site. Guess Toms HW will be the loser in this battle, because I am tired of the control this site is trying to exersize over my browser settings.Bye


    Lol, do you actually think a site would go out of its way so that you can use your adblocking tools without issues?
  • 0 Hide
    lejay , May 20, 2009 6:59 PM
    Ahhh... Innovation.
  • 0 Hide
    fuser , May 20, 2009 7:00 PM
    I have a feeling that many of Microsoft's patents are defensive in nature. Everyone knows that MS has a ton of cash and some companies exist on a business model of: 1) Purchase IP patent, 2) sue anyone using it.
  • 2 Hide
    sublifer , May 20, 2009 7:02 PM
    Quote:
    It seems like so many corporations are trying out "tiered" methods now. It's now all about delivering less, and then charging more for "normal."--Ed.

    Exactly... I hate companies that do this and when I can will completely avoid using them. Reminds me of the rumors of Win7 being more expensive...
  • 1 Hide
    A Stoner , May 20, 2009 7:02 PM
    jsloanthat is exactly what happends, there are companies out there that all they do is troll the patent system for things that exist, but are not patented, then they patent it, sue the manufacturers and settle out of court, law firms and lawyers run amoc... large companies like ibm, intel, microsoft see the $$$ and for some now have been patenting anything and everything, reguardless of who actually invented it, then it goes to court they settle with each other and rake in the bucks, it, like our financial system, is quite crooked and a scandal, then again we have the best government money and buy.

    Nah, our government now has the best voting blocks money can buy...
  • 1 Hide
    cadder , May 20, 2009 7:02 PM
    Good for them, maybe bad for consumers if it is a way to get more money for the same product. My business is exactly the opposite- we get paid a set amount for our services and then people try to get us to do more for them.
  • 1 Hide
    vertigo_2000 , May 20, 2009 7:02 PM
    You also have to look at it from another POV. There are people out there that are going to get a 4 ghz machine clocked down to 1.8 ghz and never, ever upgrade.

    To me, that's the biggest waste.

    MS should just leave well enough alone... so someone's going to buy a dual core and 2 months later figure that for some reason he/she needs 4 cores. Oops... to me, that's your own fault. Shoulda thought ahead a little more about it before pulling the trigger on your PC purchase.

    When is the world going to stop trying to save everyone from their own stupidty/ignorance/naivity/laziness?
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