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Microsoft Patents 'Phone-Home' Failure Reporting

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the uspto-funding-based-on-number-of-patents-granted dept.

Patents 361

theodp writes "On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded a patent to Microsoft for its Method and system for reporting a program failure, although a much more sophisticated version of this technology has been standard on IBM mainframes for years. Maybe prior art searches will improve once the USPTO moves into the new two million square foot USPTO campus, which includes five interconnected buildings, a twelve-story atrium, a landscaped two-acre park, and a museum."

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So...many...jokes... (1, Funny)

ideatrack (702667) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112416)

When life gives you lemons...

Re:So...many...jokes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112458)

hehehehe, that reminds me of an old joke...
What do michael and Microsoft have in common?
I don't remember but the punchline has something to do with buttsex.

After IBM's done with SCO, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112426)

They'll have to deal with Redmond. The giant will be taken down by court proceedings.

Re:After IBM's done with SCO, (1)

Devil Ducky (48672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112451)

They won't have to wait to deal with Redmond. "The Giant" has so many lawyers it makes Microsoft and SCO look like companies that... don't have many lawyers (ok, not all analagies are clever).

Re:After IBM's done with SCO, (1)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112609)

Technically, it's a similie, not an analogy. (=

I'm sorry, ET... (4, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112427)

I'm sorry, ET; I'm afraid we can't allow you to send that signal... Microsoft, you know...

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112567)

...microsoft talks back to YOU !

I think I get it now... (4, Funny)

Feztaa (633745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112429)

By awarding obvious and unoriginal patents, the USPTO's plan was to amass a ton of money so they can have wasteful, luxurious campuses...

Next we'll be reading about how each patent clerk gets his own stripper and lapdances are mandatory every hour on the hour.

Re:I think I get it now... (2, Interesting)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112467)

You know, I have heard that strippers and lap dances were part of the employee benefits program at a lot of dot coms!

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

Re:I think I get it now... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112479)

mandatory!!! no way!!! seriously!!! I want a job there!!! I have no choicE!!!

Re:I think I get it now... (1, Funny)

CaptainTux (658655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112492)

Next we'll be reading about how each patent clerk gets his own stripper and lapdances are mandatory every hour on the hour.

Next? I thought this had been done when AOL was trying to get a patent for IM...

Re:I think I get it now... (2, Funny)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112512)

strippers and lapdances are punishment, not benefits, so let em have them

Re:I think I get it now... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112569)

You're a gay fucker aren't ya

the US PTO is a profit-center, not a regulator (4, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112519)

[RANT]

Patents are not about who is right, or who is first; patents are about who will sue.

The US PTO is a money-making service for the government, and this fact is why it operates as it does.

There is a misconception that it is the central duty of the PTO to form a blockade against granting patents. The PTO can and will block applications where there's heavy similarity with prior art or existing patents, but that's really just a guideline to using the service, not the core function.

The meager regulatory behavior also weakens further in tough economies, because Big Business believes that having patents, even if they are untenable, will generate revenue; the administrations can open the floodgates at will.

The PTO's purpose is to grant patents for a fee, and it's wholly suited to do so.

The application vetting process of the PTO is a cost center for the operation of the PTO. This is akin to saying that customer service is a cost center for the operation of AT&T. It is required, but they'll cut costs as much as they can get away with.

To fix the patent application vetting process, two things must happen:

  • Congress must stop using the PTO's filing fees as a revenue source for other pet interests instead of the PTO's own budget, and
  • The PTO needs to allow third parties to aid the vetting process by challenging potential patents before they're granted.

As of 15 March 2001, the USPTO has changed their policies to solve that second problem. They can now publish patent applications before the patent itself is awarded to the applicant. Third parties may now submit "helpful" arguments against controversial applications. The USPTO can then weigh obviousness against challenges without incurring the costs of doing all the searching themselves.

Breaking patents by finding simple prior art is not enough for most cases. Patents already granted are almost never cracked, certainly not by someone using an independent third party's prior art. In the famous Heinlein/Waterbed case [vt.edu] , the patent was denied before it was ever granted by the Patent Office. Once a patent has been granted, the Patent Office rarely will get involved in disputes; that is a matter for the courts.

