Big Dumb Idea: Microsoft outlines vision of pay-as-you-go computing

CNN.com and CNET.com are jointly reporting that Microsoft has applied for a patent on metered, pay-as-you-go computing.

I understand that Microsoft (MSFT), after failing to conquer the Internet and to acquire Yahoo (YHOO), that it is now trying to discover new ways, even the most ridiculous ones that are surely doomed to fail, again, in order to maximize their online revenue. And this one in particular, for consumers to pay per each computer use, is the worst and probably the dumbest, because users will be subjected to paying more unnecessary fees and the majority won’t buy into the plan.

There’s already that 24-hour running, the most annoying TV ad from “Blue Hippo – get a brand new laptop or desktop”. And I am not sure how successful that one has been either.

Update: So, with this new, ill-conceived idea, you as a user, would pick up a computer from wherever, bring it to your home or work and only pay each time you use it. Then will Microsoft become like FedEx Kinko’s, where some users used to go and rent computers billed per each minute of use? This is real dumb! Microsoft just needs to quit trying to exploit revenue online and focus on what they do best or worse, innovative software, and some unique computing peripherals.

CNN.com states that; “Under a Microsoft proposal, consumers would receive heavily discounted PCs, then pay fees for usage. U.S. patent application number 20080319910, published on Christmas Day, details Microsoft’s vision of a situation where a ‘standard model’ of PC is given away or heavily subsidized by someone in the supply chain. The end user then pays to use the computer, with charges based on both the length of usage time and the performance levels utilized, along with a “one-time charge.”

Read more about this at CNN.com.

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28 thoughts on “Big Dumb Idea: Microsoft outlines vision of pay-as-you-go computing

  1. As if windows wasn’t bad enough as it is! I will use windows when necessary and use linux for the rest!

    hmm come to think of it you could put linux on a subsidized PC too!

  2. You have got to be kidding me. I cannot imagine a single person that would be gullible enough to actually buy into this crazy scheme. It is bad enough that “Rent to Own” places actually end up charging 2 to 3 times more for a product than actual cost. These businesses prey on the low income families that cannot afford to put down $500-$1,500 dollars for a new computer at one time. So, they give it to you for “free” and then start charging money for it on a monthly basis.

    Unfortunately, this same “Bait and Switch” with “free” items has been done many times before. Think Cable TV, Satellite TV, Pay Per View, XM Radio, etc. Going from receiving free programming to being charged a “nominal” amount for “premium” programming sucks. Does that mean the free programming is not premium?

    I hope Bill “money grabbing” Gates chokes on his little scheme to bilk the public out of their hard earned dollars.

  3. This idea is so idiotic that it will appeal to LOTS of idiots: the idiots
    who look only at initial cost; the idiots who were surprised when the rate on their ARM went up; the idiots who pay their credit card companies 12% to 18% for the “convenience” of buying stuff they can’t afford (and don’t need). While I don’t care a rat’s ass what happens to idiots, the events of the past three months show that they can do a vast amount of harm to people other than themselves.

  4. This is just pathetic. It will be alright for those people who don’t really use the computer at all, but seriously the hardcore gamers/programmers/computer cafes? Most internet cafes have around 20-30 computers running ALL DAY everyday. Do you have any idea how much that would cost?

    Gamers play games, they buy the games and if it is a online pay game (such as World of Warcraft, EVE, Warhammer etc.) then they will be getting charged not only to be able to access the games online features, but to actually have the ability to RUN the game.

    I have been overall neutral to the whole Mac vs. PC thing. I think they both have something to offer depending on what you are looking for in a computer. If this goes through, Mac will follow and then…..I will leave both of them and I will run screaming to Linux.

    This is the most pathetic thing I have ever heard of.

  5. For the computer junkies, this is actually great news!… When your computer quits, simply take the hard drive out and put it in a brand new PC that is free of charge! Or, use the parts off it to fix yours!
    This is gonna make Microsoft all kinds of money, LOL.

  6. This article appeared to focus on the abstract and the disclosure of the patent, and suggests that the language in those sections determines the scope of the patent rights — rights to exclude others from commercially exploitation over the patent term in exchange for public disclosure.

    However, the relevant portion of the patent document for ascertaining patent rights are the claims, which are enumerated at the end of the document, in a very specific linguistic art with special legal interpretations. In that sense, I believe this article may be somewhat misleading.

    The filed claims may be amended during the course of the application process, to overcome prior art to arrive at something patentable. In many cases, this results in very narrow claims being ultimately issued, and thus becoming legally binding if valid.

