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Microsoft Patents OS Shutdown

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the just-press-the-big-button dept.

Microsoft 404

An anonymous reader writes "You would think that shutting down software could be fairly simple from an end user's view. If I ask you to shut it down, would you mind shutting it actually down, please? Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, because you need to ask the user if they really want to shut down and if unsaved documents should be saved. And that warrants a patent that also covers Mac OS X. Next time you shut down Windows, remember how complicated it is for Windows to shut down. Perhaps that is the reason why this procedure can take minutes in some cases."

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I don't understand (3, Interesting)

KillaGouge (973562) | about 4 years ago | (#33436866)

They only cite documents going back to 1998. There has to be prior examples of this happening is there? Also, software pattents are getting ridiculous now a days. What is next, are they going to patent moving a cursor on-screen to select the option to shutdown?

Re:I don't understand (-1, Redundant)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33436982)

What is next, are they going to patent moving a cursor on-screen to select the option to shutdown?

Here's to hoping they don't try to patent the process of submitting a patent!

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437424)

The In Soviet Russia meme called, they said it's time for the 'patent patenting' joke to die

Re:I don't understand (2, Funny)

gorzek (647352) | about 4 years ago | (#33437494)

In Soviet Russia, "patent patenting" joke kills YOU!

Re:I don't understand (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437076)

That's because the slashdot summary and the article are sensationalized. They aren't patenting "shutting down." It actually is a pretty complicated process which took time and money to research and develop. I don't know if it's worth a patent, but it isn't as outrageous as other patents that have been issued.

It takes time and money to code anything. (2, Insightful)

Richard Steiner (1585) | about 4 years ago | (#33437316)

Even a new version of "Hello World."

That, by itself, doesn't make the effort patentable. It also has to be non-obvious to other practitioners of the art, namely other programmers in the operating systems domain.

Re:It takes time and money to code anything. (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 4 years ago | (#33437496)

Well if one was to look into the gun patents of the 1800s you would see something like that. There are many patents (and patent applications) on file for minor changes to hand guns and rifles. They seem minor today but back then it was seen differently. Patents were explicit. Not vague. Hence why the large number of gun patents.

With computer and software patents I personally think the par needs to be raised as to what can be patentable. Developing a new CPU socket to allows for 1/10000 the amount of power without losing any performance, on the right track to a patent. Writing a brand new application that is the first to do a task, maybe. A patent for saving work before shutting down? No. I get prompted before I close the app now. A patent for a touch screen? Should have been tossed out prior art already. Touch screen are not new. They have been out for what 10+ years already.

The patent system needs to be overhauled. It was originally designed to allow a small inventor to not taken over or forced out of the market by a big company. Today, the big companies have so many patents that it is extremely hard for a new person or company to get going. Their product is bound to already be in some other companies patent war chest. These vaguely written patents should never have been allowed.

Only 1998? (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33437078)

I guess I should patent MY shutdown technique - goes back way before then. Make sure nothing important is going on (like a write operation), and just cut the power.

It still works great on modern OSes with a journaling file system - and the best part is that your whole desktop, including open apps and files, is restored next time you log in, and you only lose 2-5 seconds on reboot (which is less than the time you lose doing a clean shutdown), and you don't have to answer 3-4 dialogs asking if you want to save your session, etc.

Do that every time, and over the course of the year, you've saved 30 seconds x 250 days, oe 125 minutes - that's 2 HOURS of electricity. Be green - pull the plug :-)

Seriously, most of the time I shut down properly, but if I hear thunder close by, I just cut the power unless it's a laptop. Lightning doesn't have to be close enough to hear to induce surges in power lines, so I figure if I can hear it, it's already too close. I haven't lost any data doing this, but I *have* had to replace one cpu because of a power surge (and that was in the bad old days when you had to hand-solder them to the board).

Pull the plug. A *real* OS can handle it.

Re:Only 1998? (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33437240)

but if I hear thunder close by, I just cut the power unless it's a laptop. Lightning doesn't have to be close enough to hear to induce surges in power lines, so I figure if I can hear it, it's already too close

^^^this. We have four surge protectors in our "fun space"...two for computers, two for our entertainment center (tv, consoles, etc). All four of them are plugged into wall sockets that are quickly and easily accessable for this very purpose (we get some pretty intense lightning here in Maryland during the Spring and Summer months.) We actually organized the layout of our "fun space" with this specifically in mind.

