Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Patents the Crippling of Operating Systems

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the can't-have-just-anybody-writing-software-no-sir dept.

Patents 394

theodp writes "On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by 'making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer' until an 'agreed upon sum of money' is paid to 'unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.' According to Microsoft, this solves a 'problem inherent in open architecture systems,' i.e., 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.' An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.' Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft's eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who's been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges." Sounds like the mechanism by which Microsoft sells one version of Vista to all users, and lets users upgrade to higher-tier flavors of the OS after cash changes hands.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Huh? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017203)

How can they patent this? Microsoft has all sorts of prior art.

Oh, wait.

Re:Huh? (5, Interesting)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017387)

I suppose they're doing us a service with this patent. Now no one else can deliberately cripple their operating system. I suppose their motive was for that Max-3-Apps thing in the starter versions of 7.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017635)

I suppose they're doing us a service with this patent. Now no one else can deliberately cripple their operating system. I suppose their motive was for that Max-3-Apps thing in the starter versions of 7.

And didn't Vista have similar functionality?

I'm very surprised that this got through. I believe I'm staring at pieces of prior art in the form of a pair of Hypervisors which 'unlock' features after entering a key (stating that I purchased it). These happen to compete against Microsoft's Hyper-V...

I don't think that any real action will come of this particular patent. It smells to me like they're trying to justify some sort of innovation quota. I really can't see this being enforceable at all... But, I'm not the one arguing this in court either.

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

mccrew (62494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017881)

The date on the patent application is 2005. Vista was released November 8, 2006. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Huh? (5, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017663)

They just gave it a name: "Method and technique for getting user to pay money to continue accessing their data".

If you received a phone call using this technique, the FBI would call it a ransom demand...

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017913)

Phone calls can be traced. When I encrypt other peoples data, I prefer to be compensated with eGold.

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017499)

How can they patent this? Microsoft has all sorts of prior art.

Forget Microsoft. Enterprise (software and hardware) vendors have been doing this for decades.

Heck, anyone who has even a passing familiarity with "enterprise" infrastructure like SANs will be familiar with paying tens of thousands for a piece of paper with a license key printed on it to, say, unlock the other 32 ports on their Fibre Switch.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017587)

Oh totally. Until I started working in an enterprise 4 years ago, I had no idea how big of an industry there is for ripping off large companies.

* $1500 for a 500GB SATA2 hard drive
* $60,000/year for a search engine
* About the same for a web analysis program
* $1,000,000 for a 40TB SAN
* $6000 for a KVM that sucks and $100 a dongle.

And that's not even getting into what I've seen the Windows admins go through.

Re:Huh? (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017903)

Are those recent prices? And, is any of this gear actually "enterprise" level quality, or just expensive crap you can get for cheaper down at the best buy? Either way, that is some fucked up shit.

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017513)

Cool - does this mean Microsoft will go after malware developers who create a nuclear option or develop trojans which encrypt data and hard drives as a method of extortion? These certainly break Microsoft's newly awarded patent.

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017857)

Hello Verizon? Can you hear me now?

Verizon (and others) have been crippling features in phone OS's and charging to turn them back on for years.

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/02/1755207 [slashdot.org]

MS bashers (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017211)

are going to have a field day.

Re:MS bashers (0, Redundant)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017275)

I don't know, I think this is a genius move on MS' part.

LUSER: Hey, another BSOD!
MS: Oh yeah, we designed it that way. Look, we even have a patent and everything!

I think there's already a word for this. (1, Insightful)

Nesman64 (1093657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017223)

They call this: Ransom

Re:I think there's already a word for this. (1, Insightful)

ilblissli (1480165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017235)

and extortion

Now it can claim (2, Funny)

Shivinski (1053538) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017225)

"Microsoft, Crippling Operating Systems Since 2005..."

Re:Now it can claim (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017271)

You mean 1980 [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Now it can claim (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017335)

"Microsoft, Crippling Operating Systems Since 1995..."

