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Microsoft Moves To Patent Time-Based Software Licensing

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-can-we-squeeze-the-customer-more dept.

Microsoft 118

theodp writes "Microsoft's Open Value Subscription offering didn't get the warmest reception. Nor did the follow-up announcement of Albany, a planned MS-Office Subscription Service. Now comes word from the USPTO that Microsoft feels it deserves a patent for the 'invention' of 'Time-Based Licensing,' which aims to make the traditional pay-once perpetual license model a thing of the past. Hey, if your customers were waiting nine years between OS upgrades, you'd try touting a three-year lease with a balloon buy-out payment, too!"

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Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (4, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699457)

Microsoft feels it deserves a patent for the 'invention' of 'Time-Based Licensing,' which aims to make the traditional pay-once perpetual license model a thing of the past.

If they successfully patent time-based software licensing, wouldn't that make the traditional model a more viable solution?

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (3, Insightful)

clong83 (1468431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699503)

That's what I was thinking. I would assume that would then mean Microsoft were the only ones doing it... Or they would be charging other firms that want to do the same, thus making a less attractive option. If Microsoft wants to patent being a douche, more power to them.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699791)

As usual on slashdot regarding patents, everyone forgets that they are quite explicit about the actual patent claims. Atleast these hit my eye:

13. The processing device of claim 8, wherein the memory further comprises instructions for changing a type of a license from a first type to a second type.

14. The processing device of claim 8, wherein the memory further comprises instructions for changing a time-based license to a perpetual license based on a number of activations of the time-based license.

15. A tangible machine-readable medium having instructions recorded thereon for at least one processor, the instructions comprising:instructions for validating and using a received time-based license of any one of a plurality of types, the time-based license having a plurality of configurable parameters defining properties of the time-based license; andinstructions for displaying, an amount of time before a valid time-based license expires.

16. The tangible machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for providing a user interface to permit a user to enter time-based license commands and to view information with respect to a time-based license.

17. The tangible machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for displaying to a user a message warning of an impending license expiration at predetermined time periods before a time-based license expires.

18. The tangible machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the instructions further comprise:instructions for granting a right to use a fully enabled software product associated with the time-based license when the time-based license has remaining time, andinstructions for not granting the right to use the fully enabled software product when the time-based license has no remaining time.

19. The tangible machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the instructions further comprise:instructions for displaying information regarding a time-based license, andinstructions for executing the instructions for displaying an amount of time before a valid time-based license expires, at a predetermined time period before expiration of the valid time-based license.

20. The tangible machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the instructions further comprise:instructions for providing an application program interface for an application to request activation of a time-based license.

And like is even stated in the patent description:

[0002]Some existing systems issue licenses for a predetermined period of time. However, the systems are not flexible enough to issue licenses suitable for a number of different licensing business models.

Read the whole thing [uspto.gov] before jumping into stupid conclusions.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (2, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700675)

Does anyone have a human-readable version of this?

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700911)

if you add the -h parameter to the call, it should format it properly for human readable I believe.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701633)

I have to inform you that adding a -h parameter to an application invocation to instruct it to produce human-readable output is patented by us. If you do not already have a license agreement with us for using the -h parameter in your application, please contact our sales department.

Any use of the -h parameter in this way without a proper license agreement with us will be considered patent infringement and will result in legal action to the fullest extent of the law.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701103)

Hmm, substitute 'internet' for 'software' and 'service' for 'licence' and, you pretty much have the typical system for altering the nature of your internet connection online, for number of, period, capacity and speed. Sounds like some tea leaf (that's cockney rhyming slang nothing to do with crazy republicans) at M$ documented their ISP's system and is trying to patent it because it hasn't been patented yet. It should have been really obvious and recognisable to all the M$ executives all the way up the line but, lie, cheat and steal is just in their nature from the top down, really a lame effort of this one though.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701177)

It's still just patenting a business model ala software... rejected...

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702663)

That sounds very much like they trying to get a patent on something they just fought in court.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700025)

Or they would be charging other firms that want to do the same...

Probably using some kind of Temporal-Increment Adjusted Use-Royalties Scheme... hmmm, sounds like the perfect time to patent a Recursive Licensing Method!

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701763)

Kinda looks like MS is attempting to perfect a process of applying for patents designed to annoy and incense the average consumer.

