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MS Seeks Patent For Repossessing School Computers 299

Posted by kdawson
from the what-were-they-thinking dept.
theodp writes "Microsoft has applied for a patent for 'securely providing advertising subsidized computer usage.' The application describes how face-recognition webcams and CAPTCHAs can be used in schools to ensure that computer users are paying attention to ads, and the recourse of 'disabling or even repossessing the computer' if they are not."
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MS Seeks Patent For Repossessing School Computers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:14PM (#17968436)
    Typical Slashdot garbage, the headline misrepresents the content of the story.
  • um, no? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by monkikuso (1062016)
    I use plugins that disable ads. Why the hell would anyone want to use this? I can see this going nowhere pretty effing fast.
    • Re:um, no? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MiKM (752717) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:17PM (#17968466)
      Did you even read the patent? This is for situations where a company gives a person a computer for free in exchange for looking at their ads. This isn't going to be a standard feature in Windows / something end-users install.
      • Re:um, no? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:48PM (#17968734)

        This isn't going to be a standard feature in Windows / something end-users install.


        You forgot the word "yet" on the end of that sentence.

        This post brought to you by Scope mouthwash.

        • by msobkow (48369)

          Consider determining whether students are paying attention to the course material, or the chat window they popped up...

          After all, I've yet to see a school-provided "secure" computer that wasn't cracked by one or more students within a month. The crackers are always able to get through any reasonable security measures, including innocuous password cracker disks, booting from another image to install banned software, etc.

          The only "secure" systems I've actually seen forced a weekly image down the throat

      • Re:um, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mfh (56) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:17AM (#17968926) Journal
        The problem I have is that this is a whole other spin on 1984. If the local school board, for example, gets free computers, but in exchange for their free computers, students are forced to look at advertising, or lose the computers, then a conflict of interest triangle exists between the schools, Microsoft and the student body.

        Teachers are supposed to be teaching a fair and objective view of history. Microsoft is supposed to be making money any way possible, like any good organization. Students are supposed to be thwarting any possible system to the bitter end.

        So the students whip out the same magic marker they used to thwart the CD DRMs of yonder age, and they mark the cams so that MS thinks they are using them.

        I hate Microsoft, and now it's official. I was actually on the fence prior to this Slashdot article. Now my mind is made up! ;-)

        Thanks Slashdot!
        • Re:um, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @05:58AM (#17970870) Journal

          If there is a new low, lower than forcing kid at school looking at ads, which is an obvious example of brainwashing, it is currently unimaginable to me.

          On one hand, we have Micosoft with this technology; on the other, my professor in semiotics and semantics is trying to ban all the ads from our college, including the free newspaper stand (on account of too many ads in the free newspapers).

          Now, I don't really agree with that professor, though I do mind the amount of ads, because we live in the information age (or so we can hear it repeated over and over again) and we have to learn how to deal with ads and other junk information... and one of the ways of dealing with it is bloody ignoring it; I, for one, am most of the time only aware that yes, there was an ad on that page, but I haven't the foggiest as to what for...
          However, forcing users to look at ads, especially schoolchildren, is forcing unwanted information down their throats. Well, eyes, actually, but you see my point.

          I'm disgusted.

          And I welcome any way to subvert such technologies.

        • You have a slashdot account number consisting of 2 digits and only now have you made your mind up?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rbanffy (584143)

          Microsoft is supposed to be making money any way possible, like any good organization.

          Pardon me, but there are possible ways that are also illegal ones.

        • Illegal in europe (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DrYak (748999)
          This exact practice - i.e.: forcing ads on students - is illegal inpublic education in several european countries.
          In France, public schools aren't allowed to give material "sponsorized by [whatever]" to students.
          It hasn't been enforced very well up until now, but MS-Computers that force kids to watch adds is sure to stir up enough noise in the media to attract attention.

          One more of those Microsoft's stupid moves that encourage people to pursue the migration to OSS that is already very active in EU.

          (insert r
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Digital Vomit (891734)

          Microsoft is supposed to be making money any way possible, like any good organization.

          Assuming you meant "corporation" and not "organization", I have to disagree with your assertion. The primary responsibility of any corporation is serving the society which granted it its existence via its corporate charter. Making money is secondary to that. The problem in our society today is that most people forget the first part because the enforcers of the law are either spineless or bribed into never revoking corpo

      • Re:um, no? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Flexagon (740643) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:58AM (#17969192)

        Did you even read the patent?

