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MS Seeks Patent For Repossessing School Computers

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-were-they-thinking dept.

Patents 299

theodp writes "Microsoft has applied for a patent for 'securely providing advertising subsidized computer usage.' The application describes how face-recognition webcams and CAPTCHAs can be used in schools to ensure that computer users are paying attention to ads, and the recourse of 'disabling or even repossessing the computer' if they are not."

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Typical Slashdot garbage (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968436)

Typical Slashdot garbage, the headline misrepresents the content of the story.

um, no? (2, Insightful)

monkikuso (1062016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968440)

I use plugins that disable ads. Why the hell would anyone want to use this? I can see this going nowhere pretty effing fast.

Re:um, no? (4, Insightful)

MiKM (752717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968466)

Did you even read the patent? This is for situations where a company gives a person a computer for free in exchange for looking at their ads. This isn't going to be a standard feature in Windows / something end-users install.

Re:um, no? (3, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968734)

This isn't going to be a standard feature in Windows / something end-users install.


You forgot the word "yet" on the end of that sentence.

This post brought to you by Scope mouthwash.

Re:um, no? (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968926)

The problem I have is that this is a whole other spin on 1984. If the local school board, for example, gets free computers, but in exchange for their free computers, students are forced to look at advertising, or lose the computers, then a conflict of interest triangle exists between the schools, Microsoft and the student body.

Teachers are supposed to be teaching a fair and objective view of history. Microsoft is supposed to be making money any way possible, like any good organization. Students are supposed to be thwarting any possible system to the bitter end.

So the students whip out the same magic marker they used to thwart the CD DRMs of yonder age, and they mark the cams so that MS thinks they are using them.

I hate Microsoft, and now it's official. I was actually on the fence prior to this Slashdot article. Now my mind is made up! ;-)

Thanks Slashdot!

Re:um, no? (3, Informative)

Flexagon (740643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969192)

Did you even read the patent?

Yes, I did. It refers in part to a common owner, for example, a business or school [emphasis mine].

[From the grandparent] Why ... would anyone want to use this?

Schools that believe they are strapped for cash do. Several years ago, our kids got McDonald's ads disguised as class exercises. For example, if you buy a Big Mac and fries for such and such prices, what is the total? All illustrated with logos and characters. Teachers would remove the sheets from a child's curriculum upon request, but despite ongoing complaints, administrators ignored the general problem until Consumer Reports reported the practice. There have also been subsidized soft drink machines and TV. They will keep trying and we must continue to object.

Re:um, no? (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969302)

My school was paid to have pop machines, but I don't consider it to be on the same level as this. The school was paid to have pop machines, not to say anything good about Coke. In fact, the teachers/administrators frequently said things like "Don't you know that that's bad for you?"

Ja? (5, Funny)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968442)

you vill look at ze ads und you vill vant to punch out ze celebrity? ja?

Re:VE HAVE VAYS TO MAKE YOU VATCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969138)

VE HAVE VAYS

Oh yay. (4, Insightful)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968444)

Look at our ads or else. Adblock, Flashblock, and NoScript? No problem! We'll just keep track and take the computer away.

Sheesh. I guess that's what happens when you don't own the hardware. Although I swear I keep expecting that one of these days I'm going to open the box for a mainboard, have to cut some tape to get the box open, and find a note inside that reads:

End User License Agreement
By opening this box you agree to the terms of this agreement... ...if you don't look at our ads, we can reposess this board...

I'm in a bad mood today. :(

As long as it's crackable... (4, Insightful)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968626)

As long as hardware specs remain open, that won't happen, but our current open marketplace is under threat from ideas like (nearly) mandatory driver signing in Vista (if you want the content), and DRM. Their purpose is to restrict the openness of the PC architecture.

The PC marketplace happened nearly by accident, through what would today be called hardware piracy by OEMs seeking to undercut IBM's monopoly over the PC architecture. You know the history, I'm sure.

The best innovation happens when engineers are free to innovate and motivated to do so. DRM, driver signing, authentication, keys, patents, licenses... these are all hinderences, concessions made to preserving the status quo, to protecting Big Money. The grey market drove the PC revolution, the little guys. Now the people who benefitted from that want to become and stay some sort of new IBM by controlling the architecture through crypto. The irony is palpable.

