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Microsoft contemplating pay-per-use PC model?

updated 11:55 am EST, Mon December 29, 2008

Pay-per-use PCs coming?

Microsoft may be experimenting with the idea of selling PCs in the same way as cellphones are currently sold, patent filings suggest. A recently-published patent application proposes selling "standard model" PCs at a significant discount, with the rest of the price being subsidized by an unspecified part of the supply chain. The real cost would be shifted into a usage contract, determining how long a person would have to use their machine.

Microsoft admits that a subscription PC would thus be more expensive than a regular one, but argues that the tradeoff would be a longer "useful life" made possible by access to cheaper high-end hardware. A more unusual aspect of the patent is that costs could be linked to the actual usage of hardware and software; running database applications or choosing faster graphics performance, for instance, could raise the price of a subscription.

Buyers might alternately be asked to pick from general packages, such as office, gaming or browsing bundles, each with a different hourly rate; expanding functionality would require switching to a new package. Controlling a person's ability to use their computer would be a new security module, locking a PC to a given supplier, while also restricting functionality.

by MacNN Staff



  1. scotte75ky

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What a jokE!!!

  1. Rolando_jose

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I can rent a PC for 700 bucks a year or buy one for 400. And lets be realistic, how many single users (non-professional) really buy software?

  1. Monstermind

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Count me out.

  1. howiethemacguy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What idiot would commit to something like this? We're already taking it up the a** from wireless carriers. Why would we want to take it from Micro$oft?

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    unfunny joke

    How are computers used today?

    90% web-based.
    50% idle time.

    How inexpensive are computers used for such tasks? $500.

    Who is going to pay a fee so they can have a free computer? Isn't cable and DSL bad enough?

    Ain't going to fly.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The real question is "How in the h*** can you patent this?" Wouldn't cell contracts be 'prior art'?

    And, howie, there are many idiots who would commit to something like this. As you point out, most cell phone users already do this when buying subsidized phones. Some might say "Hey, why not buy a subsidized PC with a 2 year cable internet service agreement? I'm planning on getting the cable anyway!"

    But keep in mind this is all a patent filing. It means nothing at all. As others have said over other patent filings, its probably being done because you now patent EVERYTHING just in case.

  1. boris_cleto

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Renting Music

    M$ is the company that insists you want to rent all your music. So obviously you would want to rent your software as well.

  1. ibugv4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is like car leasing

    Last time I checked, people still leased cars instead of buying them --- dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    people use rent-to-own

    i knew a girl who was renting her computer from a rental place. $100 a month for a $400 computer, one year to own it. 3X the cost of buying it outright, but the impatient stupid woman, couldn't wait four months to get a computer and just save. I'm sure microsoft is counting on idiots like here.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I can actually see this working in a business model, as a means of keeping hardware up to date. The actual cost of the lease can be written off as a business expense. Also, unlike you buccaneers that steal software (you know who you are), many businesses are required to own software (or risk being ratted out by disgruntled employees).

    IF I actually used windows for anything than verifying that the web sites I designed work on IE 7, I would actually look into the cost/benefits of such an arrangement.

    Also, there was no pricing given.. so the $400/$700 is just a guess. It could just as easily be $50 initial cost, and $300/yr for light usage.

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