        Yes, I did. It refers in part to a common owner, for example, a business or school [emphasis mine].

        [From the grandparent] Why ... would anyone want to use this?

        Schools that believe they are strapped for cash do. Several years ago, our kids got McDonald's ads disguised as class exercises. For example, if you buy a Big Mac and fries for such and such prices, what is the total? All illustrated with logos and characters. Teachers would remove the sheets from a child's curriculum upon request, but despite ongoing complaints, administrators ignored the general problem until Consumer Reports reported the practice. There have also been subsidized soft drink machines and TV. They will keep trying and we must continue to object.

        • by Korin43 (881732)
          My school was paid to have pop machines, but I don't consider it to be on the same level as this. The school was paid to have pop machines, not to say anything good about Coke. In fact, the teachers/administrators frequently said things like "Don't you know that that's bad for you?"
    • by Irvu (248207) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:47AM (#17970106)
      We've already seen cash-strapped schools include video advertisements disguised as "Current Affairs". Other schools have formed deals with Pepsi and Coke that require them to consume so much per week in order to maintain the support for school lunches (yes the students do get fat). So yes, I could definitely see a cash-strapped school taking a sweetheart deal with Microsoft to get modern machines provided their students watch so much web advertising. Such things are typically welcomed by people who want to cut taxes and "Run Schools Like a Business".

      After all, as long as taxes are lowered who cares?
      • by fourchannel (946359) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @09:54AM (#17971814) Homepage
        Not directed at you, but I fucking care.

        If we treat education like some service, optional, profitable, exploitable, then we will eventually get degredation over time, and the quality of education will drop. With that, the investment in the school will drop, and what do you know, education fucking drops some more.

        Education is the only thing (technology is derived from the knowledge education provides), that separates our society from those of the primative past. If we treat education as anything but the highest concern, then we have failed our ancestors to learn from the past and prevent the problems of the past from manifesting now.

        So, yes I fucking care.

        BTW, I was ranting, but I'm not mad at the parent or anyone in particular.

  • Ja? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:14PM (#17968442)
    you vill look at ze ads und you vill vant to punch out ze celebrity? ja?
  • Oh yay. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by numbski (515011) * <numbskiNO@SPAMhksilver.net> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:15PM (#17968444) Homepage Journal
    Look at our ads or else. Adblock, Flashblock, and NoScript? No problem! We'll just keep track and take the computer away.

    Sheesh. I guess that's what happens when you don't own the hardware. Although I swear I keep expecting that one of these days I'm going to open the box for a mainboard, have to cut some tape to get the box open, and find a note inside that reads:

    End User License Agreement
    By opening this box you agree to the terms of this agreement... ...if you don't look at our ads, we can reposess this board...

    I'm in a bad mood today. :(
    • by dsanfte (443781) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:33PM (#17968626) Journal
      As long as hardware specs remain open, that won't happen, but our current open marketplace is under threat from ideas like (nearly) mandatory driver signing in Vista (if you want the content), and DRM. Their purpose is to restrict the openness of the PC architecture.

      The PC marketplace happened nearly by accident, through what would today be called hardware piracy by OEMs seeking to undercut IBM's monopoly over the PC architecture. You know the history, I'm sure.

      The best innovation happens when engineers are free to innovate and motivated to do so. DRM, driver signing, authentication, keys, patents, licenses... these are all hinderences, concessions made to preserving the status quo, to protecting Big Money. The grey market drove the PC revolution, the little guys. Now the people who benefitted from that want to become and stay some sort of new IBM by controlling the architecture through crypto. The irony is palpable.

      The crackers, the hardware hackers, they are today's heroes, as much as the IBMBIOS revengineers were way back when. They keep the wildcards in play, the market free. Vista touts security... it's not just security from worms, or viruses they're aiming for, it's security for Microsoft against the crackers that keep the playing field open, and the DRM behemoth at bay.
      • by Hennell (1005107)
        >Now the people who benefitted from that want to become and stay some sort of new IBM by controlling the architecture through crypto.

        But that's just obvious. If you were a 'little guy' who took over/became the new 'big guy' you'd be extra aware of the vulnerabilities of your position, and would take major care to secure it. You'd know first hand how you got where you were and what you exploited, and would make sure that it doesn't happen to you, but you protected if it does.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "DRM, driver signing, authentication, keys, patents, licenses... these are all hinderences, concessions made to preserving the status quo, to protecting Big Money."