    In this particular case, all the claims have been rejected by the examiner in a first office action. This means that the claims can be argued over the examiner’s findings, or may be amended to overcome the prior art cited by the examiner. As such, it is questionable whether the issues raised in the article would ever actually come to pass in view of this particular patent application.

    I am certain that there are already many patent claims issued in the “pay-as-you-use” segment of computing. The published office action should theoretically point to the closest references with regard to this Microsoft application, but there are likely hundreds of other patents out there covering various aspects in this space.

  7. I agree with the Blog article and the prior Posts … this “pay-as-you-go computing” is absolutely idiotic!! But, as “Scrooge” notes, there are plenty of idiots out there who seem to ignore long-term costs … so maybe MS will find some traction with this ridiculous service! And I’m NOT one of the “MS haters” … I’m a long-term user of Windows, and will likely use MS “Office” applications until my dying day! But those apps will be “bought-and-paid-for” upfront … and will run locally on my “bought-and-paid-for” PC! This is a tried-and-true approach that makes sense regardless of what happens on the Internet. After all, if we had started with “pay-as-you-go computing”, it would not have been long until someone would have “discovered” the “better approach” … which is what we been using!!
    C. Schell 12/29/08

    PS: just because something is new & different does NOT mean that it’s better!

  8. *sigh* well maybe this will push Linux more into the mainstream, even for such things as gaming, which is entirely the domain of Windows. What would I do without Windows? I have a feeling I’m about to find out.

  9. I agree that this idea is really bad for consumers. It would take a real fiscal moron to think this is a good idea. But seeing the state the of our economy, I think some people will be beating a path to Microsoft’s door for this deal.

    *
    This article is missing some key points that I have read else where. Microsoft really wants to lease it’s software, not sell it.
    What if the next version of office only lasted 1year after it was installed? Then you would be forced into a new purchase. Microsoft could easily do this to consumers.

    Remember, Microsoft wants more of your money and they will try any plan to get it.

  10. This idea is so full of holes I can’t imagine it working. Does Microsoft intend to lock down your browser so you can only surf where they allow? Otherwise, what’s to keep someone from signing up for the “browser only” level of service and just using Google Docs for all their office stuff? If this is Microsoft’s idea of cloud computing then they still don’t get it. There might be a place for pay-as-you-go computing, but this ain’t it.

  11. This article appears to misrepresent the actual situation in the “pay-as-you-use” space for methods of paying for software. This MS patent is simply a tiny modification of the method, and there are many issued patents in this space. As such, this entire discussion appears unfounded and misleading. I am amazed that such misrepresentation of the facts would hit the news wire and be picked up by CNN.

  12. Based on some of these comments on here and also many others around the Web, I hope Microsoft decides to seriously abandon this stupid idea of Pay-As-You-Use for computing. This is a clear indication that the community just doesn’t want it.

  13. AgentG,

    I was just tracing your web surfing and realized that you have visited several blogs on this very same subject, and that’s an indication that the comments you’ve posted on here or elsewhere in regard to the subject matter imply that you either represent Microsoft, or work for them.

    Is that right? Would you care to disclose your affiliation, if any?

  14. Technically, this could be the plan that puts Microsoft out of business. Imagine if you will, hoardes of PC junkies getting almost free computers. They then go ahead and sell the crap out of them on Ebay as regular computers. Or they take them all apart and build their own versions of huge computers and take out the .dll files that will make it a pay as you go computer.

    There is so much wrong with this idea it isn’t funny. Someone needs to start one of those online petition deals. Microsoft can’t even create a decent browser, let alone a unique business model. Stay out of my wallet Bill Gates.

  15. This could possibly work for the older people. Say they get a computer for $100 and all the do is email their children and grandchildren, then I see a point in doing that.
    Also it will all depend on the amount they plan on charging for the use. If it’s a ridiculous amount then they will not succeed with that.

  16. I’ve kept an old Thinkpad 600 alive for 10 years with Mandrake linux and load Mandriva on every PC since. Just got an HP laptop and immediately had it de-vista-ed. The old TP600 struggled with any MS OS past Win95, which couldn’t handle any of the hardware upgrades I added.