Perhaps someone could patent an incremental qualitative annoyance licensing process? That way, for each increasingly inane step MS takes to annoy it's customers, they could be sued for violation of that patent and recovery of licensing fees. ...not that I expect it to stand, but it makes about as much sense as this potential abomination.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (4, Funny)

camperslo (704715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699621)

NASA please test!

It's believed there may be water in the soil in Redmond

Re:NASA please test! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699859)

NASA please test!

It's believed there may be water in the soil in Redmond

bthis time, please use a nuke so we're guaranteed to see the dust plume.

After all, nuking them from orbit is the only way to be sure!

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701977)

NASA please test! It's believed there may be water in the soil in Redmond

That's not water, it just looks like water from afar. It's a blue screen with little white letters.
         

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700079)

I guess I can patent the "time-based licensing" of Tupper Ware? I think the Patent Office should invest in a cheap Thesaurus I would even give them mine from college, you know, "it's for the kids", and to, "fight terrorism".

Patent application != patent (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702263)

Slashdot fsck-up on patent terminology yet again.
This is a published patent application, which has not yet been examined at all. Check its status on PAIR (12/099137 is the application number) and you will see "Docketed new case - Ready for examination", which merely means they've submitted enough paperwork and fees that an examiner will read the thing soon. If you're a bit masochistic, you could go to the Image File Wrapper and read the official correspondence between the applicant's attorney and the PTO, which will include the examiner's material when it becomes available.
There are many steps between the start of examination and the issue of a patent, during which the claims may have to be narrowed or revised or rewritten completely. Some applications get chucked out, no matter how loud and prolonged the howls of the applicant. In most cases which actually issue as patents, the claims get modified to some extent. Claim 1 of this application looks like it will be treated somewhat roughly by the examiner during prosecution.

Re:Traditional model a thing of the past? Really? (1)

aurizon (122550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702439)

This is very exciting, you can have books licensed this way. After a while the pages go blank, or they go to a reduced functionality where all the vowels vanish, then the consonants, in frequency of use sequence, until all that is left are the Qs, four of them.
Yes, the four Q screen of death(pages also go blue then).
The potential is unlimited...

Matlab (4, Informative)

volpe (58112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699497)

Invention? What the heck are they talking about? My Matlab license has been time-based for years. I remember one day Matlab stopped working for me because I never got around to entering the new license number that our IT folks emailled me a few weeks earlier.

Re:Matlab (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699663)

Invention? What the heck are they talking about? My Matlab license has been time-based for years. I remember one day Matlab stopped working for me because I never got around to entering the new license number that our IT folks emailled me a few weeks earlier.

I find htat venders uzwolly forgit to tern off feeturs. Four exampul, my spail chekker lisense ran out, butt it steal fixes all my werds just fyne, flaging and perviding opshuns az uzwoll. Woodent that bee funnie iff it listed rong werds aftur? Ha, I probly woodent notiss teh differns anyhowl.
       

Re:Matlab (3, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700019)

prior to expiring you should have used Matlab to brute force the algorithm for generating keys...
But you forgot to do that, so you had to go and retrieve that e-mail. How silly.

SAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29700065)

SAS [www.sas.com] have been doing time based licensing for years. You get a license key (called a setinit) for X years, which is the duration of the contract (1-3 years typically). When the license expires the software stops working. PERIOD. The main language (called SAS funnily enough!) is interpreted at run time, so with no valid software key, all the software that been developed in SAS stops working. There is no "run-time" version.

Re:Matlab (2, Informative)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701417)

Back in the early 90s one CAD vendor (no, not that one) had a novel approach to licence renewal..

We got a call from one of our big customers saying that a number of machines in the drawing office had popped up a cryptic message saying that there was a problem with an installed application and to stop using the computer otherwise data may be lost. I rushed over to find that the company had ordered all staff off their (networked) PCs and had shut them down in case there was a spreading virus.

I isolated one PC and powered it up, scanned it to death and found nothing. I scanned a few more (nothing) and slowly got the company up and running. Then one of the CAD PCs popped up the message again and I had a read and noticed a phone number - our customer had not got that far before panicking and switching the PC off.

I rang the number and found myself speaking to the CAD Company's sales team, who glibly informed us "Oh yes, that means their licence has expired and the message is designed to make customers call us as soon as possible to renew!"

I passed the matter back to our customer and "words were had". I think some form of compensation for downtime and our charges was agreed.

Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into... (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699531)

This patent is absurd.

