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Microsoft seeks "pay-as-you-go" computing patent
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17:01, December 30, 2008

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Microsoft has applied for a patent on metered "pay-as-you-go" computing, which means users would only be charged for the hardware, software, and services actually used but the computers would be subsidized or even free, according to media reports Tuesday.

The patent application, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June 2007, was released on Christmas Day, highlighting what Microsoft sees as the future of computing from a consumer's standpoint.

The end users could end up paying more for the computer under this scheme, compared with the one-off cost entailed in the existing PC business model, but would benefit from the deferred payments and by having a system with an extended "useful life."

The applications says the scheme is a method of operating a computer that presents to the users a catalog of options with a price associated with each. The total cost would depend on the number and kind of options selected and the charge for operating the computer could be a fixed rate for a specific time period, a onetime charge, or an hourly rate.

Rentable hardware components could include processors, memory and graphics controller. Rented software and services could include word processing, e-mail, Web browsing, database access and more. A computer modified for such a business model would need a metering agent to track usage and a security module to prevent tampering.

While such patent applications do not always lead to products, they do give some inkling as to what the applicant is considering, according to computer science experts.


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