Now, a short time after withdrawing a patent application for an idea they copied from BlueJ, Microsoft have filed for a new software patent. What could the subject of this patent possibly be? Why, it's entitled "System and method for delivery of a modular operating system". From the abstract:
The patent relates to a method of delivery of an operating system where you start off with a very basic operating system, a kind of crippled starter edition, and then you pick and choose (and purchase) additional functionality, with DRM used to make sure you don't self-help. It's like modular copyleft, turning the advantages of GNU/Linux -- modularity there increases what you can do and what you can add and how well everything works -- and instead turns the concept on its head by using modularity plus DRM to restrict and contain and enforce.The article is quite a lengthy exposition of the patent application, and I won't try and further summarise it here - go, read for yourself. Most interesting, though, is the fact that some of these "add-on modules" are there to provide functionality that you would expect - nay, should demand - from the most basic installation of the OS. Plugging in all your peripherals, for example. Or having a network connection at the speed your hardware allows. Or having as many different programs open as you want, and that your computer can cope with. All of these things are flagged in the application as things available in addition to the basic kernel (eg with the possibility you have to pay for them).
As for the DRM... I believe I have my views already well-recorded on that shocking scheme for consumer manipulation and exploitation.
It's worth pointing out, of course, that "Microsoft doesn't need a patent to use this business model, nor does a patent application prove it will use the model." But who can argue that they're not headed that way?
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