The crackers, the hardware hackers, they are today's heroes, as much as the IBMBIOS revengineers were way back when. They keep the wildcards in play, the market free. Vista touts security... it's not just security from worms, or viruses they're aiming for, it's security for Microsoft against the crackers that keep the playing field open, and the DRM behemoth at bay.

Re:As long as it's crackable... (1)

Hennell (1005107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968738)

>Now the people who benefitted from that want to become and stay some sort of new IBM by controlling the architecture through crypto.

But that's just obvious. If you were a 'little guy' who took over/became the new 'big guy' you'd be extra aware of the vulnerabilities of your position, and would take major care to secure it. You'd know first hand how you got where you were and what you exploited, and would make sure that it doesn't happen to you, but you protected if it does.

As long as it's BSable... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969226)

"DRM, driver signing, authentication, keys, patents, licenses... these are all hinderences, concessions made to preserving the status quo, to protecting Big Money."

Sez you! [wayne.edu]

Why advertise to someone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968446)


who can't afford a 100-200$ computer ? what are you going to sell them ?

of course the solution is simple in regard to children, simply forbid advertising of any kind that is directly targeted at a minor

people who prey or exploit kids need help, 9mm help

Re:Why advertise to someone (4, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968622)

>>
who can't afford a 100-200$ computer ? what are you going to sell them ?
>>

Based on a quick survey of any block of inner city America, that would probably be liquor, cigarettes, payday loans, and basic necessities. I'd hate to live in that sort of neighborhood, but giving the choice between living there with a computer and living there without, hey, I already have to pass liquor advertising on the way to work. If I see a little more in the privacy of my own home while studying to find a job to Get The Heck Outta Here that won't kill me.

>>
simply forbid advertising of any kind that is directly targeted at a minor
>>

Why not just take away kid's right to buy things. Its much simpler to enforce than figuring whether that advertising is directly targeted or not (c.f. Joe Camel, WWF-anything, or Cartoon Network -- the intersection of things which interest adults and kids alike is pretty wide), accomplishes the same objective, and could also be enforced with 9mm help. Of course, we'd think you were a crazy Communist nutball if you suggested it, but thats only because commerce is a perfectly legitimate thing and that children, have real (if qualified) rights to engage in commerce in the same manner that they have real (if qualified) rights to engage in speech. Oh noes, someone might try to influence the opinions they speak or influence what products they purchase! Well, great news, we have these things called "parents", who have vastly more influence and can deprive the child of this thing called "money" without which advertising is pretty much impotent.

Re:Why advertise to someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968736)

I'm afraid I have to post on this one. Oh, well, here it goes.

Most of inner city America is now gentrifying quickly and the stereotype listed here is, at the very least, obsolete. Yes, we still have liquor ads, cigarette shops, payday loans, heroin dealers, and the rest, but, I live in a million dollar house and I am surrounded by tech geeks who make a lot of money and seem to partake liberally of the liquor, cigarettes and pornography. What gives?

On the other hand, many homes around me are filled with children living very closely together. The old slumlord is very much alive even in a gentrified neighborhood. Two families to a one bedroom apartment is normal. $200 extra for a computer is not available. The struggle to get the kids through school is very real and the lure of a free PC is huge.

But I don't think a free PC with ads is any more likely to turn these kids into little consumers than the society as a whole is. It will warp their reality a little more and teach them to consume and not to think a little more. It will further weaken the good ol' USA a little more.

Yea for the parents, but give them a little support please!

 

Re:Why advertise to someone (2, Interesting)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969228)

I also have gotten tired of "inner city" being used as a codeword for "poverty" and "black/minority".

At least in Portland, poverty seems to be associated with some of the suburbs. Some of the most expensive homes are in the center of the city.

Re:Why advertise to someone (1)

meatmanek (1062562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969032)

You've obviously never seen a spoiled brat. Some parents don't seem to have the ability to deprive their child of anything, even if it is for their own good.

Re:Why advertise to someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968722)

Yes, toy companies are evil. Time to go kill that stupid singing giraffe.

And that doesn't even count cereal companies, they are Satan worshipers.

