Microsoft’s vision for the future: pay-per-use Windows, Office, IE, etc.

I quit using Microsoft’s software (most notably, the Windows operating system) on my computers¬† in 2002, and have purchased no new Microsoft hardware (keyboards, mice, game consoles, media players, etc) for my own use (actually, none at all, really) during those six years and change. Nothing makes me more glad I left Microsoft’s world than a recent patent application by Microsoft for pay-per-use software, as reported by CNet.

My personal favorite quote from the CNet article:

Microsoft’s patent application does acknowledge that a per-use model of computing would probably increase the cost of ownership over the PC’s lifetime.

Gee, you think? This is Microsoft we’re talking about here, not a company known for making it less expensive for the people at the end of the supply chain.

The free software fans won’t care for this one either:

Integral to Microsoft’s vision is a security module, embedded in the PC, that would effectively lock the PC to a certain supplier.

Translation: Forget just installing your favorite GNU variant or other free operating system in place of Microsoft Windows, Cash Vacuum Edition.

A close friend of mine once remarked one day we’d get a Windows bill the same way we get our electric bill, phone bill, cable TV bill, etc. For a long time I didn’t believe him.

If you’ve been thinking about making the move to free software, this is a good time to do it. Even if you don’t, when this patent is granted (let’s be realistic, this is Microsoft we’re talking about, it almost certainly will), be very leery of just walking into your favorite electronics store with the idea of erasing whatever version of Windows is on the PC before replacing it with what you want; you might wind up very unhappy with the results.

It’s your freedom, and your money. Help keep it that way; just say no to this sham.

2 thoughts on “Microsoft’s vision for the future: pay-per-use Windows, Office, IE, etc.”

  1. This kind of pay-per-use software might be ok in internet cafes (if such things still exist), but even in that case it’s going to make increasingly little business sense compared to installing Linux and OpenOffice, and people are increasingly going to be using their own netbooks anyway.

    For mainstream computer use this doesn’t make any sense at all, especially since hardware costs have been falling for years, as have software costs if you use FOSS. If Microsoft actually end up using this patent I think all that will happen is that far more people will be driven either to Linux or to Apple.

    There have been crude attempts to lock computers to a specific supplier in the past, most notably with the “crapware” which comes pre-installed with most Windows PCs. During the dot com years some companies also tried to have computer hardware advertising supported – a strategy which failed.

    1. “No man ever lost money underestimating the stupidity of the American public.” — P.T. Barnum.

      Nothing is stopping Microsoft from simply making pay-per-use/pay-as-you-go the only reasonably affordable licensing option for the next version of Windows. If the choice is between a $1000 to $1500 unlocked PC (a good chunk of which is a one-time licensing fee for Windows), and a $500 locked to the pay-as-you-go version of Windows, it should be obvious what most customers are going to buy. Way too many people are hooked on Windows. It’s not entirely inaccurate to compare Microsoft to a cocaine or amphetamine cartel kingpin.

      Let’s face reality here, Apple is not exactly bargain basement either. The disadvantages of dumping Microsoft’s way for Apple’s way, is that you cannot buy the parts and build your own Mac, and you are stuck buying the Mac hardware and MacOS as a package deal. I would not mind buying the Mac hardware by itself (no OS); I am told they run at least OpenBSD just fine.

      I do hope GNU (including variants such as GNU/Linux) and other free operating systems do remain a viable option. I think it’s great that this post got picked up on, but to be honest, that’s not really who needs to be reading it. The ones that really need to be reading it, are the masses that almost certainly have no clue what’s cooking up there in Redmond and what it means for their wallet.

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