Ok, let's collect up the prior art and kill this patent in it's tracks.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699635)

Don't waste effort on this one. As others said, this is actually helpful :)

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700585)

Don't waste effort on this one. As others said, this is actually helpful :)

If Microsoft wants to patent being a douche, more power to them.

That is how it is useful.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (2, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699643)

So.. we can have more time based software licensing? Yeah, I'll get right on that.

I was once part of an in house testing group of a software package. Even in pre alpha stage dev, they time limited the testing builds. I guess it was to entice us to always test with the latest, rather than the stable version from last month. That's about the only good use of it I've known.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699765)

This patent is absurd.

It is (like every patent described on Slashdot) described poorly.

The patent is not a business-model patent for time-based licensing, its a technology patent for a specific scheme of enforcing time-based licensing rules.

The way its described in TFS there would certainly be massive prior art. I'm less sure about the particular scheme they're actually trying to patent.

Though, from the description in TFA, regardless of prior art, the scheme seems painfully obvious, so I wouldn't be surprised if existing time-based licenses use this enforcement scheme already.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700309)

The patent is not a business-model patent for time-based licensing, its a technology patent for a specific scheme of enforcing time-based licensing rules.

No, it isn't. The claims of the patent are so ridiculously vague they would cover any such technology. Here's claim 1:

"1. A machine-implemented method for licensing a software product, the machine-implemented method comprising:generating a time-based license from among a plurality of types of time-based licenses in response to receiving a request for the time-based license, each of the plurality of types of time-based licenses having a plurality of configurable parameters, a combination of the plurality of types of time-based licenses and the plurality of configurable parameters being capable of accommodating a plurality of licensing business models; andsending the time-based license to an originating processing device of the request for the time-based license."

This patent would cover any automated software licensing business offering multiple types of limited time licenses, and is therefore a business model patent, not a technology one.

The more specific claims don't add much, either:

2 - some licenses are renewable
3 - supports a restriction on how many times the software can be reactivated
4 - product keys that can be used on a specified number of computers
5 - system for switching to a permanent license after a certain number of limited ones
6 - (I don't understand this claim; can somebody translate for me?)
7 - some licenses might not start immediately
8 - computer with the above scheme in memory
9-14 - covers a management user interface, really boring stuff
15 - above scheme stored on machine-readable media
16 - a command line interface to license management
17 - displaying a warning when the license is about to expire
18 - making the software stop working when the license expires
19 - informing the user how long the software will continue working for
20 - an api whereby a program can query whether it is licensed or not

Seriously. This is all _basic_ stuff, and covers just about every possible implementation, not just a single implementation of the idea.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701037)

Not to mention the basic idea looks like someone said "well what if we issued NT security tickets for software licensing?" and then some PHB said "great idea! let's get a patent on that!" and then the attorney said "ok well we have to cutesy it up some so it won't look like we're just making the obvious extension of the existing security infrastructure."

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (2, Interesting)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701075)

My copy of Kaspersky Antivirus does much of what they are claiming:

Claims 1, 2, 4, 9-15, 17-20 for sure.

In fact, most AV software works in this manner, and has for years.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701077)

Looks like MS decided to patent FlexLM after the fact.

- T

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701339)

Who cares. Let them patent it. Then no one else will want to pay to use it.

The PTO needs a "sure, have it" clause for anti-customer patents.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (1)

sabs (255763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700561)

Doesn't WoW and every MMORPG in the world use this scheme :)

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (4, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700127)

This patent is absurd.

Two things. One, this is not a patent. It's an application. You can put literally anything you want in a publication, and it will get published after 18 months, even though nobody's looked at it. I could file an application, and my first claim could be, "I claim a data storage device comprising a magnetic platter containing a plurality of magnetic bits, each bit configured to have two states, wherein each state represents alternately a 0 or a 1." That application would publish after 18 months with that claim, and everybody on /. would be hoppin' mad that I'd gotten a patent on the hard drive. And they would be completely wrong. Just because you ask for a particular, broad claim, doesn't mean you're going to get it.

Second, I doubt that you've done anything close to the analysis to even know if the filed claims are "absurd." What do the claims say? Do you know? What disclosure supports them? Does the disclosure have any limiting definitions or statements? Is there any file wrapper estoppel? Are the claims statutory subject matter under Bilski? I'm betting you don't know, which means you don't know if these claims are absurd or not.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701055)

Well said. It takes a lawyer to twist plain language and common sense into nonsensical retoric.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701113)

We would all (correctly) think your a douche for trying to patent hard drives.