(sub $200 dollar computers are tough to come by unless you already have a computer to do the shopping with. Expect more $200-$400 for computer and then you need a monitor [~$100] and a printer. That doesn't include the electric bill or the likely hood that it will be stolen from one on the way home or from one's home or pawned by one's drunk/high parent(s))

Why advertise to penguins. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969110)

"people who prey or exploit kids need help, 9mm help"

Prepare your little ones to feel like the VIPs they are, when playing Lua Lua games! It's a particularly pleasing pack of 7 Linux games for kids ages 3 to 7. [phelios.com]

---
"Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting [the same inane comments they always do]."

Re:Why advertise to someone (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969218)

What do you sell someone who can't afford a computer and has to get a computer laced with horrible ads? You sell them a computer without horrible ads, of course.

"WANT TO HAVE A COMPUTER WITHOUT ADS? CLICK HERE!"

Even worse (for the low income people) is that it will quickly (d)evolve into them paying per day/week/month for "ad-less" computing, and over a very short period of time, they will have paid more for ad-less computing.

On the possible plus side, it may get computers into homes where there wouldn't traditionally be a computer.

Not so bad (2)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968448)

So this is basically almost the exact same things as companies that help pay for your car if you put an advertisement on the side...except more discreet, right?
I personally think this is a good idea.
It will help people that can't afford computers (and therefore can't get into certain lines of business) have one of today's most useful inventions.

Re:Not so bad (2, Insightful)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968556)

I disagree. Getting a computer is not that difficult. They are so commonplace that it is not that difficult to find an older model for free (Craigslist, family, streets, etc.) Four of my computers were obtained in these ways. Ads slow down computers (consider that since they are free, the hardware is probably not that good), and annoy the user into potentially giving up computers.

Also, paying ads does not help in the long run, because you never own it. Paying some amount a month is a lot better of an option.

Re:Not so bad (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968592)

I agree with some parts of your post. I think that it would make a lot of sense that after being forced to answer these ads for a certain amount of time, the computer should become yours. Almost like an installement plan.

Re:Not so bad (1)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968634)

The problem with that is that in order for the rental company to make a profit, the time you will have to use ads could be as long as several years.

BS, BS, BS, BS, and more BS (2, Insightful)

dublea (978870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968450)

Why would a company create something to enforce students to watch ads and not learn.... Yea, that makes perfect sense when most children these days don't have the funds to buy at pizza if they wanted to.

Re:BS, BS, BS, BS, and more BS (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968496)

The headline and summary are somewhat stupid for this story.

The patent mentions "school" exactly once, and is using it to just provide an example as to where it could be used. ("The policy may be directed to a single computer and thereby a single user or subscriber. Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.")

Re:BS, BS, BS, BS, and more BS (4, Insightful)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968502)

It is obvious that nobody is reading the article.
The summary adds sooo much stuff that the patent barely hints at.
Just because it's labeled Microsoft doesn't mean it is ALWAYS bad.

Go 'way (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968766)

We're having fun here. Go away! Shoo! Shoo!

Besides, the article is so stupid it should be modded off topic.

Re:BS, BS, BS, BS, and more BS (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969220)

It is obvious that nobody is reading the article.

Hi! Welcome to slashdot, enjoy your stay!

Timely? (5, Insightful)

Ixne (599904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968464)

This patent application was filed at the end of 2005... why is it just now coming up?

Re:Timely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968714)

Because it put MS in a bad light and this is Slashdot.

Re:Timely? (1)

Dufftron 9000 (762001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968816)

Because the publication of patent applications takes up to 18 months or never depending on what the applicant desires.

Re:Timely? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968942)

We haven't had time to notice it since we've been keeping attention on the ads so our computers keep running.

Beginning of the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968476)

I already thought the world was on the verge of coming to an end, but this seals the fucking deal. This is absurd. So it's not just the soda, snack and media companies with their hands in the school pockets, but MS and this shit? I remember the uproar over channel 1 and their (literal) one minute of advertising during the 14 minute program, but this takes the fucking cake.
What next, they going to start writing the textbooks?
 
Didn't Apple used to give deep discounts to schools to get the kids hooked to become paying users later in life?
 
