Larry Greenmeier, at Scientific American, writes:
"Could your computer be turned into a utility that you pay for based on how powerful it is and how often you use it? The world's largest software company thinks so.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week published a Microsoft patent application that signaled the software giant's interest in developing a metered pay-as-you-go computing system in which consumers would pay a monthly fee to use their PCs but little or nothing up front to buy them.
Although the patent office rejected Microsoft's application, reports tech news Web site Ars Technica, the company laid out a plan for the future of computing, where bits and bytes are delivered to one's home similar to the way utility companies deliver electricity. Based upon documents available on the patent office's Web site, Microsoft's application lacked sufficient detail in several areas, including descriptions of the service and how it is different from other ideas already issued patents, according to patent examiner Murali Dega. Microsoft has the ability to tweak its application and resubmit. When contacted, the company would not disclose its plans regarding the patent application or the proposed metering service."