FTFY.

Re:Now it can claim (2, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017437)

You clearly never used 3.1 ...

Re:Now it can claim (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017567)

No, I missed that one. But the Windows ME crap I had to put with more than made up for it.

Why not patenting bugs? (3, Funny)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017233)

They would rule the world with such a patent granted.

Re:Why not patenting bugs? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017621)

A patent on unintended features would have to contend with such venerable prior art as cat.

They fuck you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017237)

Leave you looking like this [goatse.fr] .

Windows Vista.

The day... (1)

Leptok (1096623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017255)

The day Microsoft figures out a way to stop piracy of their OS is the day I switch to Linux.

Re:The day... (2, Insightful)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017455)

So why don't you just switch to a Linux now? Piracy of Windows hurts both Linux and Microsoft, it shows that people are more willing to use pirated Windows than legally free Linux. Why anyone would want a pirated version of anything over a free alternative is beyond me, but then again it is probably like this: If breaking the law is cheaper than abiding by it and the breech isn't noticed, then it can be seen as just a good business move.

Re:The day... (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017653)

Whoosh!

Prior art in the mainframe world? (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017257)

There may be prior art for this in the mainframe or embedded-systems world.

Anyone think of anything?

Re:Prior art in the mainframe world? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017611)

There may be prior art for this in the mainframe or embedded-systems world.

Anyone think of anything?

Hell, there are examples of prior art all over the place. Plenty of old shareware, for example. Pay $x to have levels or features unlocked.

Of course, I DNRTFA, or the patent, so there's probably a ton of reasons that wouldn't apply as prior art.

Re:Prior art in the mainframe world? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017775)

There may be prior art for this in the mainframe or embedded-systems world.

There's certainly vast precedent for it in application software even in the conventional desktop market, so I'm not sure what they are doing with operating systems that is new enough to even arguably not fail for reasons of obviousness.

It's called "feature protection" (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017887)

There may be prior art for this in the mainframe or embedded-systems world.

The term of art is "feature protection". It's as old as mainframes.

(I believe it was a Univac where the difference between two models was a jumper that adjusted the clock rate. The info got out to the customers and one salesman was really embarrassed when he brought a prospective customer to an existing installation for a demo. The customer asked if he wanted to see it running as this model or that, pulling open a door and reaching for the jumper...)

One mainframe company I worked for put out a machine with multiple CPUs in it. The extras served as switch-in spares or for field upgrades if the customer paid to enable 'em.

It isn't just a "cheat" to get more money from the customers. On some devices (like printers) running at a higher speed increases the wear and the resulting maintenance requirements. Similarly, in the CPU case, running more CPUs increases the heating and shortens the life, while having less spares shortens the time until / increases the probability that you actually have to pull something out and replace it.

Making a single model and selling it as multiple levels using feature protection may be a lot less expensive (especially on high-dollar, low-volume products) than engineering multiple models. This benefit can be split between the manufacturer and the customers. It also makes upgrades a lot cheaper and less disruptive for both the customer and the company.

In software licensing it's been around since license manager software and dongles: Pay for more seats or more functions, they get turned on.

What's so special about doing it for OSes?

Who cares? (5, Insightful)

greywire (78262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017265)

Does MS actually think that *anybody* who makes an OS would want to do this (that isnt currently doing it, like themselves and.. anybody else?)?

As far as I know, the only real competition for Windows is MacOS and Linux variants...

It just goes to show how completely out of touch with reality they really are.

Re:Who cares? (4, Funny)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017363)

Good point. They might as well patent forcing the system to shut down every two hours... oh, wait...

Re:Who cares? (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017725)

Maybe they should patent invalidating older drivers with OS upgrades.

Or using additional cpu and memory resources for similar or less performance with OS upgrades?

(both of which are very good for business)

Of course there's lots of prior art. But I don't think anybody will challenge it.