Help us Steve, you're our only hope....

cheap Macs for schools (1)

green pizza (159161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968706)

Didn't Apple used to give deep discounts to schools to get the kids hooked to become paying users later in life?

Apple's education discounts are generally about 30% off list price, sometimes lower for certain promotions or bulk discounts. I remember Apple selling a "six pack" of Macintosh Classic computers for something like $600 each, when the regular retail list price was $999 (or about $799 when Wal-Mart was selling them just before the Classic II came out). The deepest education discount I've ever seen was for the Macintosh LC, LC II, LC III, and LC 475 aka Quadra 605 machines from Apple's low-cost-color line. You've probably seen them, very slim machines, about 2 inches tall, usually with a matching low-profile 12" - 15" monitor sitting on top. The original LC was list price for about $2300 without montior, the education price was closer to $1000. By the time the LC 475 came out the retail list price was $900, education price was $800. Too bad most schools spent their budgets buying the original LCs, as the LC 475 was a really good deal with its 25/50 MHz 68040 CPU and fairly fast graphics (for 1993).

In Soviet classrooms... (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968478)

...ads watch you.

Good Idea... (1)

Famatra (669740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968490)

Although instead of Microsoft good people should patent all kinds of stupid/evil business ideas to prevent others from inflicting them upon the public.

RedHat did this idea actually, by patenting a DRM mechanism and vowing not to use it.

Is "Armed Robbery" patented yet? (1)

Keith McClary (14340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969084)

I suppose there would be "prior art", so how about "Armed Robbery using computers and the Internet" ?

Carbonated Beverages and Behaviour Modification (5, Insightful)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968498)

A diet pepsi costs the following- can you match them up?

1) $1.00
2) $1.25
3) $1.39

with
A) Work Vending Machine
B) School Vending Machine
C) Grocery Store

If you said 1-B, 2-A, and 3-C, you're Right!

What does that mean? Exploit the students. Get them addicted to soda, (We called it 'coke' where I come from and for good reason), profit insanely at their completely disposable income, and they'll continue to provide for you the rest of your corporate career!

This patent is sickening. Schools currently use IE, but as they switch to ad-blockable content (anything available for IE) then there is SO much profit-potential lost it's absurd.

We (I and several other individuals) mentor about 30 HS students. It is TRULY amazing how much their minds are like sponges- and how easy it can be to inadvertently modify their behavior. An unkind word, a stern glance, and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with that topic. It's insane. The mentors themselves end up having to walk this twisted line of professional dedication (our backgrounds) and playing psychologist ("How does that make you feel").

Let's face it- the whole point of this is about money, and cash is king. The brains are just too wired for this behaviour (Nestle's Chocobot hour) to be anything but profitable thru very specific programming.

They'll get the patent..... and it'll be up to us to fight the intrusion into the school. Here's a hint- it'll be over a decade, nice and slow, thru 'gifts' of OS and computers...

Re:Carbonated Beverages and Behaviour Modification (1, Informative)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968560)

That's odd, at school they were $1.25, at the store they are $1.05, and at work soda is free. The amusing part is that I drink a lot less soda at work then I did in school. After your first week or two of free soda you get tired of the sugar and start drinking water, juice, milk, etc.

Re:Carbonated Beverages and Behaviour Modification (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968650)

You need to find another grocery store.

Re:Carbonated Beverages and Behaviour Modification (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968670)

Sorry, but no.
Pop (at least here) is most expensive in schools and on college campuses. A 12oz. can goes for between $.60 and $.80. The same [brand name] can costs $.20 in a 12-pack at the grocery on sale, which they are on every other week.

It's nice to be able to blame readily available products, but there are other influences.
Violence can be just as addictive as sugary foods and caffeine. At my university there are plenty of assholes, and plenty of loose chairs. Have I ever beaten anyone with a chair? Nope.
Some people teach their children about things called CONSEQUENCES to their actions, and that is a Good Thing(tm).

Pop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968788)

What is this "pop" you speak of?