[/RANT]

Re:I think I get it now... (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112566)

"By awarding obvious and unoriginal patents, the USPTO's plan was to amass a ton of money so they can have wasteful, luxurious campuses"

Then perhaps a business model where they get $5 for approving a patent but $500,000 for finding prior art themselves would get them and the development community working together again, with some level of trust?

Re:I think I get it now... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112575)

Lawyers are liars. They circumvent patent law as crackers circumvent security devices.

It's time to get rid of software patents. Why isn't there a US section of FFII [ffii.org] ? In Europe they defeated the patent lawyer lobby groups and reached an amendment to the software patent directive which will reduce patentability to "computer-implemented inventions" only. Hope this will pass the EU minister (judicial!! argh!) council.

We need an international movement against those trivial patents that benefit the lawyer community and patent grabbers (EOLAS ...). World Summit Information Society may be a good platfom to voice our concern.

Method and system for reporting a program failure (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112432)

Method and system for reporting a program failure

They patented the BSOD?

Re:Method and system for reporting a program failu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112461)

At least there is no prior art on that one.

Re:Method and system for reporting a program failu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112476)

At least there is no prior art on that one.

But the Amiga had the "guru meditation"!

Re:Method and system for reporting a program failu (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112484)

Well, not on a blue screen, but "Server Abend" is close enough. Damn, that came from IBM as well.

Whats next? "This page left intentionally blank" in help files?

Re:Method and system for reporting a program failu (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112530)

Whats next? "This page left intentionally blank" in help files?

No, that they copyrighted.

Therefore, according to the DMCA, you should either sit there and wait for the Ashcroft SS to burst through your door, or cut a deal with the BSA in which you agree to pay $50 for every page on which you've ever read those words.

Damn, I quoted you. Forgive me, Ashcroft, for I have sinned ... it has been $150 since my last copyright violation ...

Re:Method and system for reporting a program failu (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112571)

Damn, I quoted you. Forgive me, Ashcroft, for I have sinned ... it has been $150 since my last copyright violation ...

You better patent ("Patent Penance(tm)") that before Bezos gets wind of it.

The world's gone mad (-1, Redundant)

captainclever (568610) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112434)

Software patents are getting more and more ridiculous every day - when will the madness end?

What will it take?

Patenting a method of doing something is fair enough, but patenting blanket ideas like this is crazy.

your sig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112477)

xxx == yyy
is a condition.
you should have typed :
xxx = yyy
BTW: does it run under OSX ?

Re:The world's gone mad (1)

bizcoach (640439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112539)

The world's gone mad

No, it's not like the whole world has gone mad. Not every country has that "software inventions are patentable" bug in their legal systems (at least not yet).

I'd like to have a list of countries which do not have this problem. How would I go about finding / creating such a list? (tried google already, but possibly not with the best combination of serach terms)

not suprising that... (1)

Findel (663041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112435)

..MS would have a Grand "bug bank" with all the program failures they must have to deal with.

Re:not suprising that... (1)

Findel (663041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112453)

i think i might have missed tha point... lol

Museum (2, Funny)

allanj (151784) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112436)

My guess is the museum will hold long gone stuff like "search for previous art".

Re:Museum (1)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112608)

My guess is the museum will hold long gone stuff like "search for previous art".

Actually, it is designed to display the old geezer who performs the search for previous art. After he dies, they plan to stuff him and prop him up in his chair in a realistic pose wearing his green visor and with his quill pen at the ready.

Admittedly, his efficiency will be lower than when he was alive, but only slightly lower.

Here we go again... (4, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112437)

A bit from the abstract: Method and system for reporting program failures. The system extracts information about a failure in a program module, such as the location of the failure, and establishes communication with a repository, such as a server.

Don't you just love how vague this is? It could cover almost anything, including embedded things like elevators, automated ovens and whatnot...

OK, I didn't read the whole thing, but the abstract just goes to show how little is needed these days to patent software. Argh.

Re:Here we go again... (3, Informative)

illuvata (677144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112487)

The abstract is not the real patent. it is only there to make skimming them easier, and judging the value of a patent by its abstract is like only looking at the title of a book before judging it

Re:Here we go again... (2, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112532)

The abstract is not the real patent. it is only there to make skimming them easier, and judging the value of a patent by its abstract is like only looking at the title of a book before judging it.