        Sez you! [wayne.edu]
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dreez (609508)
        Actually you really have a real and good point here. As long as the specs are open, anyone with some knowledge is able to generate a driver/decoder/whatever of the same quality that a certain big company is. .
        However, if the specs are not open, the driver/decoder/whatever will never be as good because you just don't know all the details, it will allways lag behind the big company's driver, every little change in the big company's driver will need to be reverse engineered again to see what it all was about
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:15PM (#17968446)

    who can't afford a 100-200$ computer ? what are you going to sell them ?

    of course the solution is simple in regard to children, simply forbid advertising of any kind that is directly targeted at a minor

    people who prey or exploit kids need help, 9mm help
    • by patio11 (857072) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:32PM (#17968622)
      >>
      who can't afford a 100-200$ computer ? what are you going to sell them ?
      >>

      Based on a quick survey of any block of inner city America, that would probably be liquor, cigarettes, payday loans, and basic necessities. I'd hate to live in that sort of neighborhood, but giving the choice between living there with a computer and living there without, hey, I already have to pass liquor advertising on the way to work. If I see a little more in the privacy of my own home while studying to find a job to Get The Heck Outta Here that won't kill me.

      >>
      simply forbid advertising of any kind that is directly targeted at a minor
      >>

      Why not just take away kid's right to buy things. Its much simpler to enforce than figuring whether that advertising is directly targeted or not (c.f. Joe Camel, WWF-anything, or Cartoon Network -- the intersection of things which interest adults and kids alike is pretty wide), accomplishes the same objective, and could also be enforced with 9mm help. Of course, we'd think you were a crazy Communist nutball if you suggested it, but thats only because commerce is a perfectly legitimate thing and that children, have real (if qualified) rights to engage in commerce in the same manner that they have real (if qualified) rights to engage in speech. Oh noes, someone might try to influence the opinions they speak or influence what products they purchase! Well, great news, we have these things called "parents", who have vastly more influence and can deprive the child of this thing called "money" without which advertising is pretty much impotent.
    • by daeg (828071)
      What do you sell someone who can't afford a computer and has to get a computer laced with horrible ads? You sell them a computer without horrible ads, of course.

      "WANT TO HAVE A COMPUTER WITHOUT ADS? CLICK HERE!"

      Even worse (for the low income people) is that it will quickly (d)evolve into them paying per day/week/month for "ad-less" computing, and over a very short period of time, they will have paid more for ad-less computing.

      On the possible plus side, it may get computers into homes where there wouldn't tr
    • by jurt1235 (834677)
      If the school cant afford it, what is the chance that the kids forced to watch the ads can afford the product? The concept is flawed to start with. They should force the kid to write ten lines of sourcecode for every hour they use the system. That would gain them something (Like less buggy software to start with).
  • Why would a company create something to enforce students to watch ads and not learn.... Yea, that makes perfect sense when most children these days don't have the funds to buy at pizza if they wanted to.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EvanED (569694)
      The headline and summary are somewhat stupid for this story.

      The patent mentions "school" exactly once, and is using it to just provide an example as to where it could be used. ("The policy may be directed to a single computer and thereby a single user or subscriber. Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.")
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Derek Loev (1050412)
      It is obvious that nobody is reading the article.
      The summary adds sooo much stuff that the patent barely hints at.
      Just because it's labeled Microsoft doesn't mean it is ALWAYS bad.
    • The Slashdot summary is complete alarmist hyperbole. To quote, "When the allowable number of incorrect answers has been exceeded, several response are possible, from noting a user's record but taking no action, to a follow up communication with the user, to disabling or even repossessing the computer 110. The policy may be directed to a single computer and thereby a single user or subscriber. Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a bu
    • by node 3 (115640)

      Why would a company create something to enforce students to watch ads and not learn....

      Money. Duh.

      Even if Corporation A takes the high road and chooses not to exploit children, it's only a matter of time before Corporation B does, becomes more competitive, and forces Corp. A into a position where they must also consider exploiting children.

      Capitalism has its upsides, this is one of its downsides.

      Yea, that makes perfect sense when most children these days don't have the funds to buy at pizza if they wanted to.

      "Daddy! I want to go to McDonalds!"

      "Mommy, I *need* Pokemon now!!!"