Re:Who cares? (4, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017667)

This isn't just useful for stopping piracy, this is useful by the Feds and the NSA who deal with botnets and foreign agents hacking government agencies. They can send triggers to those machines to disable them. Of course this creates a customer support nightmare but as far as the NSA and Microsoft are concerned, they will just tell everyone they need to buy antivirus from Microsoft or purhcase a new computer from Dell.

It's a win-win for Microsoft and the feds. And that's all that anyone who will prosecute them cares about.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017701)

Does MS actually think that *anybody* who makes an OS would want to do this (that isnt currently doing it, like themselves and.. anybody else?)?

Probably, yes, they do think so.

How about a linux distro where you get vanilla distro for free, but the distributor charges extra to unlock chocolate sauce and cherries?

I mean, I have no idea if that's even *possible* under whatever licenses are in use now for linux... but I'm sure MS is paranoid that someone else could be making money off of an OS.

Perhaps a middleware behemoth who acquired a mature OS recently might bork the OS so it can't run some product the behemoth offers, unless the user pays extra for the OS? So users could still run a small db on the OS, but if they want to play with the big boys they have to pay like the big boys?

Anonymous (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017269)

Java sucks !

Re:Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017301)

You wanna know something. You suck!

ah, Billy Madison

Apples and apples (5, Insightful)

soniCron88 (870042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017273)

This is different than demos/shareware how?

Re:Apples and apples (5, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017489)

Ransomware. Crippleware [wikipedia.org] . Shareware. Nagware. Beerware... it's all been done [google.com] before. The only difference is that this is an "operating system" not an "application."

Apparently, that's enough of a distinction for the USPTO to award a patent.

This idea came from the MS BOB team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017279)

They plan on implementing this on MS's new OS called: TIMMY!

Is it just me... (5, Insightful)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017297)

Or does this read like the venture into a modularized price structure for an Operating System.

You want to Install Windows? $50

You want to Boot Windows? Another $50

You want to Install Applications? That'll be $100

You want to play Blu-Ray? That'll be another $50

You want sound on your Blu-Ray movie? Cough up $35

You want to use your peripherals? (Camera, webcam, ipod, printer, scanner) That'll be $10 per peripheral

After all, even the synopsis says "making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer' until an 'agreed upon sum of money' is paid to 'unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.'", who's to say they don't want to make a Windows Core available for some low price, then add Multimedia capability as a $200 add-on, or Gaming Pack for $150, maybe a Video/Sound Editing pack for $300, or a Small Business Suite for $300?

Reads to me like MS is gonna kick the consumer in the junk, then take their wallet

Re:Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017429)

This has been done before in a variety of cases... in particular, there's a variety of hardware platforms running custom operating systems where you can add (say) a "Firewall" license to your router/switch, or an "802.11n" license for your wireless access point. Are these close enough / earlier enough to be Prior Art-y?

Re:Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017497)

Or does this read like the venture into a modularized price structure for an Operating System.

Sounds like it. :-(

It may also be a way around anti-bundling lawsuits - "But we didn't bundle a working media player - the user had to pay extra for it"

~Hmmm. come to think of it, it sounds awfully like Apple shipping OS X, but charging extra for the fully functional QuickTime Pro

Crippled Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017305)

Is the natural state for Microsoft code.

Logical dilemma (5, Insightful)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017313)

> 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.'

If the functionality is beyond the purchaser's need or desire, why do you need to lock it away from them? If they have to pay you extra for that functionality, doesn't that imply that they really did need and desire those rights or functionality.

Re:Logical dilemma (5, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017619)

If the functionality is beyond the purchaser's need or desire, why do you need to lock it away from them? If they have to pay you extra for that functionality, doesn't that imply that they really did need and desire those rights or functionality.

Only if you assume the end-user requirements remain static.