I claim a data storage device comprising a magnetic platter containing a plurality of magnetic bits, each bit configured to have two states, wherein each state represents alternately a 0 or a 9"
rule no1, of patent obfusation, always make your system sound more complex than it has to!

Don't need any prior art... (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701461)

...because it's too blatantly obvious.

Re:Give me a break... time keeps on ticking into.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701617)

AutoDesk AutoCAD, and most any other CAD software have been doing this for years with student versions. Heck so far in the past 3 years I've purchased AutoCAD twice for 1 year each time and Solidworks once for 2 years, I also purchased CATIA for 1 year once. Also please note that what I'm referring to means the software stops working after it expires, it doesn't cripple itself or end support, it really stops.

Hi, Microsoft! (3, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699543)

Name's flexlm. I see you're new around here, and determined to reinvent everything that was done on *nix 30 years ago.

But seriously--what here is new? Time based licensing has been around forever. Get the feeling they're just flailing around trying to find some revenue model that'll continue to extract money out of their customers? Microsoft's fundamental problem is that they've already sold many people what they need. XP works fine for me. I don't need Vista. Or 7. Office is fine. I don't care about the next round of bells and whistles. Most of what most of us do doesn't require them.

I don't really begrudge them some kind of revenue, but the more they demand, the better alternatives (OpenOffice, Google Docs, or hell, just buying a mac and being done with it) look.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699819)

Name's flexlm. I see you're new around here, and determined to reinvent everything that was done on *nix 30 years ago.

I see you're new around here and determined to think I give a flying fuck about you and what you know about how computer licensing should work. Thankfully you aren't my target market. My target market is corporate IT, moron Mr. and Mrs. Blow, and anyone else that wants to buy a machine that's priced below $599 and who still want to be able to use the same media, documents, etc that they do everyday on the machines/software we sold to the corporate IT shop that handles their work computer. These people don't care about your ideals, your knowledge of how the world "should" work, and the fact that Linux, Apple, and free software exist at either a markup or insane markdown with a steep learning curve.

What's new here? Not you. So why don't you go the fuck away, before I throw a chair at you, and let me rake these poor douchebags over the coals so my stock options will go up a few percentage points more before a retirement full of picking the legs off of flies, throwing people off the towers of my 16th home in the French Riviera and throwing chairs in my $23 million dollar rubber room.

Thanks,
Steve Ballmer.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699841)

Dear Mr. Ballmer,

I think I speak for the rest of the class when I say: Fuck You!

Sincerely,
Anonymous Coward.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699831)

I was sure you were SecurityGuy... man, you had me fooled, flexlm.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! From Cadence (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699945)

Name's also Cadence, who had a system to issue time-based licenses automatically based on customer request. EDACard, I think they called it. While not exactly the same, I think that everything describes is obvious based on waht Cadence did with their EDACard program and FlexLM.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! From Cadence (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700087)

Name's also Cadence, who had a system to issue time-based licenses automatically based on customer request. EDACard, I think they called it. While not exactly the same, I think that everything describes is obvious based on waht Cadence did with their EDACard program and FlexLM.

Really? Cadence software I have here is using flexlm... have they changed recently?

Re:Hi, Microsoft! From Cadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29702169)

EDACard is like a web based license purchasing program. The license you get is for flexlm.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29700461)

I would disagree with 'forever'. Perhaps quantify it as the Holocene epoch, or the last 12,000 years.

It's an old idea, new application base.

If you define 'perpetual licence' as 'marriage' and 'by the hour' as prostitution, then I'm sure there are a whole bunch of equivalents available for all proposed licencing arrangements. (Polygamy, mistresses,...) Divorce lawyers are free to comment on the relative merits of the business models.

So maybe blow-up dolls in future will not only have an OS, they will only be allowed Windows. Even condoms will have an OS. The important step is to get the patent. You don't have to invent land to own it.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700625)

This is the most insightful AC post I have ever read. I would say mod it up but its AC so meh.

Re:Hi, Microsoft! (2, Interesting)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701193)

Microsoft's fundamental problem is that they've already sold many people what they need. XP works fine for me. I don't need Vista. Or 7. Office is fine. I don't care about the next round of bells and whistles. Most of what most of us do doesn't require them.