I'm sure you are right in every respect, but shoudn't the abstract reflect the contents of a patent in a truthful way? If all abstracts are this general how do we differentiate one patent from another in a similar field at all?

Re:Here we go again... (2, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112590)

"If all abstracts are this general how do we differentiate one patent from another in a similar field at all?"

Oh, I don't know. Perhaps you RFTP and not rely on the abstract? If two seem similar you need to do further investigation of the patents themselves, not just stop at the abstract and say "loo, the abstract for patent A says it affects wigets in this manner and the abstract for patent B affects wigets in the same or very similar manner." The patent itself will explain what the difference is and why it's different than what everyone else is doing.

Re:Here we go again... (2, Funny)

mallumax (712655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112488)

The patents are making no sense at all lately. It seems they want to patent everything under the sun. Maybe they will patent the patent system of awarding nonsensical patents!!

Re:Here we go again... (2, Funny)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112498)

Microsoft also will so patent the ability to turn error reporting off. [windows-help.net]

Thus, you'll have to pay to use it... or pay to not.

The good news is that slashdot will soon we patenting the right to slam microsoft. Due to the grant demand... slashdot will be rich beyond its wildest dreams and give free subscriptions to us all.

Davak

Re:Here we go again... (2, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112544)

The good news is that slashdot will soon we patenting the right to slam microsoft.

Won't happen, too much prior art....

Stratus prior art (5, Interesting)

jesup (8690) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112526)

In 1984 our Stratus 200 fault-tolerant 'minicomputer' (68010-based) would let you yank a running CPU, and it would phone home to Stratus, they'd check the system info reported and if needed run remote diagnostics, and the phone would ring and they'd tell you to put the CPU back in (oh, and the system wouldn't even slow down).

Haven't read the patent, but sounds like prior art to me.

Netscape Talk Back? (5, Interesting)

bjb (3050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112439)

Wasn't Netscape's talk back feature available in 1996 when Netscape Communicator 4.0 came out? That was certainly a "phone home problems" system, though you had to enable it first. I haven't seen much difference, from my perspective, between what Windows 2000/XP has and what Talk Back does.

Re:Netscape Talk Back? (5, Informative)

twocents (310492) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112496)

Netscape is mentioned in the text of the patent:


To gather more information about a crash, different approaches have been taken. For example, America Online has the ability to determine the location of a crash of Microsoft's "INTERNET EXPLORER" web browser and report this information to Microsoft. However, other information regarding the state of a user's machine at the time of the crash is not known and it is difficult to distinguish between different crashes. Without this valuable information, not much can be done to determine whether there is a bug and, if so, correct the bug. Other approaches have been taken to tackle the problems of failures. For example, Netscape's "COMMUNICATOR" web browser includes a quality feedback agent to report a crash to Netscape, although it is not known what information is reported to Netscape. Moreover, both of these approaches apply to fatal crashes, i.e., when the operating system has decided to kill the application. Thus, there is a need for a method and system for reporting non-fatal crashes, such as when the operating system continues executing the application's code.

Re:Netscape Talk Back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112499)

Yea, but MS had been doing this for YEARS before Netscape.

Also just because the patent was granted now doesn't mean it hasn't been in filing for 5 years. Patents DO take a long time to complete.

Re:Netscape Talk Back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112524)

Actually if you read the patent, they actually reference Netscape's Talk Back there
while also describing how they differ from it.

talkback (2, Informative)

smartin (942) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112440)

Netscape has done this for years.

Re:talkback (5, Informative)

darkpurpleblob (180550) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112551)

Netscape has done this for years.
Yep. This is even noted in the patent:
To gather more information about a crash, different approaches have been taken. For example, America Online has the ability to determine the location of a crash of Microsoft's "INTERNET EXPLORER" web browser and report this information to Microsoft. However, other information regarding the state of a user's machine at the time of the crash is not known and it is difficult to distinguish between different crashes. Without this valuable information, not much can be done to determine whether there is a bug and, if so, correct the bug. Other approaches have been taken to tackle the problems of failures. For example, Netscape's "COMMUNICATOR" web browser includes a quality feedback agent to report a crash to Netscape, although it is not known what information is reported to Netscape. Moreover, both of these approaches apply to fatal crashes, i.e., when the operating system has decided to kill the application. Thus, there is a need for a method and system for reporting non-fatal crashes, such as when the operating system continues executing the application's code.
But the key thing is that Netscape's error reporting only occurred in the case of a fatal crash, whereas Microsoft's patent covers non-fatal program failures as well.