Re:Only 1998? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437262)

What the hell are you talking about, open apps and files restored after just cutting the power. What happened to the contents of the RAM?

Re:Only 1998? (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33437392)

RAM gnomes? []

Shutdown patents (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33436880)

When can I, um, patent shutting down the USPTO?

Re:Shutdown patents (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437096)

When can I, um, patent shutting down the USPTO?

No, no, you have it wrong. Please patent keeping the Patent Authorities operational and then refuse to licencense that to anybody.

Re:Shutdown patents (2, Funny)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 years ago | (#33437446)

I always kind of wondered where Dr. Bunsen and Beaker [] went to work after the Muffet Show was canceled, not any longer...

A BSOD Shutdown Too? (4, Funny)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 4 years ago | (#33436882)

One has to wonder if they are also trying to patent the inadvertent "BSOD" shutdowns. They seem much more complex. ;-)

It is now safe to turn off your computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33436884)

So, you first have to shut down, and then turn the computer off

Next thing... (2, Insightful)

ZeRu (1486391) | about 4 years ago | (#33436888)

I can see someone patenting "Are you sure?" prompt.
Actually, when I think of it, alot of dumber patents have been accepted.

Re:Next thing... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33436970)

It's a lot, not alot, dumbass.

Re:Next thing... (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 4 years ago | (#33437018)

I'm patenting grammar Nazism so that I get a fee everytime someone acts like one.

Re:Next thing... (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 4 years ago | (#33437242)

I am going to patent sucking at grammar. I will make a lot more money than you.

Re:Next thing... (1)

hierofalcon (1233282) | about 4 years ago | (#33437050)

If you search the USPTO, you'll probably find somebody patented 'a lot'.

Re:Next thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437212)

Relax []

Hmm (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | about 4 years ago | (#33436894)

Are they going to patent the process by which you tell Windows to shut down, and it freezes?

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 4 years ago | (#33436924)

Or the process where you get halfway through the shutdown, and then it stops for no apparent reason and you have to go and order the shutdown again to get it to finish shutting down.

Re:Hmm (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33437116)

What about the process of getting far enough into the process that you can't do anything, then failing to actually complete the task at hand. Forcing you to then manually turn it off and fix the resulting damage to the filesystem.

Re:Hmm (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | about 4 years ago | (#33437148)

That's a new form of "are you sure?". We've developed this to make sure the user really means to shut down by making them request it multiple times.

(patent pending)

Re:Hmm (2, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 4 years ago | (#33437210)

IIRC "No apparent reason" usually means "an application aborted the shutdown". It's a legitimate feature but apps can of course do it silently (AFAIK it's designed to happen if the user had unsaved work and they click "Cancel" in response to a Save/Don't Save/Cancel dialog.

Re:Hmm (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | about 4 years ago | (#33437354)

This happens because an application aborts the shutdown. The normal use would be, an user has an open document, the application prompts them to save, don't save and exit, or cancel. If the user clicks cancel, the shutdown needs to be aborted so they can do whatever they needed to do that made them click cancel. Because MS has no means of telling what mechanism an application will use to present this kind of choice (or if it needs to at all), any application can do it at will. Some applications abuse this, and do it without giving any clear indication why. I think an event may be logged saying what application stopped it, but it might require you to turn the logging up to see it normally.

If you really, really want to shut down, without any pesky apps stopping you, make a batch file with the following command "shutdown -s -f -t 0". This will do a forced shutdown that won't stop for anything. Just don't blame anyone but yourself when the you lose that document you forgot to save before shutting down.

Re:Hmm (1)

jandrese (485) | about 4 years ago | (#33437448)

It's yet another case of Windows taking a "don't tell the user anything, it might scare them" approach. I would be totally ok if a dialog popped up saying "Application so and so aborted the shutdown.", instead of me having to repeatedly hit shutdown until whatever it is stops doing that.

Re:Hmm (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33437498)

Are they going to patent the process by which you tell Windows to shut down, and it freezes?

There's too much prior art going all the way back to Windows 1.0.

Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33436916)

So will they patent asking for password when an administrative change is to be made or will they steal that from *nix too?