Except Microsoft chooses which you can use. Soon they'll stop selling licenses for XP, you can already only get it on netbooks, and even they probably know that XP is a better product, but force Vista on you anyways. And the same goes for Office - not that I've looked, but I'm pretty sure you couldn't buy Office 2003 if you wanted to.

This is the failure of the software-by-one-company-for-profit model.

good for FOSS I guess (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699549)

Microsoft is effectively trying to patent the single most effective method of convincing ordinary users that alternatives are worth trying. That or piracy... Either way, it doesn't look like a very smart thing for MS to be doing.

Re:good for FOSS I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699583)

ah yes. another nail in the coffin. keep thinking that. i've been hearing this shit out of the f/oss community for over a decade. what a bunch of stooges.

Re:good for FOSS I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699681)

Yeah, just in this case, it isn't Foss with whom M$ is on crash course.
It is other licensors who are supposed to be unable to perform time based extortion from now.
HAHA.
Either way, this is a win.
There is plenty of prior art, so M$ will most likely fall flat on their face.
Or, it will prevent others to pull the same stunt.

El Crasho (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699553)

you'd try touting a three-year lease with a balloon buy-out payment, too!

Isn't the Mortgage Bubble Crash prior art?
       

Dangerous move (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699601)

People have options these days. I'm on the knife edge myself and Vista was annoying enough to have me considering a shift. Turn my software and OS into a ticking time bomb and I'm likely to jump ship. Microsoft is desperate to establish a revenue stream that requires no innovation or effort on their part. Vista falling on it's face confirmed for them the need for putting a gun to their users heads to keep money flowing.

Talk about no innovation! (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699655)

The licensing business models may include, for example, a non-renewable evaluation of a software product, a renewable trial of the software product, a one-time promotion of the software product, a subscription for use of the software product, or other licensing business models for use of the software product

What next, charge by the minute like in the old mainframe days?!

Re:Dangerous move (2, Interesting)

^_^x (178540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699697)

Yeah. Now that I'm out of school and can afford to, I buy my copies of Windows. If they charged by time period, I wouldn't be against cracking them again.

Look at things differently... (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700793)

What if you could buy software that was a service? One that provided excellent availability, convenience, automatic backups, and automatic updates?

Oh yeah... you can!

Many software products nowadays are not products, but in fact, services. From Google's Gmail-based email hosting (for schools and businesses) to customer relationship management (Salesforce, et al) to my own company's products, many software products, especially software targeting larger organizations, are actually best sold as a service.

It's now a feature that many directors in organizations are looking for - they don't want to have to buy servers and hire staff and do backups and apply patches and all that - they'd rather just login and get started. If the software is commodity and doesn't represent any special "mojo", SaaS (Software as a Service) or by its new name, "Cloud Computing" can make lots of sense.

Now, perhaps *you* don't want this. And that's fine. You aren't required to buy it. But it's not some horrid conspiracy. It's just a reflection of the fact that, in many cases, the cost of hosted applications can be dramatically lower while simultaneously improving the overall service quality by moving the application hosting closer to the people who produce the software in the first place!

Per-hour usage coming soon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699671)

How long until the Office license is a metered per-hour billing fee?... or a per-document opened fee? Or a parking meter style, guess how many minutes you need in advance fee?

Absurdity.

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

Spellvexit (1039042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699793)

Well, that's a bit more tricky than you'd think -- they'd have to adjust the rate based upon the speed of the processor as well. It wouldn't be fair for a quad-core user to pay the same rate as a dual-core! Something's got to be done!

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700043)

Hi I'm from Chip-Co, I'd like to remind you that we support the FlatFee metering model. If you want more value from your time license then obviously you should buy our 80 core AdNausium CPU.
-nB

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699803)

How about a cell-phone style plan where you pay a monthly fee, and you get X minutes per month, whether you use them or not.

Also, any minutes you don't use, you lose.

If you go over your minutes, the charge for overage is 100X as much per minute.

Also, previewing documents counts against your minutes.

E-mailing a .DOCX file incurs an extra charge (ala SMS messages)

Printing a .DOCX file incurs 10X the SMS charge (aka extra charges for MMS messages over SMS)

So does receiving an e-mailed .DOCX file... the software can tell, since it stamps a unique ID on each document tied to you and your Office install.

Also, the fee is double to read a .DOCX that you received not using the 'send as e-mail' feature.

Working with documents on a shared drive even more so.