Re:Logical dilemma (0)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017927)

I think the idea is that if someone only needs their computer to run a mail program and a web browser, they don't want to pay to run 3D rendering engines and games. This allows for a tiered pricing model for operating systems which could bring down the price of the dreaded Microsoft tax for many people.

The paradox (1)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017321)

What id funny is how, when it comes to security, their OS is too much open (need to run in admin mode to be usable). They want to close it, but to restrict the user, not to make it more secure!

Also, how long will the public accept this ? This may be a very dangerous game, considering what happend woth the DRM debacle in the digital audio distribution.

This might be new in the desktop OS market... (5, Informative)

Swift Kick (240510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017345)

... but it definitely isn't in other areas.

A number of NAS and SAN vendors ship products with features disabled on the OS until you pay a 'licensing fee' to unlock the features. NetApp, Isilon, and EMC/Clariion are just some I can think off the top of my head that do this.

Technically, it isn't quite the same as say, unlocking Windows 7 Ultimate from the Home version, but it's fairly common practice in the enterprise world.

DEC used to do it .. (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017721)

If memory serves me right, the only difference between a VAX-11/750 and a VAX-11/780 was an upgrade to the firmware floppy for one with all the CPU NO OPS taken out. And from what an engineer at the time told me, DEC stole the idea from IBM !

So vendors have been playing tricks like this since the late 80's.

Linux Lawsuits - NOT! (4, Insightful)

DodgeRules (854165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017357)

Well I doubt that Microsoft will ever sue Linux (users, distributors, etc) over the use of this patent.

Re:Linux Lawsuits - NOT! (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017483)

Well said - this is not a feature I think we'd ever see in Linux, so finally it's an MS patent that's of absolutely no threat to us.

prior art? (3, Interesting)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017359)

I'd think there would be plenty of prior art, especially in the more general "software" category.
Shareware for one.
There was also a "windows 3.x" shell clone back in the day that was also distributed as shareware and I think that limited some functionality.
Crap...can't remember the name of it...Geo something (sadly...I've been feeling nostalgic and been reading up on old game consoles so the only terms that comes to mind...is neo geo...d'oh)

What about the Amiga system....the OS was on a chip...and you had to pay to get it or you just had a "limited" (VERY) functioning computer...(more like a big paperweight).

I'm sure there have been some other lesser known operating systems in the crevices of history that had this "limited functionality" (shareware) mentality.

Re:prior art? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017569)

There was also a "windows 3.x" shell clone back in the day that was also distributed as shareware and I think that limited some functionality.

Are you thinking of GEOS? (It was also marketed as Geoworks, among other names.) GEOS is a true multitasking operating system. On PC it uses DOS only for filesystem access, which is actually a nice feature! There's an older, similar OS of the same name (confusingly) for Apple II computers and the C64, which is even more impressive given the limitations of the platform.

Re:prior art? (yes, but defense costs money) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017755)

They know they can't win if you have the money to challenge it but they can sue you and force you out of business by having you spend all your money on lawyers defending yourself or intimidate you into paying their ransom.

It is just another weapon to use against competitors.

That's why they file all those junk patents.

Re:prior art? (2, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017921)

I'm unclear on what you mean about the Amiga.
My first two had something similar to LILO on a floppy, and a second floppy that had the OS.
Later ones used several floppies unless you installed to (owner-installed) HD.

None needed any extra payments to get the system functional: you had to buy a separate word processor, compiler and such, but that's not really different from most computers of the late 1980's.

Maybe it's to stop malicious code (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017379)

I know this isn't popular, but maybe it's to stop malicious code? Instead of dumping Windows and starting over from scratch, it seems they are looking for an expedient way to shore up their OS while preserving all the legacy garbage they still support? And before you freak out, no, I don't think this is a good idea at all--I was just offering an alternative interpretation of why anybody would apply for such a patent.

Re:Maybe it's to stop malicious code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017689)

I was just offering an alternative interpretation of why anybody would apply for such a patent.

