Microsoft was recently granted US Patent 7536726
, "Restricted software and hardware usage on a computer ".
From the patent:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Computer technology is continually advancing, resulting in new computers that are more powerful and cheaper than their predecessors. Such advancement has had a significant affect on people, expanding the types of tasks people perform with their computers as well as increasing the number of people who use computers.
Many computers are currently manufactured with a general purpose "open architecture" operating system installed. An open architecture operating system refers to an operating system that makes numerous functions available to the user and also allows the user to modify the computer by installing additional software programs on the computer that provide additional functionality to the user or by removing software programs from the computer. The operating system can make a wide variety of functionality available to the user, such as recreational or educational programs, reference programs, productivity programs (such as word processing or database functionality), communications programs, etc.
Translation: "Open architecture" operating systems have a wide variety of software that can allow you to be productive, artistic, educated, informed, or even entertained. You also have the ability to install or remove software as you see fit to meet your individual needs.
One problem inherent in open architecture systems is they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser. Consequentially, the purchase price of these systems being indifferent to usage scenarios means users with limited needs pay the same rate for these systems as those with universal needs.
Translation: "Open architecture" operating systems allow you full freedom to do with your computer as you see fit and do not restrict what features you are allowed to have. You get it ALL and it costs nothing! That is freedom. For Microsoft, having freedom of choice is a problem.
An additional problem with open architecture systems is that virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system. Some applications or devices may not operate properly due to a problem with the application or associated driver, yet many users associate such problems with the manufacturer of the system. Thus, it would be beneficial to provide a way for the manufacturer of the system to control the extensibility of the system.
Translation: "Open architecture" operating systems prevent vendor lock-in. You are not beholden to the whims of a single company. If something that better meets your needs comes along, you are free to change. If nothing meets your needs, you have the freedom to write your own software. Drivers? It is true that "open architecture" operating systems have occasional issues with lack of drivers, but this is mainly due to Microsoft's policy of not allowing its third-party developers to write for competing operating systems
. Need a driver for an "open architecture" operating system? Ask around; someone is writing one somewhere.
The invention described below addresses these disadvantages by providing restricted software and hardware usage on a computer.
Translation: When does the computer you buy become "yours"? Never, if you run Microsoft products on it. As long as you continue to use "closed architecture" operating systems on your hardware, your freedom to use your computer as YOU wish, not the vendor's wish, is limited.