Moreover, for your computer to participate in the 'Office Network', certain features have to get disabled. Mainly, your ability to run third-party document software like OOo. And the copy & paste feature and file upload abilities of third-party instant messenger software will be disabled.

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699873)

One thing i've noticed about MS is that so far at least they really aren't that anal about using technical means to enforce thier licensing. Afaict a kms can activate as many vista machines are try to connect to it and they stay activated for a long time. XP volume licenses didn't need activating at all. MS offers some subscription licensing options but afaict thier expiry is only enforced through the legal system not by anything technical.

Compare that to specialist products like matlab and altium where mac locked or even dongle locked licenses are the norm for single installations and installations using a license server disable themselves if they can't access the license server for some short period of time (I think it's about 15 minuites for altium)

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700173)

They've been getting more anal with every new release of Windows. In Windows 3.1, you typed in a key and you were done. For corporate VL installs, you just used a master image for all machines, no keys, no activation..

Then XP came around.. activation for home/small business; no activation for enterprise VL. WGA introduced later for everyone as an optional addon.

Then Vista.. activation for everyone (either activation of the copy, or activation of an Enterprise KMS). WGA built-in.

In the future, expect KMS to be more like terminal services licensing where limits are enforced.

installations using a license server disable themselves if they can't access the license server for some short period of time (I think it's about 15 minuites for altium)

Typically, because the license server releases licenses a short time after the client last checked in...

These product vendors are draconian from the start, because they have an extremely small market, and their products are highly expensive.

License abuses would be widely committed if they weren't so draconian.

Windows licenses are cheap by comparison, and their market is massive: Windows is practically a commodity.

Also, there's no such thing as releasing a Windows license... generally these tools are permanently associated with the computer they are used on, and use so common, a license server just introduces unacceptable latency.

Some license error doesn't hurt MS much at all, for an Enterprise Windows user to be using a dozen more copies than they had paid for, accidentally as otherwise...

Enterprises that are large enough run KMS servers generally have to be pretty vigilant about software licensing, for regulatory compliance and internal accounting reasons, already.

On the other hand, if a MATLAB user with a license server gets 20 more concurrent users at a time than allowed, that's over $30,000...

If an org activates 20 more Vista installs on a KMS than they're supposed to, that's what... $1000?

And more likely than not, all the new PCs the corporations buy most likely come with Vista anyways.. but surely their IT dept. will re-image with the corporate install.

M$ thus normally getting the price of Vista twice... once when they bought the PC with the OEM Vista.. then a second license when IT imag'ed the unit with the corporate VL.

Actually, more likely MS is getting recurring profit from the "Software Assurance" subscription payments, whether they release new versions of software or not.

Re:Per-hour usage coming soon! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700193)

Correction: Windows 3.1 is like OS X today: you didn't type any key at all, you just installed from floppies.

Entering a key to install appeared in Windows '95.

Maybe some day MS will go back to a no CD-key required, no "genuineness authentication" product, which is more convenient for IT and corporate installs, but I won't hold my breath.

The "CD KEY" requirement for Home use of Windows is understandable, given the tendency of some small PC retailers/custom PC builders to cheat, copy media, and re-use keys.

Prior Art? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699715)

Every business model in their list has been done by many software companies and the process to obtain the license is standard practice. How can anyone patent something like this?

Big Brother or Al Capone? (1)

petronije (1650685) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699731)

They anounced it months ago. The concept was to charge the user as much as they use their machine resources. On the other hand, who wouldn't like to charge the racket on 90% of this small planet's computers?

anitvirus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699739)

I thought most of non-free antivirus apps out there use a system where you pay for a license for a set period of time?

"The filing acknowledges that some systems already allow software to be licensed for a predetermined period of time ...."
If they acknowledge that this already exists how would they even get a patent on it?

How about this? (1)

klashn (1323433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699741)

How about you sign up for the Open licensing. Buy a ton of computers, donate your old computers at the end of the year (to not increase the number of licenses) and continue on the next year paying the same Open Licensing fee. Do the same thing for year 2 and 3. This will essentially give you a fixed cost for the licenses over the 3 years - and a few tax breaks i guess. Probably not the most efficient use of capital, but a good way to screw M$ if you are forced to pay for the licenses!

Turn it around (1)

randallman (605329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699753)

How about software that drops restrictions after X years. Does anyone know of an existing license that does this? I'm working on software that I want to revert to BSD after a time period.

Is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699795)

Can you really patent a contract?