But one does not need to patent this method in order to use this method.

So the question is not, "why does Microsoft want to disable portions of the OS until cash changes hands," but rather "why does Microsoft feel they need a patent on this process?"

And, as usual, there are exactly three answers to that question:

1) To stop other companies from doing the same thing, thereby giving Microsoft a competitive advantage.
2) To charge other companies for doing the same thing, thereby skimming off the top of the profitability of their competitors.
3) To avoid being stopped from doing this, or having to pay royalties for doing this, from other companies who might also patent this idea.

Who owns your computer? (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017385)

Obviously not you if you've got this installed.

Re:Who owns your computer? (2, Insightful)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017731)

With or without this, if you run Windows you never owned it. Microsoft have never sold a piece of software, they never will; it's not in their makeup.

Get a rope! (0)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017393)

It's time that Microsoft be fined right out of their socks. There have been too many instances of improper tactics to allow Microsoft to retain any wealth or value as a company.

Product activation (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017423)

They've patented product activation. You don't get the full app till you pay up, or find a crack.

Seriously, is this really any different than the countless other schemes for product activation that have been tried and found lacking over the years?

Re:Product activation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017601)

They've patented product activation. You don't get the full app till you pay up, or find a crack.

Seriously, is this really any different than the countless other schemes for product activation that have been tried and found lacking over the years?

It makes your crack of the software useless unless you have the OS cracked too. Mobiles do this all the time. I worked on a Motorola LJ (Linux-Java) Razor prototype and the majority of the time was spent shutting or locking down access to Linux functions that mobile carriers would like to charge for. Just like corrupt governments, big companies take away freedom in the name of consumer protection, security, and unused features ... then try to sell it back to you as extended functionality. I don't work there anymore.

Re:Product activation (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017607)

Seriously, is this really any different than the countless other schemes for product activation that have been tried and found lacking over the years?

Apparently it's automated and fully in-product. The former is not that unusual, you can buy functionality for Quickbooks over the internet for example. Even having links to buy stuff on the 'net is not unusual. This seems (from the description, since I am way too lazy to RTFA let alone RTFP) like it is to that as Windows Update in Vista is to windowsupdate.microsoft.com or whatever.

In other words, whoop de doo. If you think this is bad, you must hate shareware. (Mind you, I despise crippleware and prefer to buy something else on general principles...)

Hah! Too funny. (4, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017433)

An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.'

Well sure, let's fix that then. I have an experiment I'd like to try if this is the case.

Let's order up some Windows 7 and not pay. MS will remove my ability to install new programs on it, right?

...by 'making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer' until an 'agreed upon sum of money' is paid to 'unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.'

Ta da! I'm now immune to viruses and worms. And all it took was not paying MS. So glad that one is finally solved completely. No new software can ever be run on my machine. I'm safe now.

Thanks guys.

VIRUS (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017443)

So if you create a virus that stops the functionality of your OS, is M$ gonna sue you for patent infringement?

Prior art - blackmail trojan horses! (2, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017457)

Malware / trojan / virus writers have been doing this for years... locking up your computer files with encryption until you pay them money.

Just because it wasn't a "commercial" application, doesn't mean it's not prior art!

Prior Art (5, Insightful)

tricorn (199664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017471)

Although I have no problem with Microsoft holding a monopoly on this sort of "innovation", commercial operating systems have always had different levels of functionality that can be enabled or disabled. Sun's UNIX, for example, had a very complex set of rights to run compilers, debuggers, specify the number of CPUs, and otherwise limit the available features or products that could run, with many different types of licensing schemes (e.g. number of simultaneous users).

Now, maybe the MS patent details some particularly clever method of validating usage, or changing allowed usage, but this type of thing is definitely not new.

Remember the IBM mainframes where you "upgraded" your hardware to have more disk space or memory by the Customer Engineer flipping a switch?