Re:Carbonated Beverages and Behaviour Modification (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968772)

14c doesn't really seem like such a difference from the grocery store that the kids will change their drinking habits. I doubt pop is a good idea in schools, but it's not the corporations introducing them to it; it's their parents.

repossessing (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968500)

Let see how far M$ can get with trying to repossess State Property.
How many school would even sign up for this? I did read about some thing like this a few years ago in pcworld and it said that the school could not install any software and they had to open up the lab to the people who gave them the computers for there own uses. It also used SAT internet. I think it was called zapme or something like that.

Re:repossessing (1)

MiKM (752717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968562)

In this case, it wouldn't be state property. The computers would be the property of MegaCorp which offers the computers for free in exchange for the users watching (and paying attention to) adverts. Honestly, this has little to do with schools (e.g., it could be used ANYWHERE) This does NOT apply in any way to computer purchased by the schools (or whoever the end user is)

Re:repossessing (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968654)

Plenty if they have an ad-profit sharing program. What reason do you think they let the vending machine in?

Re:repossessing (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968846)

vending machine don't need to hooked up to the internet and the school can control when they are turned on.
also schools like to have there systems locked down what kind of access does the ad software need?
Can the schools keep ads that don't belong in school off of them?

Channel One (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969118)

How many school would even sign up for this?

Many here will remember Whittle Communications.

Whittle's specialty was marketing to the captive audience.

Familiar magazines disappeared from your doctor's waiting room to be replaced by Whittle's glossy, content-free substitutes. Whittle was never subtle. It was all or nothing.

Schools were offered free sattelite dishes, educational programming, VCRs, and other high-tech goodies.

In exchange, students would be required to watch the twelve minute commercial Channel One News, [wikipedia.org] nine days out of every ten.

Exclusivety Protectoin? (3, Insightful)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968504)

Maybe they want to patent it so that nobody else can. I can't see M$ wanting to see something like this in use under their name. I can't see Microsoft wanting anybody to use this sort of thing. Talk about an incentive to get Linux - sheesh.

Two other patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968510)

An other patent should cover the development of an application, that Microsoft software users can install on their computers. This software will keep a global database of all Microsoft product crash world wide, tracking the software name, version, time of crash, time of recovery. This application could keep track of all the Microsoft software crashes, the time from crash to recovery, calculate and publicly display at a web site the number of crashes, the number of lost time and other statistics.

An other patent should cover how companies can reposess licence fees from Microsoft for lost productivity of crashing software, using the first patent, as basis for a class-action law suite.

Dear Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968532)

Dear Microsoft: FUCK YOU

Schools? Are you sure? (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968548)

What does this really have to do with schools? They're used in one example but the general idea seems to be only indirectly related to them.

Think of the children? (4, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968552)

I hate it when our politicians do it, and I hate it just as much when you do it.

The summary ( and link ) say nothing about schools. Putting that in the title is egging for a flame war. It makes you ( the submitter and editor ) look like an idiot.

Re:Think of the children? (2, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968820)

welcome to Slashdot. This is par for the course.

Re:Think of the children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968838)

FTFP:

The policy may be directed to a single computer and thereby a single user or subscriber. Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school. When the limit of incorrect responses is reached as an aggregate of group of computers, a sanction may be imposed or a higher level of monitoring may be initiated.


Besides, who the hell else is going to use an ad-supported computer?

Re:Think of the children? (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968976)

the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.
It seems like this renting would generally only be attractive to people who won't have a computer otherwise: poor people, poor libraries and schools, and small businesses. It doesn't sound like the sort of thing people would take to help their budget. I would guess that ad-supported computers are better than no computers at all, despite being a hinderance ot learning.

Re:Think of the children? (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969258)

The summary ( and link ) say nothing about schools.

Excuse me? How about:

Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.
Putting that in the title is egging for a flame war. It makes you look like an idiot.

Coming from the "Germans love David Hasselhod" sig guy, that's rich.

New MS slogan: (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968584)

Microsoft: We're the Douchiest!

Re:New MS slogan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968938)

No, the current slogan is perfectly fine if you read the fine print:

Your potential^. Our passion*.

^ to make us bags of money
* for that money

Editing? whazzat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968608)

The word "school" is contained within the patent exactly once.

Move over Zonk...

Try the Pavlov method (5, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968674)

Wire up the chair and every time they look away give them a shock.

Chairs? (1)

MiKM (752717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968886)

I'd hate to see the Ballmer way.