Re:Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437206)

There's already a patent on what originally looked like a graphical sudo (it was on slashdot, even, but I'm not going to try and use slashdots shitty search for it). What made the patent special was that unlike *nix su[do], it asks for permission after you're already in the tool, rather than you having to elevate permissions first, then run the tool (which makes it different from windows's Run As... as well)

IIRC that patent was by Apple, for OSX's method of handling permission elevation mid-process rather than requiring the entire process to be run at the elevated permission level. So any user can go in and run the control panel, but they're not elevated until they make a change, at which point they're prompted for the admin password.

Re:Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437234)

Since the diagram references GUI elements and *nix doesn't really have those without additional software, I don't see how they stole this process from *nix. Also remember that we are talking about the 90s. Do you remember *nix back then?

Re:Theft? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 years ago | (#33437454)

The current X windowing protocol, version 11, was created in 1987. X itself was first created before I was born. I think Unix is pretty old.

Faster Shutdown (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 4 years ago | (#33436918)

A standard Windows crash is much quicker.

Re:Faster Shutdown (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | about 4 years ago | (#33437060)

That's Microsoft's version of a shutdown, right?

I'm going to go out today and patent clicking a mouse.

seriously, though... (1)

dmarti (6587) | about 4 years ago | (#33437466)

You need to be able to recover from a crash anyway, so why write both: infrequently used but critical crash recovery and frequently used, but not always run clean shutdown? Just crash. Crash-only software: More than meets the eye []

shutdown -h now (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 4 years ago | (#33436926)

Slashdot user shutdown -h now [] , i've got some bad news for you.

Re:shutdown -h now (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33437190)

It's an archaic thing to do, in the modern era of ACPI most of us just go shutdown -p now, or perhaps halt -p, which saves the trouble of having to press the power button.

Why can't I mod the story submission itself? (0, Redundant)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 4 years ago | (#33436942)

I would use all 5 points. +5 Funny or is that Insightful. Oh, what, make that redundant.

Next up, there will be a patent on evacuating ones bowels.

Re:Why can't I mod the story submission itself? (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33437006)

Shutting down Windows, evacuating ones bowels.

Potayto potahto.

So you are telling me, the windows shutdown (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 4 years ago | (#33436956)

Is all the fault of lawyers? Now it all makes sense.

shoot the lawyers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437294)

Is all the fault of lawyers?

99.9% of lawyers gave all of them a bad name.

The patent (4, Informative)

Infonaut (96956) | about 4 years ago | (#33436962)

Here's the USPTO link [] . The abstract:

A user interface and scheme is provided for facilitating shutting down an operating system. Aspects include the operating system receiving a command to initiate shut down, and automatically terminating graphical user interface (GUI) applications that delay shut down which do not have top level windows. Also, aspects provide a user, through a graphical user interface, the ability to automatically terminate all running applications in response to determining that a running GUI application has a top level window.

Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (1, Flamebait)

sottitron (923868) | about 4 years ago | (#33436964)

What is ironic is that Microsoft patents this, but my Mac running OS X 10.6 shuts down and off in literally 2 or 3 seconds, whereas Windows 7 on the same machine (and without virtualization) takes 15-20 seconds to shut down and off.

Re:Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 4 years ago | (#33437034)

Clearly, one of the two of us doesn't understand irony, because I can't find anything ironic about that. This has nothing to do with speed.

Re:Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (2, Informative)

cupantae (1304123) | about 4 years ago | (#33437088)

Oh fuck it. That was a troll by my roommate on my computer while I was AFK. Goodbye, karma :-(

Re:Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33437226)

The irony is that MS is patenting something for which they know very little, when patents are intended to spur innovation.

Re:Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (5, Funny)

MrHanky (141717) | about 4 years ago | (#33437070)

Yes, but an Apple fanboy takes a lot longer to shut up.

Re:Yet OSX shuts down much faster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437486)

no shit, what do you run on OSX, a browser and Itunes?

Prior art (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 4 years ago | (#33436968)

It's called pulling the plug.

Seriously though, wouldn't virtually any version of unix or other multi-user OS prior to MS releasing Windows 3.x qualify as prior art?

Re:Prior art (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33437268)

Actually, the traditional *nix shutdown sends SIGTERM to all running processes, waits a bit, then sends SIGKILL to the stragglers. Windows *asks* the user if it should kill the slow to shut down processes.

Re:Prior art (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33437310)

Linux has had that for as long as I can remember, which is at least 8 years. And I believe that FreeBSD has had that via at least KDE and Gnome for quite a while as well, although I can't recall as I haven't used that function. But I think the salient point is that this shouldn't be eligible for a patent as providing the functionality for a GUI system to be shut down in this fashion is completely common sense. You don't want to shutdown a system while applications are writing to disk, and you want the user to be able to initiate it.