Common sense patent? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699811)

Licensing is something somewhat old. Extending it to "only valid for certain amount of time" (total or of active use) looks like a common sense (maybe greedy, but hey, is Microsoft after all) extension.

The good thing is that by patenting prevents or at least discourages other companies about doing the same.

Re:Common sense patent? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700115)

I already implemented this for my wife's company, almost exactly as the patent describes.

Isn't trialware licensing time-based? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699825)

Just about every shareware application has either a nag-screen or a 30 day countdown....

You get licensed to try the software for 30 days.

There are old DOS programs that were like this.

There were Windows 3.1 applications that were licensed like this.

There is absolutely nothing novel about time-based licensing.

Re:Isn't trialware licensing time-based? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700111)

None of those licenses are even close to what they are patenting. Read the freaking article or the patent or at least the full description.

Re:Isn't trialware licensing time-based? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700429)

Apparently you didn't bother to actually read it.

It says very clearly: The licensing business models may include, but not be limited to, a non-renewable evaluation license, a renewable trial license, a one-time promotion license, and a subscription license. In some embodiments, a configurable parameter may indicate an amount of time for a grace period after a time-based license would have normally expired.

Of course all this has been done before.

e.g. Antivirus products are commonly sold with annual renewal, or renewal every X months.

Which is distinct from annual maintenance.

Heck.. clarified [clarifiednetworks.com] gets sold as a cookie jar. Where, e.g. you buy a "10 cookie bundle"

One cookie gives a single user access to activate and use the program for 24 hours.

Drop Dead Dates (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700237)

I remember those. This is like drop-dead dates raised to the nth power. Paying off once won't get it, you just trade an early drop-dead date for a later drop-dead date- over, and over, and over. until they decide you must upgrade. Sounds really, really swell. Have fun, Microsoft lovers! ;-) Glad I use Linux & BSD. What's next for MS, patenting "The GUI" and the CLI?

Prior Art (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699853)

vBulletin's yearly licenses.

One patent I will never violate (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699887)

With pride, I can say that I will not be violating this patent.

OMG, Microsoft's trying to make money...Boohoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29699899)

/. lame asses always say the same thing..."OMG, Microsoft's trying to make money...I hate them" and whine in the corner. As Dr. Evil say, "Boo-freakadie-hoo!" OSS sucks! The "sunlight" dwellers don't want it! Have a pity party why don't you....oh, wait, that's what /. is for....lame.

monthly train pass - time based, single seat rtu. (1)

emptybody (12341) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699927)

this is obvious and not patentable.

last time i took the train I paid a single ride fare. -- single use license.
back in college I would buy the monthly pass. -- unlimited, time based right to use license.

Oh Noes! (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699971)

Oh, my god, we're in deep trouble if they patent time based software licensing! Imagine a world where nobody else has the right to sell limited time licenses - just MS! Death to us all I say!

Freedom to Contract is a Big Deal! (2, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700089)

A license is a contract. A contract is an exchange of enforceable promises. Patenting a contractual idea would deprive other people of the freedom to contract in a certain manner (because Microsoft has patented it). Freedom to contract is an idea that a lot of judges groove with--it has a lot to do with liberty, freedom, and other cool ideas like that.

I don't think that Microsoft will be able to tell other people how they can and cannot order their affairs.

Re:Freedom to Contract is a Big Deal! (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700159)

A license is a contract. A contract is an exchange of enforceable promises. Patenting a contractual idea would deprive other people of the freedom to contract in a certain manner (because Microsoft has patented it). Freedom to contract is an idea that a lot of judges groove with--it has a lot to do with liberty, freedom, and other cool ideas like that.

The argument doesn't work, though, because they're not patenting a type of contract, but a method of producing product keys as an antipiracy measure in conjunction with such a contract.

Obviously this is nothing new, and MS's patent application iw way too general and thus falls down on a huge quantity of prior art. I imagine some of the more specific claims may survive (e.g. one of their claims is for a 'valid from' field to allow postdated licenses, which may be new).

Microsoft: It's not just your hand in your pocket (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700093)

This is Microsoft's wet dream. Every time someone uses their software, kaching! they get money. It would be an absolutely perfect business model if there was even one person in the world stupid enough to buy into it. Every time Microsoft introduces a new and more onerous 'innovation' it just sends more people looking for a way out. *Hint* just use Open Office for free!