Re:Try the Pavlov method (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969280)

The Pavlov method would feed them every time a bell sounded, and it would get messy because there would be drool everywhere. More like a preschool than a grade school. You're thinking of the Milgram method, but for accuracy you'd have the kids shock each other when a teacher told them to. Also in the bag o' tricks is the Zimbardo method, which they get to use when they grow up, join the Army, and work in a secret prison in Iraq.

If true, this is sooo perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968684)

Companies need to make money to keep (usually avaricious) share holders happy, so there will always be companies that sink to new lows in order to do so. But this one, if true, is a case of such behavior from, not just a company that tests lowness regularly, but from a company that has run out of ideas.

Time to begin moving your money out, if you haven't already started.

The summary tricks us, history repeats itself (3, Insightful)

joe_cot (1011355) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968690)

This happens time and time again on Slashdot: the article title and summary mislead us into believing something the article doesn't even mean, or the article is misleading and sensationalist itself, and no one bothers to confirm its accusations before putting it on the front page for thousands to see. Time and time again we're tricked into taking a stand [slashdot.org] , and then look like idiots later [slashdot.org] .

Just because it's about Microsoft, doesn't mean you have to buy it. Sure, you want to believe it; I want to believe it. But if the trick works on us now, it'll be used in the future, to position you against issues you would stand for otherwise. One of the noblest actions a man can take is not take a public stand against something he knows nothing about. Don't comment on this until you RTFA.

School kids? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968702)

Since when do school kids pay attention to anything anyway, let alone boring ads? Most of them will be so busy boucing around and yapping about whatever the big fad of that particular time is that the sensor won't know what to make of it. Unless, of course, they follow up with the Microsoft Children's Head Vice.

Re:School kids? (2, Insightful)

earthtoerika (1060424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968826)

When this is in schools, Not Looking at the Ads will be punishable by a trip to the principal's office and possibly a two-day suspension.

America, home of the facist and enslaved (1)

phouqhue (803807) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968704)

Control, it's not just a button on your keyboard but your future master.

This is the Net-Zero/PeoplePC model (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968726)

I cant see this affecting schools...I just read the patent and it says that they are "giving some service or software at a reduced cost or free in exchange for mandatory ad viewing and feedback" Net zero and PeoplePC built companies that ultimately failed on similar logic. (Net Zero restructured and now sells $9.99 dial up now)

It boils down to this: no commercial product or service is free...either pay in cash or in time/privacy/inconvenience. Of cource, you do not NEED windows and MS office, Linux and Mac OS X are there too ya know!

This is the "Linux is good for everything" model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968870)

"Of cource, you do not NEED windows and MS office, Linux and Mac OS X are there too ya know!"

So Reader Rabbit now works on Linux? Do you realize that there's more to schools than just MS and Office, don't you?

I love dystopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968750)

Does it mean the future will be more like "a clockwork orange" and less like "1984" ?

You have to love.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968756)

..the sheer imagination which has gone into this slashdot summary. I, for one, have read the patent, and although it doesn't sound like the most appealing piece of technology in the world, a one-line summary would be "a computer provided by a service provider or parent entity of some sort which is subsidised by, or pays the user to view, advertisements hard wired into the computer".

Bending this into one extreme use-case of such technology, and basing the slashdot article around it is simply masterful FUD-mongery of the sort that Microsoft themselves should envy.

Seriously, read the patent. It's not actually *that* bad.

worst idea ever (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968768)

yes, because the kids need to be paying attention to the ads on their computer, and not to getting an education. "come get these free computers, all it costs is your education"

Fake story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17968786)

This is utter bs. There is no article, just a patent and the word "school" is used exactly once as an example organization. The patent is to help ad supported services get the necessary revenue when allowing free usage. Think public internet terminal.

---
When an incorrect response is supplied, or fails for another reason, the "No" branch from block 411 may be followed to block 414, where the incorrect response may be analyzed with respect to a policy for incorrect responses. The policy may specify a number of allowable incorrect answers, either in total or during a period of time, for example, 3 incorrect answers per day or 30 incorrect answers per month. When the allowable number of incorrect answers has been exceeded, several response are possible, from noting a user's record but taking no action, to a follow up communication with the user, to disabling or even repossessing the computer 110. The policy may be directed to a single computer and thereby a single user or subscriber. Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school. When the limit of incorrect responses is reached as an aggregate of group of computers, a sanction may be imposed or a higher level of monitoring may be initiated.
---

Left hand vs right hand? (4, Interesting)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968790)

Somebody at Microsoft didn't understand what somebody else was doing...