That's all well and good... (1)

kabloom (755503) | about 4 years ago | (#33436976)

That's all well and good, but having a software option to shut down the computer was a Macintosh thing (introduced in Finder 4.x in 1985) about 10 years before it became a Windows thing. One need not worry about this patent.

Remember this? (2)

jappleng (1805148) | about 4 years ago | (#33436978)

It is now safe to turn off your computer.

Re:Remember this? (2, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 years ago | (#33437094)

that's been my sigfile for at least 10 years now (on slash), unchanged. I guess today's my day, huh?

(left it intact for this post, as well)

Interesting. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 years ago | (#33437014)

So, in effect, they are patenting the ability to NOT use something. I typically just flip the switch to 'off', or leave it running and turn off my monitor. What's next, patenting user logon?

Gnome? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437016)

Hasn't pretty much every Gnome/GTK app been able to to this for years when you use Metacity?

Re:Gnome? (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 4 years ago | (#33437260)

GNOME: Official release: 3 March 1999

As the first poster in this thread notes, "They only cite documents going back to 1998."

Not saying that it should be a valid patent, just that GNOME doesn't qualify as prior art.

Windows instant off. (1)

noitalever (150546) | about 4 years ago | (#33437042)

How about those instant "clicks" where windows just turns off. Those never even show up in event logs. Can somebody write a widget for that?

you sound bitter (0, Troll)

js3 (319268) | about 4 years ago | (#33437048)

There are lots of ridicilous patents. What are you so mad about?

Re:you sound bitter (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437132)

There are lots of ridicilous patents

I can without hesutation say that there are no ridicilous patents.

Re:you sound bitter (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#33437232)

Not mad really, I just I wish I had the nerve, and lawyers, to patent something so totally ridiculous. One could get the same output if you put 1000 monkeys into a room with some Win dev machines; 1000 monkeys all throwing chairs and their feces onto the keyboards will eventually come up with a patent to shut down a system. Good work!

I would probably rather wish to be a televangelist; lots of money and no sense of playing fair or trying to using your own ideas, or using real skills, to make you money. Yeah, that's the life for me; fucking over people, taking their money, and having no remorse. Good work! Be proud, you assholes!

Re:you sound bitter (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33437328)

Probably the fact that it doesn't seem to be getting any better. It's a waste of resources for pretty much everybody involved and it makes software more expensive/less available for everybody as a result.

People still click "Shutdown" ? (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 4 years ago | (#33437074)

Hard shutdowns = win. Who wants to walk away with the knowledge that some notepad used as a clipboard augmentation prevents the shutdown for 8+ hours because Microsoft's code is retarded. Let them patent a broken shutdown system -- in reality it's not that hard to do. Just make a signal for indicating to a program the OS wants to shutdo... oh wait.. nvm.

More Information and Clarification (5, Informative)

Grond (15515) | about 4 years ago | (#33437120)

I can't figure out which patent or application the article is referring to. This patent [] issued to Microsoft last year and covers OS shutdown methods, so I think it's the right one. The first claim is this:

One or more computer readable storage media storing computer-executable instructions which, when executed on a computer system, perform a method comprising:
        receiving information from an application regarding a task that the application is configured to perform;
        receiving a command to initiate operating system shut down while the application is running;
        determining that the operating system shut down should be delayed due to a status of the application; and
        displaying the information received from the application on a graphical user interface during a period in which the operating system shut down is being delayed, the graphical user interface showing that the application is running.

Basically it covers delaying shutdown while an application wraps something up and informing the user that this is happening via a GUI. The more detailed claims cover the circumstances under which this might occur (e.g., a negative response from the application, no response from the application, etc).

This patent does not cover what Windows XP or OS X do in this circumstance. In fact, the behaviors of XP and OS X are explicitly mentioned in the specification, and the patent is meant to cover an improved method for handling the situation.

Re:More Information and Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437318)

All your shutdowns are belong to us.

Re:More Information and Clarification (2, Informative)

oji-sama (1151023) | about 4 years ago | (#33437338)

That sounds like the overlay Windows 7 displays when things get delayed. It would be an improvement from the old system, but since you can't actually access the prompts (for example from Firefox), it is really annoying. Hereby I release for free: You should be able to give the focus to the software with a prompt by clicking its name.