I really should... (3, Interesting)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700099)

I implemented this system in it's entirety with another engineer back about 6 years ago. Complete with the license server and the multiple parameters of the license. Is there a way to protest this being patented? It's still in daily use for my wife's company. They even get updates based on whether they have paid the license fee for the month.

Re:I really should... (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700219)

I implemented this system in it's entirety with another engineer back about 6 years ago. Complete with the license server and the multiple parameters of the license. Is there a way to protest this being patented? It's still in daily use for my wife's company.

Yes. It's still in the application phase, so you can make a representation to the patent office as to why you believe it shouldn't be granted. You need some legal advice on how best to provide such a representation. There are several people who may be able to give you such advice; it may be worth contacting either the EFF or the Public Patent Foundation, both of whom have a lot of experience in this field.

Re:I really should... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701965)

Why are you thinking this hard about trying to stop MS from sinking their own ship? Let them sink. Let them slowly ramp up fees which will cause customers to slowly bleed away, leaving MS to slowly die. They used to be the WalMart of software. Now they are morphing toward the Computer Associates model.

Re:I really should... (2, Interesting)

mmandt (1441661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700721)

I implemented a time-based licensing scheme in 2002. Which is very much the same as the product microsoft launched to do this. I thought of patenting it, but didn't. I would like to object as well. We still use it...

Ahhh, fond memories.... (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700149)

Remember way back in 2008...you know, VMware ESX 3.5 update 2. I love the smell of a software time-bomb in the morning.

This is a good thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29700563)

Once MSFT has the patent, no one else will try to sell a BS time based license. Win win for all!

Patent Troll (1)

learningtree (1117339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700577)

Apparently this appears is nothing but a patent troll from Micro$oft.
EDA tool industry has long been using the time-based licensing model for their tools, particularly using the FlexLM based licensing system.
How can they even think to patent this sort of thing ?

Hello disgruntled microsoft customers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29700841)

Hello disgruntled microsoft customers! How are we feeling today? Are we ready to pay Bill every month for the wonderful software he provides? He wants to be paid forever for it you know! This is Linux calling. You may have been unhappy with us before (sight unseen), but how do you feel about us, in comparison to the situation approaching you? Are you happy? Were you happy with license 6? Do you have a whole bunch of checks printed out and ready to send in (for the use of your computer)? Are you all set up and ready to type in license keys on a monthly basis? Is it a dollar per day? Is it more? Just sayin'

Whoa. (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#29700853)

STAND BACK!

I'm going to attempt time travel.

I WOULD ask how they plan to force this, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701585)

How are they going to convince Tom and Jane that their older version of the software must be "upgraded" to the subscription model? I'd like to think that Average Joe is smarter than to fall for something like that.

We all know that since MS controls the OEM market, they can do whatever they damn well please and consumers will take it... because 90% of the users have no choice.

They might patent it, but they won't use it (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29701591)

Considering their software is installed, by default, on a significant percentage of new computers sold every day, after whatever time the license lasts elapses, the volume of complaints that people's computers no longer work correctly would skyrocket beyond any numbers that we've seen previously.

Re:They might patent it, but they won't use it (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702023)

They could use it for business licenses of Windows. Or they could use it for any of their other software that doesn't come preinstalled with computers and isn't used by most home users.

No matter what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701817)

No matter what MS does, the little people of the world will continue to get our stuff from Russians figuring out how to ultimately make it all work, and the Chinese who package it all unreadable in cheap cellophane wrappers - for just 50 US cents a DVD. There is no stopping that biz model found around the globe today. If MS figures rolls out a way to stop the hackers, then the hackers will use the botnet to end microsoft in this mutual assured destruction scenario.

Re (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29701953)

Microsoft does more for killing Microsoft then any of Microsoft haters.

Go ahead M$, push me towards open-source (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702025)

If you put an expiration date on my operating system, then I'd be dumping it all and moving to linux in short order. It's bad enough that the hardware goes obsolete in a few years and/or breaks!

Forced Obsoletion (1)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29702387)

Smells like they didn't like the rate of Vista adoption. Don't want to buy the new OS? No worries, we'll simply stop renewing the license of the old one.

MS-Windows Doesn't Keep Accurate Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29702681)

How can they possibly based licensing on time when MS-Windows doesn't keep accurate time? I'm serious. Every 24 hours, I have to manually sync my Windows desktops/servers which have drifted over 1.5 minutes off.

Microsoft - NTP - know it, use it, love it. This is 2009 after all.

Geeze.

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