Re:talkback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112641)

"But the key thing is that Netscape's error reporting only occurred in the case of a fatal crash, whereas Microsoft's patent covers non-fatal program failures as well."

*Lol* Urrgh!

Probably like EOLAS's time stamp patent [164.195.100.11] , their key invention: The private key is deleted after submission. It's already granted in the USA.

So please support FFII.org [ffii.org] , Europe is our last hope to get rid of a world wide trivial software patent regime.

But at IBM (2, Funny)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112441)

It's called the Big Blue Screen of Death, right?

Perhaps related to activation, too? (2, Interesting)

neiffer (698776) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112442)

With Norton products scheduled for product activation starting with Antivirus 2004, I wonder if Mircosoft considers phone home technology part of their greater product activation scheme. It would be amusing watching Symantic and Mircosoft battle it out. :)

Re:Perhaps related to activation, too? (1)

Diamon (13013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112564)

Lets hope so! If companies are reluctant to put in any type of phoning home at all for fear of MS lawyers, that's all the better.

uh oh... (1)

another misanthrope (688068) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112444)

...think baster worm * phone callls... it'll be like trying to get through to a radio station when in fact it's your own house. Sounds ugly to me!

No need (5, Funny)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112445)

However, we all know that Microsoft has no need for error reporting software.

Re:No need (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112632)

Yes they do, but the department for fixing bugs has just been layedoff ;-)

Award for spyware (1)

CoffeeCrusader (660043) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112452)

hmm, obviously they were awarded for XP spying on you, thus keeping open a constant line to Redmond. sounds like a patent out of 1984 to me.

Contestation period (5, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112454)

We had a little seminar on patent system and patents in general at our company. As such, I asked some questions about software patents and these seemingly trivial patents like "one-click shopping". The guy responded that even though the Patent Office may grant the patent, all patents have (IIRC) 9 month period when others can comment on it and have it taken down if they have sufficient basis (such as prior art). Even after the period, they can still be taken down with a court ruling, but then the process is of course more expensive.

He mentioned that most of the more controversial ones, including the one-click shopping, have been contested and thrown away a long time ago. Can someone confirm this?

I'm not sure whether I should have believed everything, (mostly I think they were trying to goad the developers into thinking that software patents that were-soon-to-be reality here in Europe are a good thing), but just my two cents..

Like the sliding Windows Y2K patent? (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112581)

I hope someone took that sucker down. They were granted the patent in 1997 of 1998.

I personally had written prior art that I came up with on my own in 1985. I'm not claiming to be the first one to create that particular idea either, just that I created it on my own in 1985.

Due to "work for hire" clauses, that implementation would belong to General Electric. Talk about having deep enough pockets to sue!

Re:Contestation period (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112610)

The One-Click-Ordering patent was used by Amazon to get an injunction against Barnes & Noble during the holiday season a few years ago. Barnes & Noble was forced to insert an artificial 'second click' to comply with the injunction. It may have been thrown out since then, but even if it were it seems to have caused ridiculous, real-world damage while it lasted.

Phone home? (-1, Redundant)

adeyadey (678765) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112455)

But surely didnt ET get there first?

No wonder Einstein left the USPTO (-1, Offtopic)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112456)

How does getting a bigger cubicle farm works for the beleaguered PTO analysts.

I hope most everyone agrees with me but I work better in a real tight cubby hole with a stool and a glowing 21" flat CRT screen.

Bigger cubes is lower productivity.

Einstein proved it!

Re:No wonder Einstein left the USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112547)

Umm, Einstein never worked for the USPTO ... he was a patent clerk in Europe for a short time. I know this is a joke, but it would be funnier if you got your facts straight.