(No, I don't really think I'm first to have thought of it.)

Re:More Information and Clarification (3, Informative)

CXI (46706) | about 4 years ago | (#33437352)

The patent snippet you provide describes exactly the way that Windows 7 shutdown operates. You get a GUI listing all the programs currently still busy that are blocking shutdown with the option to force the shutdown anyway. Usually if you just wait things will finish their process and the shutdown proceeds. It's actually very poorly done as the pop-up of this window implies that something isn't working correctly. "These programs are preventing shutdown" makes them sound like they are hung. The wording and design could certainly have been improved to point out that things were *still in the process of closing* and not stuck.

Also while I don't think it should be patented (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#33437428)

What is with all the smarminess about shutting down being easy? Says who? Sure, you could just halt everything, simply send a command to the board to cut power. That would be simple and quick. It also would be a good way to lose data or have problems. To gracefully shut things down as quickly as possible is more complex. You want a way to signal all apps to quit quickly and get them the CPU time they need to do so, but not stall out the system. You also probably want a way to back off for a bit if an app needs more time, but not for too long. You need to check and make sure everything is consistent, etc, etc.

I'm not saying this is some Herculean feat but acting like shutting down quickly and orderly is trivial is silly.

Do They Get the Hint, Yet? (2)

Mystiq (101361) | about 4 years ago | (#33437134)

I'm starting to think some of the ridiculous patents and patent trolls lately are trying to push the buttons of copyright law in the US just enough so that someone in the government gets a hint and enacts some kind of reform, or better yet, gets rid of software patents. Patenting OS shutdown, I would like to see some of the patents that get shot down in the IT industry. Someone should patent a whole bunch of useless stuff but just not sue. Get the patents just to see what kind of stuff they let through, and then point at them for the kind of ridiculousness they're allowing.

I know *that* is a bunch of crap too and it's probably just an arms race of stupid patents before the other guy gets it and sues you.

Re:Do They Get the Hint, Yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437468)

Every time you see a "<company> patents <thing>" story on slashdot, it's blatantly and heinously wrong. Every time. I've yet to see one even close to correct. In fact, if software patents are legitimate, then these things always seem to sound like legitimate patents.

Even the diagram in TFA shows that, although one should not just glance at a diagram and draw conclusions about the patent.

In this case, it's a patent on a particular way of delaying shutdown so that slow applications can close gracefully.

That doesn't mean software patents are good or noble or right, but it's ridiculous to summarize like this. It's like saying Microsoft patented the computer or Microsoft patented operating systems, since mention of both have to be made in the patent.

A faster shutdown procedure (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33437156)

Instead of 'asking if they really want to do it' make it harder to do accidentally in the first place.

For example, require them to specifically select it, and check a box in the same dialog to confirm it.

Instead of every program getting to ask the user if they really want to exit... demand every program save a 'crash copy' of every open file in a special temporary directory, and exit with no user interaction.

Instead of giving every program an opportunity to cancel a shutdown, send a WM_YOUARESHUTTINGDOWNIN5SECONDS

They have two options... either save everything they need to save in 5 seconds, or have the OS "hibernate" them by dumping their user memory area to crashfile, so they can be re-launched at boot

And no program or system driver has the ability to cancel or delay shutdown for any reason.

They only have the ability to advertise ahead of time that they're doing something critical and don't want to be shutdown. The 'advertisements' appear in the dialog when the user clicks 'shutdown'.

If the user is running a defrag, special programs running as administrator might have the ability to gray out the shutdown 'Ok' box, or rather cause windows to prompt the user "XXX program is executing a critical task", requiring the user to 'OK' a manual override --- in this case, the software tells the system in advance that shutdown should not be done right now, but letting software delay the decision to block shutdown until a shutdown's actually attempted, is braindead.

A shutdown should be either "OK" or not. The system should now at all times when a shutdown would not be OK, so it can be performed immediately, and software running on a machine should not be allowed to change its mind and block a shutdown once it has been initiated.

After shutdown's started, some "Begin Critical Task" API should be disabled/blocked.

fatimid08 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437162)

The patent isn't about the actual shutdown operation, it's about the process introduced in XP in which Windows determines if an application is hung, as well as the display of the dialog box with the End Now button. So if you press shutdown and iTunes isn't responding, it allows you to actually shut down rather than waiting indefinitely. The patent mentions OS X and Linux because, well, they have a shutdown operation, but it won't cover them if they don't implement something similar to an "End Now" dialog box (I don't know if they do or don't though).