It's amazing how much money and effort has been spent on making products do less for the customer, and making them less reliable in the process. Wouldn't we all be better off if all that had been used to produce systems that worked better? Instead of HDTV sets that can't display high-resolution images from your computer because it doesn't have the right version of HDMI, they could have actually improved the quality and decreased the price, all because we can't solve the free rider problem in a more elegant fashion. My TV set won't pass on the full digital audio from my Blu-Ray player's HDMI output to my amp, it downsamples it to PCM stereo, even though the Blu-Ray player is happy to send a full resolution optical digital audio stream to that same amp. It isn't a problem with the TV, it happily sends 5-channel audio to the amp from digital broadcasts. It's so stupid that we have to put up with this garbage all so one industry can maximize profits.

Re:Prior Art (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017677)

Not to mention planned obsolescence

Paging DEC... (4, Interesting)

Burdell (228580) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017493)

DEC Unix (aka DEC OSF/1 AXP, Compaq/HP Tru64 Unix) has done this since day one (and IIRC VMS did it before that). You have to enter License PAKs to get all kinds of functionality, including multi-user logins, development tools, cluster support, and AdvFS filesystem utilities.

This is a good thing... (0, Redundant)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017495)

... patent all the anti-user freedom crap and we'll all be using better systems (open source) sooner....

MS Crippled OS Patent (3, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017503)

Don't they mean trademark? ;)

Yes, please! (3, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017515)

"Sounds like the mechanism by which Microsoft sells one version of Vista to all users, and lets users upgrade to higher-tier flavors of the OS after cash changes hands"

Yes please!

Okay, look, I'm not really interested in encouraging people to use MS Windows. But in those situations where I am forced to support it, having the ability to enable additional features on an as-needed basis would be vastly superior to having to license and install a whole different "edition" of the whole freakin' OS to get the same feature set. (You bought a new touchscreen monitor and you want to add tablet support to XP? Great, that'll be forty bucks, ten minutes, and we're all done. As opposed to now, when it officially requires an OS reinstall.)

Plus, having the ability to monetize services individually will - Lord forgive me for seeing a bright side here - will encourage Microsoft to ship with a minimal default install, which one would hope would lead to improved overall security.*

The patent is pretty laughable, though. It strikes me as a tad obvious.

[*: Yeah, okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But hey, it could happen!]

Yes, obvious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017781)

Yes, and at the USPTO, "any sufficiently obvious idea is indistinguishable from innovation."

This should be their new motto. What a joke. Can anyone translate it into Latin? (Apologies to the late Arthur C. Clarke.)

I said this before... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017525)

...with Lala Invents Network DRM [slashdot.org] , but seems to apply here...

The 80s called. They want their floating licenses [wikipedia.org] back.

Of all the firms that might try to patent this... (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017531)

... Microsoft is certainly the one that deserves it. They've been practicing at it longer than anybody else, starting with Windows XP nine years ago. This is one patent, sadly, that Microsoft actually earned.

I like how the headline works (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017535)

Microsoft's patent practice is crippling the operating system as well as they have patented the process of crippling it.

I for one think this is great (2, Interesting)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017537)

Somebody paying to patent something no one else wants to do.

Prior Art? (2, Interesting)

Imagix (695350) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017571)

Uh, isn't there scads of prior art, specifically Shareware? Happens to be time-limited until it demands money. Or Doom which let you have the first portion until you paid them, then you got the remaining portions. And there's not much really different between an OS and any other program (fundamentally speaking...). Cheat codes in games?

device drivers? (1)

boshi (612264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017579)

The mention of device drivers makes me wonder. Are they going to start limiting the kinds of devices you can install based on the version of OS?

They already limit how many CPU sockets you can have based on the version, I wonder if they'll start limiting the kinds of video cards and such accessories based upon the version too...