Re:No wonder Einstein left the USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112554)

I don't think Einstein ever worked for the USPTO, I believe he left his job as a patent clerk long before moving to the US.

Nearby... (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112459)

the new two million square foot USPTO campus



That place is about a stone's throw from my home. I wonder if they're hiring...



--RJ

Re:Nearby... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112527)

That place is about a stone's throw from my home. I wonder if they're hiring...

I wonder if you've got enough stones.

Re:Nearby... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112638)

Reckon half bricks will do the job?

So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112463)

I've been doing this in my software for years. If it crashes, and if the user wants to, my software opens their default email client with an email ready to go. It has the bug report in it, and asks them to click 'Send' once they've reviewed the data and added any comments of their own. Gee, maybe I should patent this fantastic idea too?

Cheers
Simon Haynes
www.spacejock.com

No Doubt "Most Used" in history of IT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112464)

heh, yeah, go figure...

Any solutions? (1)

dhuv (241988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112465)

Are any politicans looking into any of this? I know that the agency makes a lot of money, but what about all the business in the US that have to waste money fighting legal battles because of this stupidity. I am sure the innovation this stops makes it justifiable to have the lawmakers of this country do something about this mess. If I was asked for a topic in the debate during the next presidential election this would definetly be one of them.

Re:Any solutions? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112580)

Think about what you're saying. "business in the US that ... waste money fighting legal battles".

Where does this money go? Lawyers.

What business is congress in? Law.

Who runs one of the largest, best funded lobbying organizations? Trial lawyers.

And you want congress to shoot the horse they rode in on? Are you on drugz?

Patent madness... (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112470)

Someone needs to point out to the judiciary, if not the USPTO itself, that this is getting beyond a joke.

Take the car as an example. If Mercedes (or whoever it was who made the first car) had tried to patent the idea of putting four wheels together and putting a box on them to carry passengers, etc on a horseless carriage then, by USPTO standards, a patent would have been granted even though the arrangement was already commonplace - it's just a reworking of a horse-drawn carriage.

But, because this was a "new application" (or whatever they call this crap), it would have been patentable. And so would the steering wheel. And horns. And indicators. And headlights. And god knows how many engine-related things.

Software patents are the worst of the lot - how can patent law that's meant to give a generation's worth of protection (30 years) apply to an industry where 5 years may see two generations' worth of progress?

Nice Buildings.. (1)

s.a.m (92412) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112472)

They're nice buildings but I just can't imagine the traffic they bring. Great now my mornings of taking a 15 minute drive to work, which is already 30 mins b/c of traffic, will now be about 45 mins. Lovely isn't it?

I guess the one good thing is my dad is doing a lot of the work for planning out the interior of the building. Some huge 3d plans are on his comp at home. Man those things he's built up are awesome!

New Campus (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112475)

Maybe prior art searches will improve once the USPTO moves into the new two million square foot USPTO campus, which includes five interconnected buildings, a twelve-story atrium, a landscaped two-acre park, and a museum."

Don't be silly -- once they have the new digs, they'll have even less reason than now to look outside of their own records.

Patent-speak? (5, Funny)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112481)

  • 13. The method of claim 12, wherein the new entry comprises the location of the location of the failure.
errmmmm ... huh?

/ damn. I think MS is trying a buffer overflow on my brain ...

Would that be brain-stack overflow? (0)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112617)

By infinite recursion due to a short attention span?

Prior Art (1)

jhines0042 (184217) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112485)

IANAPL nor did I read the patent....

But, I was doing this in 1997 at a small company just as a best practice.

For a larger prior art example, how about all those copiers that you hook up to a phone line that calls someone when something breaks so that the repairman will show up with the right parts? Surely those devices run software.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112612)

IANAPL nor did I read the patent....

... but rest assured, I'm quite competent to comment on anything and everything that I haven't bothered to read.

There is NO prior art (5, Insightful)

swissmonkey (535779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112489)

Neither IBM's method nor Netscape's method were able to diagnose the failure and point the user to a fix.

This feature is clearly specified in the patent, which the moderator obviously didn't read before making his comment about IBM's prior art.

So this patent is perfectly valid, as no other bug reporting system known currently has this capability.