What is claimed (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 years ago | (#33437168)

Of course, the only things that matter are the claims. It appears their 'innovation' is to kill hung, minimized apps (or maybe every app that doesn't have the focus) without asking the user if they want to kill those apps:

Claim 1: A computer readable storage medium storing computer-executable instructions for performing a method for shutting down an operating system, the method comprising the steps of: receiving a command to initiate operating system shut down; sending a shut down request to a graphical user interface application without a top level window; receiving no response to the shut down request with a predetermined period of time; determining that the graphical user interface application without the top level window is not hung; automatically terminating the graphical user interface application without the top level window; determining whether any graphical user interface applications with a top level window delay shut down; prompting a user for a user command to selectively shut down the graphical user interface applications with the top level window that delay shut down after determining that the graphical user interface applications with the top level window delay shut down; and then after the determining step, automatically terminating all running applications responsive to the user command received from the user that has been prompted.

It's obviously not very innovative, but it's also probably patentable under US patent law. I don't personally know of any prior art, and in fact I think I wouldn't want my OS to shut down like that.

Re:What is claimed (1)

Tx (96709) | about 4 years ago | (#33437386)

I thought there was a requirement for something to be non-obvious for it to be patentable; I really don't see anything that isn't obvious in that application. But I'm fairly clueless about US patent law, so I'm probably wrong.

This is excellent news! (1)

czmax (939486) | about 4 years ago | (#33437176)

Because the proposed shutdown process is so blatantly wrong that any inhibition that blocks misguided developers from copying it is a good thing.

What should happen is that the apps all shut down and go away without any IF/AND/ORs/BUTs about it. If they need to save some state or or whatever then they should get a chance to do so. They should NOT EVER get to communicate with the user or otherwise delay the shutdown process. The OS layer should chose, prior to sending the message, if there is any opportunity for GUI interactions (and should not normally do so).

In an ideal world this would force application developers to maintain proper state and properly deal with auto-save and other features to make the user's life easier. The current model, as detailed in this patent, just pushes the problem off to the end user (which is wrong).

unsaved documents (2, Insightful)

Fanro (130986) | about 4 years ago | (#33437186)

"because you need to ask the user if they really want to shut down and if unsaved documents should be saved"

This is one of the most annoying things about computers. If I want to shut it down, shut it down!
It is to late for questions, I probably already left after I issued the shutdown command.

Any question about unsaved documents can be asked the next time I start the program, just save them in a temporary location in the meantime.

Standby and hibernate have somewhat mitigated this problem, but for multi-user systems there is still no practical solution.

shutdown ? (1)

weeb0 (741451) | about 4 years ago | (#33437200)

When I use windows and I ask it to shutdown, he doesn't always do so... is this covered in the patent?

BillG hated the concept! (3, Interesting)

derinax (93566) | about 4 years ago | (#33437204)

I worked at Microsoft for the Windows 95 launch, where I provided Tier-1 support for BOOP (Bill and the Office of the President, i.e. CEO tradeshow tech support). I do recall that Bill specifically called out the 'shutdown' function on Windows 95 as an error. He didn't like it, he hated the idea of waiting for the OS to shutdown, and wanted simply to be able to push the power button to immediately turn the system off, like a DOS PC.

He may or may not have understood the concept of in-memory caches and unsaved user work, but it didn't much matter to him.

Apple is the new Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437220)

Apple has just as many or more stupid patents out there. Just a lot of Microsoft haters on this site.

wait... (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | about 4 years ago | (#33437256)

...I thought the BSOD [] was already patented---it's a feature, not a bug, right??? :-)

Re:wait... (1)

weicco (645927) | about 4 years ago | (#33437364)

But it doesn't shut down the computer. And if you happen to have SoftIce kernel debugger you can get other colors than blue on your monitor in some special cases :)

Re:wait... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 4 years ago | (#33437382)

"Prior Art"?
"Guru Meditation"?

Reply (1)

smithjackson (1891556) | about 4 years ago | (#33437322)

This is not a very powerful Idea but still very confusing incident in software processing proocess. Cheap Cars []

Really? (0, Redundant)

lennier1 (264730) | about 4 years ago | (#33437340)

They should patent illogical naming of processes.

