Microsoft’s patent lawyers apparently apprenticed at the firm of Scrooge and Marley…

A new MS patent application, published Christmas Day, outlines a plan to have ‘standard model’ PCs given away (or heavily subsidized) by service providers who would then charge for use of the computers based on usage time and features accessed by users.

Sounds suspiciously like current cell phone marketing techniques which, in turn, are modelled on the old ‘razor and blades’ principle: Give away the razor but charge astronomical prices in perpetuity for the blades, (which, in reality, cost next to nothing to make).

The up side of this proposition is that some (non-intensive) users could save money over the usual scenario, where one must buy and maintain their own computer. But we foresee a rash of protests and outrage when the first monumental bills come in for intensive users who unwittingly rack up hours upon hours of usage charges just doing what they normally do.

MS even admits that its ‘Metered Pay-As-You-Go Computing Experience’ could end up costing some users more, over time, than the conventional PC purchase scenario.

In theory, at least, pay-as-you-go computing could be a huge cash cow for service providers — if enough users go for it.

But would you really want to be locked-in to the applications your service provider chooses to offer? What if you wanted to do something on your computer that the pay-as-you-go provider doesn’t offer an app for?

We stress that this notion is just that at the moment — a notion  — and one that does, in fact, fit with MS’s professed thrust to eventually migrate its software applications to the Cloud (i.e.- the Internet).

And, as has been pointed out many times in the past, not every patent filed by a major corporation like MS gets into production. Some patents are filed merely to preempt competitors from doing something similar. At the same time, let’s not forget that MS has put some patently bad ideas into production. Remember MS Bob and Clippy?

Stay tuned…

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