The whole reason for Microsoft giving free computers to schools in the first place was to get them used to the Windows OS, and hopefully prevent them from wanting to switch to Linux. It wasn't supposed to be just a short-term revenue stream.

If they actually use this, schools will start saying no thanks to their "free" computers - which will, in the long term, be a serious blow to Microsoft.

Re:Left hand vs right hand? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969034)

Gates's Microsoft and Ballmer's Microsoft are two different companies. Just look at Office 2007 and Vista, so [unpleasantly] different they are from the previous releases. In this light it is possible that the modern MS is done with free education, and is going in for the money.

Re:Left hand vs right hand? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969316)

If they actually use this, schools will start saying no thanks to their "free" computers - which will, in the long term, be a serious blow to Microsoft.

Hm. You raise a good point, and have managed to change my mind: I'm now in favour of it!

- RG>

Excellent patent! (2, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968802)

Fascinating stuff. This is pretty clearly evil and dangerous behaviour, at least from a cursory glance at the application. However, it
  • is
actually fairly innovative and unique. Now to the best of my knowledge, patents aren't supposed to be concerned with the morality of the application, but the originality and non-obviousness of it.

Microsoft should be hung out to dry for this, but from a patent aspect, it's valid.

Re:Excellent patent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969124)

That was the most bizarre use of a bullet list I think I've ever seen.

Re:Excellent patent! (3, Insightful)

jpetts (208163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969212)

This is by no means innovative and unique. This sort of challenge/response system to allow one to continue was implemented in many computer games during the 80s. Typically you would be asked to enter a word from a specific page and line in a manual.

Good (1)

d2_m_viant (811261) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968830)

I hope those webcams catch me flipping Bill G the middle finger.

negative side of targeted ads to volerable (0)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968834)

Youngsters are our most volnerable...if this thing really does hit schools, it could be really disgustingly bad: would the over-weight kid who is trying to lose weight (at the insistance of parents and doctors) be hit with candy ads? What if a kid searches out things about suicide because things arent going too well...will he see ads for guns or rope? what about the kid who is looking for porno, will he see ads for playboy (YES playboy/Maxum/Hustler DO target the under-18 crowd?...I got invites to subscribe to all of those when I started buying college books at Follets at age 17, preping for summer semester before HS graduation... this could be a huge cluster-f**k...

Re:negative side of targeted ads to volerable (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968894)

Follets systems are not just as messed up.
Why put a 32 bit pci card in a pci-x 133 slot? when there other pci slots.
Why run nt4 on p4 based duel xeon systems?
Why run your pos system on 98 inside of cases that you can cut your hand on because the case in real small.

negative side of violent games to the vulnerable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969028)

"Youngsters are our most volnerable...if this thing really does hit schools, it could be really disgustingly bad:"

I agree we should keep violent games away from our children.

I thought of this (4, Interesting)

David_Shultz (750615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968866)

I thought of this very system over three years ago, although it wasn't for the nefarious purpose of forcing school children to watch targetted ads. The idea actually was to set up a system whereby internet users could sit down, and watch ads for a few minutes to earn some money (sell your time). Obviously I take let's say 2% of what they get. I needed a way to check if the user was actually watching the ads, and the system sounds remarkably what MS guys were able to come up with. I didn't have the time to set up the site.

This situation to me highlights some of the annoying aspects of patents. First, if I had billions of dollars of cash lying around, I would have this patent (would've applied without a second thought). How then, is this system helping individual innovators rather than big corporations? Second, isn't it clear that the patent system isn't promoting R and D in this particular case?

On the plus side, I do believe a site has recently popped up that does what I wanted to do, and they probably have implemented a comparable system. Therefore, MS might lose this patent on the grounds of prior art, which is a plus.

Also, I wonder whether MS intends to charge for the webcams being provided, since they are required for the face tracking, but the schools might not (and probably don't) want them.