Invalidated by definition (5, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017603)

I wodner if this could be challenged since patents are used, by definition (emphasis added), "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Essentially by making the OS crippled they are actually regressing the useful art of the OS. It'd by like trying to patent a fridge that made its contents warmer.

lol (0, Troll)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017617)

MS is its own prior art!

We can patent... (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017623)

Blackmailing?

Finally a patent Linux will never infringe! (2, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017649)

Microsoft and it's victims, I mean customers, can keep this little jewel all to themselves!

A nice game of monopoly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017675)

Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.'

Shock horror, I wonder how much Micro$oft will charge users or developers to run opensource software on windows? or freeware/shareware. Damn altruistic programmers and their need to share their latest creations with humanity.

hey ho (1)

hachete (473378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017709)

I thought they patented windows a long time ago. Hey ho.

Every turd has a silver lining (2, Interesting)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017735)

So does this mean Microsoft is now the only company allowed to do this?

There is ALL SORTS of prior art on this (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017751)

If you exclude the fact that we are talking about "operating system" as opposed to "applications software" there has been software written and distributed with all sorts of "pay to enable" functionalities for more than two decades. These patents that attempt to make the old into new by adding "on the internet" or "in an operating system" is pretty deceptive and shouldn't be considered any sort of newness or novel additive. Of course all software patents should be invalidated to begin with.

UAC? (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017765)

It sounds like MS wants to charge us for every time we click on the UAC "Accept" button. Wow, the business reasons behind Vista's UAC feature finally make sense to me now. They should change that "ding" sound with a "cha-ching".

Patent infringement (1)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017769)

If you didn't know better, this sounds like a malware patent. Perhaps Microsoft are planning to shut malware writers down with patent infringement lawsuits. It does beg the question of who invented this crippleware concept as many have pointed out with shareware and malware both as prior art. Maybe some patent trolls funded by malware infections should have patented this first and sued Microsoft for infringement.

OH NOES! (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017779)

> An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.'

Of my dear Lord! You wouldn't want someone not working for a duly licensed corporate entity to be able to write for your corporate approved operating system.

First Joe Sixpack will write something for his own computer and then the terrists.

That statement is un-farking-believable.

Crippling Your Own Product (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017793)

Is it just me or is corporations intentionally crippling their own products the epitome of free market failure?

No problem (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017817)

Hey, that's fine. They can set as many limits as they want, I'll be smiling as I run Debian Linux and use my computer without ridiculous restrictions such as these.

Prior Art? (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017823)

This is the whole premise of Shareware... And doesn't RedHat, what was BeOS, and others offer free/"personal" versions of their OS, then also offer pay-for versions with more functionality?

AHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017863)

I was RIGHT ALL ALONG! They ARE against us!!!

IBM (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017869)

If I were IBM, I'd be looking back at my own portfolio. IBM's been doing pay-to-unlock on their mainframe OSes since the 60s. They've even been doing it with their hardware. And I'd imagine they've got at least a couple of patents related to this stuffed away in their files.

"Problems" with open systems? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017897)

According to Microsoft, this solves a 'problem inherent in open architecture systems,' i.e., 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.' An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.'

So, according to Microsoft, problems with open architecture systems is that:
(1) The people who license (whether by purchase or otherwise) those systems can use them fully, and
(2) People can easily develop application software for them.

Why would anyone want to buy (or, for that matter, develop software for) an operating system from anyone who considers those things problems?

sarcastic mode: engaged (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017923)

According to Microsoft, this solves a 'problem inherent in open architecture systems,' i.e., 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.'

Software sometimes ships with features that go unused? Horrors!

An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.'

Silly me, for decades I've been foolishly believing that that this was a feature of open architecture systems rather than a problem. Thank gods Microsoft is around to help save us from such crazy thoughts.

This is new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017925)

This is a new patent, of course. They already patented an OS where users have a bad experience, so with this new patent MS may provide a way for you to get an experience that is worst as you pay more.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?