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Microsoft Owns Patent to Restricting Your Software

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.

  • dman3k
    Ed, prices tend to inflate. Yes, even computer software.
    Reply
  • bill gates is your daddy
    I'm sure a crack is being worked on as we speak.
    Reply
  • blackthorne
    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...
    Reply
  • IronRyan21
    Doesn't Microsoft own half the patent dept. It seems every other day we hear about some new patent.
    Reply
  • megamanx00
    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.
    Reply
  • cryogenic
    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/
    IBM's worldwide patent portfolio exceeds 40,000

    Quote from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/feb09/02-10PatentMilestone.mspx
    Microsoft has been awarded its 10,000th U.S. patent
    Reply
  • guess who
    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
    Reply
  • DeadlyPredator
    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
    Reply
  • jsloan
    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...
    Reply
  • Tedders
    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.ByeSee ya
    Reply