Re:I thought of this (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969112)

Would these challenge/response and head-tracking ideas be obvious to anyone trying to guarantee attention is being paid to ads? And how obvious would it be to think of ensuring attention to ads in the first place? That seems like the problem with patents. Things might seem non-obvious at first, but maybe each step in the path to a new idea is obvious.

sunglasses? (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968962)

if the person is wearing sunglasses, would the computer tell if they are looking at the ads or not? what about if someone just blocked the camera? (a little beyond reality here) what if you took a photo of a person looking in the location of an ad, then put the photo infront of the camera at the proper scale?

In Soviet Russia (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17968970)

The computers repossessed you!

Late Turning in Test (1)

erica_ann (910043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969020)

Teacher: "Johnny, why are you late for turning in your test?"

Johnny: "The letters you have to type in the box... well It took me 29 minutes just to get the right letters in after the ad - to get back to submit the test online. Wasn't that why you were late sending us the link to the test?"

double plus ungood (1)

InnerPhalanx (783564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969026)

to even think this'd get off the ground, you're crazy... I mean really, who the heck is going to buy a computer, then?

I can see it now: MS office 2008 - mind control edition

Great.. (3, Funny)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969044)

I just burned all my mod points on my last slashdot visit on stupid stories. Figures something good is posted right afterward.

quizes in school everywhere. (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969068)

From the Article:

"A method and apparatus for assuring delivery of paid advertising to a user may involve asking a question about an advertisement or requiring data about the advertisement to be entered."

So now the ad providers quiz you and the teachers?

Good idea (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969202)

Anyone using a a MS computer, should have it reposessed.

Isn't this too obvious to be patentable? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969242)

Everybody is concentrating on how offensive this is, but there is another issue. Isn't this all perfectly obvious? How can this be patentable? Finding out if people are paying attention by quizzing them on what they were supposed to be watching is an old schoolteacher trick. As far as I can see from skimming the patent application there is nothing remotely innovative in the technology they use to do this.

Who still thinks MS isn't evil? (4, Insightful)

demo9orgon (156675) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969270)

Microsoft is giving us more valid reasons to successfully argue that they have no place in the classroom.

They're making is very clear that they are achieving the kind of critical mass where they will act with impunity.

It isn't enough that they make an OS that exploits people at home, now they're seeking to patent a way to enforce it on students.

So how long before this kind of thinking migrates to television?

"We're sorry _Survivor_ is withheld for (countdown)min. until the next commercial break because you muted three or more commercials. In order to ensure an uninterrupted broadcast you must maintain at least a 25 db. audio output and not avoid the screen. Thank you."

Or better yet,
Ben checks his online bills and sees a slightly larger cable bill.
"Hey, honey. Why is the cable bill $20 more...oh crap, it says there's a fee for _Subsidy-Avoidance_ WTF is that?"
"Remember when I told you that if we removed that feedback box they'd tag on a fee?"
"I don't get it..." He scratches his head and looks at the TV.
"Remember how our subscription rates for Office went up because we didn't agree to run an ad validator? It's the same thing." She says as Ben looks for something to kick and starts wondering where he put that extra cable box.

At least they aren't trying to tell us that this will keep us safe...yet.

Prior art (1)

Selanit (192811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969292)

Back when I was a whippersnapper, we had these crazy things called "quizzes." The teacher would show us some information, and then later on we'd have to answer questions about it, just to be sure we'd understood it.

Of course, when my teachers did it, the point was to teach me stuff that would be useful later on. Like being able to spell words so I don't sound like an idiot, or add up numbers reliably. With this, the point is to boost some corporation's profit margin by pushing products on impressionable kids. Yuck!

Schools? (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969318)

What does this patent, which is actually a clever way to get subsidized computers into underprivledged areas, have to do with schools?

The patent only mentions "school" once, in the context that it can be used "at a business or school".

So if a location opts to install ad-funded computers, then what's so wrong with that?

Obligatory Simpsons quote (5, Funny)

Garabito (720521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969328)

Skinner: We can buy =real= periodic tables instead of these promotional ones from Oscar Meyer.
Krabappel: Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?
Martin: Ooh ... delicious?
Krabappel: Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.
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