Come on, you need to click "START" in order to STOP something???

Patent invalid? (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 4 years ago | (#33437350)

Not tied to a specific machine and therefore fails test In Re Bilski?

Oh noes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437378)

The inventors are listed as David Switzer, Huat Chye Lim, Lisa A. Osse, William Mak and HyunSuk Kim. Guys, what were you thinking? Isn't this a bit embarrassing? And did it really take all of you? Or is this kind of defense in numbers?

The real reason (1)

SneakyMishkin (1298729) | about 4 years ago | (#33437390)

I know it is a slashdot pass time to make fun of strange patents like this but it is worth noting that there are government incentives (beyond the patent itself) to do something like this. In Canada, at least, there are programs like SR & ED []

Applying for these tax incentives can often lead to outrageous descriptions of basic things. Each employee is asked to say what they worked on this year and to fill in a lengthy form describing what is new about it. A programmer that designs an options menu might actually be working on "A graphical interface that allows a user to list, navigate and manipulate system configuration parameters." I think the idea is that if you make the description dense enough the bureaucrat reading it will just approve it without thinking about it too much.

Always be saving. Dont ask. (2, Interesting)

borgboy (218060) | about 4 years ago | (#33437396)

Asking about saving is the wrong question. Saving shouldn't be a question. A document's current state should be persisted at the drop of a hat and that means undo info as well.

A small faction at MS gets this.

Android, as a platform and as recommended dev practice, gets this. Many great IPhone apps get this.

An app should expect to be terminated rudely and abruptly at any time. You'll impress the hell out of your users if you follow this rule.

The letter 'M' (1)

srobert (4099) | about 4 years ago | (#33437418)

I'M taking out a patent on the letter 'M'. I can see quite a few people here are going to owe Me Money.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437420)

I just like holding in the power button. Instant shutdown. It never fails. I think I will patent that.

Anybody had a look at the patent? (1)

gmueckl (950314) | about 4 years ago | (#33437426)

As far as I can see, the patent is not about the OS shutdown in general, but the very specific way in which it is done in Vista and Win 7. Particularly, this involves the full-screen notification that some applications are preventing the system from shutting down that you eventually get after clicking the shutdown button, and the surrounding OS behaviour towards such applications (recognizing which running programs warrant putting up the prompt, signaling/terminating them...). This is not the traditional Unix shutdown stuff in any way, so unless you give the user the choice on shutdown to kill processes that don't want to quit by themselves yet, you should be rather safe. Still, this is yet another software patent :-(.

Personally, I find this full screen thing rather annoying anyway, mainly because Firefox interacts badly with it, showing its own exit prompt on shutdown and being overlaid with the that fullscreen prompt, preventing me from clicking the save and exit option in Firefox.

Prior Art! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33437436)

In 1983, I set up a relay to one of the out ports on my TRS-80 Model I to shut the computer down when I wrote a value to the port.

My wife's computer shuts down in about 6 seconds. (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | about 4 years ago | (#33437452)

IDK what the summary was complaining about,
Windows 7, 32 bit on an old athalon x2 2800.
seriously 6 seconds.

OOPS.... (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | about 4 years ago | (#33437490)

I forgot to mention she has everything on an x-25m.

That might have something to do with it.
I tell her "she has the faster" computer but mine has WAY more horsepower.
Since 99.9 % of her utilization is zunepass, outlook, and IE. I really can't fault microsoft. She for some reason really likes them.

Worthless without the OS startup patent! (1)

FridayBob (619244) | about 4 years ago | (#33437482)

Everybody knows that before you can shutdown the OS, you first have to start it up! But, as it turns out, that's a mighty complicated process. You first have to ask yourself things like:
  • Do I have an OS to begin with?
  • Do I have a computer to run it on?
  • Do I have an electrical socket to plug the computer into?
  • Do I have a keyboard?
  • Do I have a monitor?
  • Do I have a mouse?
  • Do I really want to start up my OS?
  • Does my mother/boss agree that I should be allowed to start up my OS?
  • Do I have access to a qualified help desk service to help me start up my OS?
  • Do I have the necessary license to start up my OS?
  • Do I know how to suck eggs?

Now imagine somebody else asking you these questions... you see how complicated this can become? Luckily, it doesn't have to be that way. All you have to do is license Slashdot's patented OS Startup Procedure and you'll no longer have to lie awake, agonizing about how to deal with all this complexity!

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