updated 07:40 pm EST, Thu November 12, 2009
Tech used to elevate user rights
The USPTO recently granted Microsoft a patent, No. 7,617,530, which describes a method for running a command as an administrator. The filing has sparked outrage by many, including Groklaw blogger Pamela Jones, who believe the company has simply rebranded the sudo Unix command developed in the 1980s by members of the Computer Science department at SUNY/Buffalo.
The "rights elevator" patent covers "systems and/or methods... that enable a user to elevate his or her rights." Microsoft focuses on an embodiment utilizing a graphic user interface presented when the current account lacks the proper privileges for an operation. The interface then identifies accounts that have administrative privileges required for certain tasks.
The patent terms have lead to speculation that Microsoft may be attempting to receive licensing revenue from companies utilizing forms of sudo in their operating systems. The technology is currently integrated into GNU/Linux systems and Mac OS X.
Others argue that, while the patent includes sudo references, it is actually based on the graphic interface which only pops up after the user attempts to perform a task outside of their account's rights. Similar systems, however, are common to most operating systems.