  17. Wow, all that bug-ridden Microsoft software forced directly onto my home computer and I get to pay per minute as well? Wow! Sign me up! And don’t forget the added benefit of being forced to use old hardware too…or do you think Microsoft will drop in the latest and greatest video card for free as soon as it is available? I suspect their hardware support will be just as stellar as their software support. I would love to pay for bad software and bad hardware AND allow Microsoft direct access to my home computer! That’s great! I hope they force advertisements right onto my desktop, advertisements with sound in case I have left the room. And I bet Microsoft will make sure that I don’t personally load any pesky personal programs that I want to have on my computer, better to let them decide for me. And if I fail to make a payment on my PC, I get to lose all my family photos, my banking information, any programs I may have purchased, any work I may have started, and everything else! It’s like Microsoft will get the chance to repossess my life! So what will happen if I miss a payment? Will they send thugs to take my PC forcibly from my home or will they simply disable it remotely? If Microsoft can disable it remotely, can’t someone else (and quite easily I suspect)? And, since we are talking about Microsoft, will there ever be a day when I am “accidentally” locked out of my own PC because Microsoft decided I was bad? If I yell at technical support, will they simply deny me and my family the use of a computer forever? Oh boy and imagine if they had been able to shove Vista down our throats! NO THANKS! I abandoned Microshaft programs long ago (thank you Open Office and Chrome and Linux) and have no intention of ever allowing a Microcrap product to touch my computer again.! Rent a computer per minute from Microsoft? I would sooner rent used toilet paper!

  18. I picked this up from the CNN post:

    “Charging for the various bundles may be by bundle and by duration. For example, the office bundle may be $1.00 [68 pence] per hour, the gaming bundle may be $1.25 per hour and the browsing bundle may be $0.80 per hour. ”

    I am an avid gamer and I normally spend about $3000.00 every 5 years or so on a new system which works out to about $600.00/year up front cost. Now let’s put the above model to action shall we?

    If I was on ONLY 40 hours a week for a full year then this would be about 2080 hours. Now factor in the “usage fee” of $1.25 and this shows my yearly cost of about $2600.00/year.

    If I was on ONLY 50 hours a week this would work out to about $3250.00/year.

    If I was on ONLY 60 hours a week this would work out to about $3900.00/year.

    Hmm.. lets see now… pay up front my $600.00 per year over a 5 year time frame and have my computer free and clear to use anytime I wish OR pay $2600 – $3900 PER YEAR AS LONG AS I ONE THE COMPUTER. Depending on use naturally.

    That is if I only count in my on-line gaming. What if I wanted to surf the net, email or do some other activities?

    Which would you choose?

  19. @Phil
    MS did “lease” its software earlier this year. Equipt was offered for a very short time from MS. You got Office Home and Student and MS One for $69 for a year subscription. You got licenses for three computers. You could only but it from Circuit City. You were entitled to all upgrades to both Office and One as long as you maintained your subscription. If a new version was released you got that for the subscription.

    MS launched this program in August and killed it in December.

  20. Wow, I know times are tough, but what a back handed way to try to make more money. Hopefully the market will once again kill the hourly charge plan like it did back when AOL was doing it. The only way this thing will catch on and take over is if all the computer makers get on the same page and agree to create these types of computers (unfortunately this is called a cartel). Otherwise, people will just walk away from the “by minute” models and just pick up the one time payment computers only. Didn’t Microsoft just try a few years ago to come up with a way to charge you for every email you send?

    Want to kill this? Boycot all microsoft related sites/products like Hotmail, MSNBC, Windows Explorer, and spread the word about this scheme.

  21. CELLULAR PC – this reminds me of cell phones you get for cheap or free and then get a $400 phone bill every month. No one would SIGN UP for a plan like that – but all the little extras keep adding up. That’s what this is going to be about – and may just work. Who would have thought we would be paying MORE for phone service in the Brave New World? MS will lure you in with promises of ‘managed’ systems for cheap or free – get you locked into online apps and storage – then bleed you Nickel and Dime to death.

  22. Umm, file this under “The dumbest business plan ever hatched” It sounds likes nothing more than a PC grafted to a cell phone plan.

    What a crock of crap, yet another attempt for M$ to bleed consumers of as much cash as possible. Of course it would come with all kinds of fees and “one time” charges.

    Jeez, I’m glad I don’t use ANY micro$oft products, they’d probably figure a way to charge me for what I already had…

  23. This would be stupid for Microsoft, because, about two weeks after the computer came out, some one would hack the monitiring software and simply not pay. programs would spread over the internet like fire on a dry prairie, and Microsoft would be left in the red. no software is non hackable people. even the toughest encryption can be broken

  24. I agree that this is a very dumb idea. This is like letting a laundrymat owner put his washer & dryers in your house & you pay to wash your clothes at your own house instead of going to the laundrymat.

    There are some real geeks @ MS who think this stupid idea will work.

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