Re:There is NO prior art (3, Interesting)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112549)

You obviously haven't tried this feature out have you.

They have a very similar link in Event Viewer in the newer OSes. Click here to find out more about this message.

Click the link and you get taken to a page whic, as far as I can tell, just tells you that they have no further information on that error message.

Meanwhile MS are collating more and more information on what software is running on their customers' machines.

Re:There is NO prior art (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112579)

Hasn't Real software done this for a long time?

Re:There is NO prior art (0)

amightywind (691887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112558)

You mean the way photocopiers have for 15 years?

Re:There is NO prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112595)

Bull the phone home feature does not point the user to a fix.
It tells Microsoft what went wrong so they can either fix it or ignore it.
If 5 users have a problem, Ignore it.
If 50,000 people have a problem, perhaps we should issue a patch.
Everyone I know turns this crap off anyway as it usually causes more problems than it fixes.

Wrong ... (2, Informative)

cgh4be (182894) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112628)

I know for a fact that on the pSeries (Unix) and zSeries (Mainframe), the system includes a separate service processor that does just exactly that. So even if there is some sort of catastrophic failure of the main system, the service processor sees it, phones IBM, and their service guy shows up in an hour with the exact part that needs to be replaced. I think I would call this prior art.

I have a patent idea! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112490)

I think I'll patent "A method for discovering prior art in patent cases". It doesn't look like the USPTO have one...

Possible positive side effect (3, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112495)

The patent seems to indicate that Microsoft is focusing on improving the reliability of its software through analysis of failures in the wild.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find that a pretty bad way to go about improving your software. "Yeah it's buggy now, but allow us to analyse the gazillion crashes and we'll be able to reduce them to just a few hundred thousand."

Microsoft patents this, and thereby makes sure that no-one else gets to use this way of working (because we all know how happy Microsoft is about granting licenses to competitors). That's a GOOD THING. Competitors will be forced to use methods like improving the quality of the software through design, not PRODUCING buggy software in the first place, instead of pissing your users off by not only crashing software, but sending a bunch of data across your network, potentially complaining about not having an active connection, and opening up all kinds of exploits by triggering faults deliberately etc. etc.

Yes, just as Apple =) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112597)

Microsoft has allot of things to learn from Apple =)

People. People... (1, Funny)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112501)

When will you learn? Microsoft invented the computer and the web browser; Al Gore invented the internet; SCO invented Unix; and AOL revolutionized the information age. I hope this clears up any confusion you may have experienced.

excertp : (2, Funny)

borgdows (599861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112505)

Despite the best efforts of software developers, software programs inevitably fail at one time or another. One type of failure is a crash. A crash occurs while a program module is running and results in the suspension of operation of the program module. Crashes are frustrating to users and, in some cases, may cause the user to lose work.

oh my god!
isn't it supposed to be a feature??

Microsoft deserves the patent (1, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112506)

On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded a patent to Microsoft for its Method and system for reporting a program failure,

Yeah, so it's justified. I mean, other OSes display cryptic error messages, "guru meditation" errors (amiga), oopses, kernel panics or bombs with all kinds of unintelligible information only hackers can use.

Microsoft, on the other hand, introduced the large blue screen-wide postage stamp, so you *know* immediately it's time to hit that button next to the floppy drive, without having to read idiotic messages. How that for user-friendliness, hmm? uh?

Stop the Microsoft bashing. These guys really do innovate, whether you like it or not. Even Linux doesn't have that user-friendly reboot signal. It's such a sadly made OS it doesn't even crash in fact, that's how boring it is ...

fuddles fails to co-opt pateNTdead eyecon0meter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112507)

'home', for many of the fuddites' hostages is maggie.lahman.com.

the eyecon0meter cannot be stolen, because it is totally pateNTdead. not to mention, it will not function to do the bidding of corepirate nazi execrable, such as can be found in the felonious kingdumb of phonIE ?pr? ?firm? FUDgePackers(tm).

lookout bullow. the # of failures being reported is exponentializing.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. join the planet/population rescue initiative.

the lights are coming up now. pay attention (to the weather/your environment, for example). quite affordable, & tends to lead to increased abiltiy to identify/filter the deceptive ?pr? hypenosys distributed buy the corepirate nazi/walking dead contingent. tell 'em robbIE?

mynuts won: corepirate nazis or softwar gangsters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112563)

take yOUR pick. we can hardly tell them apart. appears .asp dough won's as bad as the other. you know where to look/up?

Re:fuddles fails to co-opt pateNTdead eyecon0meter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112586)

(Score: -1, Incoherent Rant)

Skip USPTO, the RPTO is way better! (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112508)

Rob's Pattent Trade Office will grant you any patent you like! You even have a choise of blue or yellow stripes on the certificate, so what are you waiting for..

Never mind these useless USPTO certs, RPTO is the wave of the future. Get them while they're hot!

The monitoring program "Big Brother" does this (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112510)

And it's been around for a fairly long time...a guy in Canada named Sean McGuire wrote it, and a lot of people use it. It is client/server and it uses port 1984 tocommunicate.

ttyl
Farrell

one obvious source of prior art (2, Funny)

(startx) (37027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112515)

*cough*netscape feedback agent*cough*

Re:one obvious source of prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7112545)

Read the patent. They reference Netscape and explain how they differ from it.
While I still disagree with awarding patents like this, it's definitely different
then what Netscape provides.

Overheard at the PTO... (1)

pr0t0plasm (183810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112522)

GS4 Lackey 1: Here's that MS 'phone home' application, up for prior art check.


GS4 Lackey 2: ...MSN.com ...search ...'phone home fault reporting'... aand no results!


GS4 Lackey 1: Novel!


GS4 Lackey 2: Non-obvious!


MSN.com server: belches


Error Reporting Software Reports Itself. (1)

pointzero (707900) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112531)

In other news, Microsofts Error Reporting Software reports itself. Users may go to windowsupdate.com to update their computers and fix this problem.... again.

Yay, more patents! (1, Funny)

Amorpheus_MMS (653095) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112552)

What is it with this sillyness? Is the USPTO just waving requests through?

Random guy 1: Uh, I'd like the patent on what I call "vehicle wheel". It's round and has spokes.
USPTO: Approved. NEXT!
Random guy 2: We have integrated an automatic error reporting into our software. If it breaks, it calls and tells us what happened. Patent please?
USPTO: Approved. NEXT!
Random guy 3: Hey, I have come up with a method to enrich blood cells with oxygen using organic material which I would like a patent on.
USPTO: Approved. NEXT!
...

(#3 turns around and is revealed to be Dr. Evil - he snickers manically having just patented breathing)

Common error in the not so distant future... (1)

borgdows (599861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112556)

Fatal Error in the module PHONEHOME.EXE

Can't contact Microsoft PhoneHome(tm) servers.
Please phone at 0800-MICROSOFT to report the error code.

error code: ms-caz767-aa$u%/!de-danc4eo-10.fe817ce;-e-5f-a'"(5 88

Prior Art (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112576)

Tandem (bought by Compaq, bought by HP) FT boxes (both Unix and Non-Stop OS) had the capability of literally phoning home (a Tandem monitoring center) to report the failure of a single component. Often a customer would be surprised when a service rep "spontaneously" showed up with a replacement part without being called by the customer.

So can you dis-prove a patent?! (2, Interesting)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112591)

I meant, produce enough prior art that the PO didn't find that shows that Microsoft's solution is not unique? Or if it is unique, ammend the patent such that it is less sweeping?

Conspiracy theory (1)

synergy3000 (637810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112613)

All Patent Attorneys have to take a separate Patent Bar exam in order to practice Patent Law. Does the USPTO take a cut of all patent lawsuits? If they do, it would explain why they license prior art every other day.

EMC and AIX affected? (1)

cabes (241151) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112615)

So what, do we have to pay M$ licensing fees for our EMC box's phone-home feature... They've had that feature for years... and IBM's had it in the RS/6000 (pSeries) for ages; it's called Service Director. Great thing. I think Bill Gates is rich enough.

All paid for... (1)

Eezy Bordone (645987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7112616)

By Microsoft.

Maybe prior art searches will improve once the USPTO moves into the new two million square foot USPTO campus, which includes five interconnected buildings, a twelve-story atrium, a landscaped two-acre park, and a museum."

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