      (10 years later)

      "I don't know why, but I *really* want to try Camel cigarettes."

      If you don't think advertisers target children, you

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Why would a company create something to enforce students to watch ads and not learn....

      But they are learning. About the glorious company that is Microsoft! Now, comrades! Let us play the Microsoft National Anthem.

      [starts playing special approved version of Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" with symphonic accompaniment]

  • Timely? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ixne (599904) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:17PM (#17968464)
    This patent application was filed at the end of 2005... why is it just now coming up?
    • This patent application was filed at the end of 2005... why is it just now coming up?
      It may have just attracted attention, but the reason for the patent may be less of an issue as the mountain it's made out to be. It could be nothing more than preventing some upstart such as BE/OS or someone else like IBM with OS/2 from providing computers with an advertising revenue stream in competition to the MS stranglehold on the desktop. Maybe they don't want another i-Opener on the market.

      "We have free computers fo
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mavenguy (126559)
      Because it was only published February 8, 2007 ( 4 days prior to this comment ).
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:18PM (#17968478) Journal
    ...ads watch you.
  • Although instead of Microsoft good people should patent all kinds of stupid/evil business ideas to prevent others from inflicting them upon the public.

    RedHat did this idea actually, by patenting a DRM mechanism and vowing not to use it.
  • A diet pepsi costs the following- can you match them up?

    1) $1.00
    2) $1.25
    3) $1.39

    with
    A) Work Vending Machine
    B) School Vending Machine
    C) Grocery Store

    If you said 1-B, 2-A, and 3-C, you're Right!

    What does that mean? Exploit the students. Get them addicted to soda, (We called it 'coke' where I come from and for good reason), profit insanely at their completely disposable income, and they'll continue to provide for you the rest of your corporate career!

    This patent is sickening. Schools currently use IE, but as they switch to ad-blockable content (anything available for IE) then there is SO much profit-potential lost it's absurd.

    We (I and several other individuals) mentor about 30 HS students. It is TRULY amazing how much their minds are like sponges- and how easy it can be to inadvertently modify their behavior. An unkind word, a stern glance, and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with that topic. It's insane. The mentors themselves end up having to walk this twisted line of professional dedication (our backgrounds) and playing psychologist ("How does that make you feel").

    Let's face it- the whole point of this is about money, and cash is king. The brains are just too wired for this behaviour (Nestle's Chocobot hour) to be anything but profitable thru very specific programming.

    They'll get the patent..... and it'll be up to us to fight the intrusion into the school. Here's a hint- it'll be over a decade, nice and slow, thru 'gifts' of OS and computers...
    • You need to find another grocery store.

    • Sorry, but no.
      Pop (at least here) is most expensive in schools and on college campuses. A 12oz. can goes for between $.60 and $.80. The same [brand name] can costs $.20 in a 12-pack at the grocery on sale, which they are on every other week.

      It's nice to be able to blame readily available products, but there are other influences.
      Violence can be just as addictive as sugary foods and caffeine. At my university there are plenty of assholes, and plenty of loose chairs. Have I ever beaten anyone with a chair? Nop
      • by zakezuke (229119)
        Pop (at least here) is most expensive in schools and on college campuses. A 12oz. can goes for between $.60 and $.80. The same [brand name] can costs $.20 in a 12-pack at the grocery on sale, which they are on every other week.

        Actually, his price scale was accurate if talking about a mini-mart, chilled. The mini-mart price of soda tends to be about the same as supermarket 2 liter unchilled.

        Grocery stores tend to have the big names on sale. Any non-big brand tends to go for full price, which can float at a
      • by node 3 (115640)

        Some people teach their children about things called CONSEQUENCES to their actions, and that is a Good Thing(tm).

        And advertisers do their best to undermine your teaching.

        What kind of parent are you that you'd think it's perfectly fine for you to have your best parenting efforts being actively countered by monied interests who have absolutely no concern whatsoever for the welfare of your children? Parenting is hard enough as it is *without* having to worry about addictive substances with no redeeming value, and, in fact, unwanted negative effects, being shoved in their faces?

        Would you be fine with a crack[*] dealer se

  • Let see how far M$ can get with trying to repossess State Property.
    How many school would even sign up for this? I did read about some thing like this a few years ago in pcworld and it said that the school could not install any software and they had to open up the lab to the people who gave them the computers for there own uses. It also used SAT internet. I think it was called zapme or something like that.
    • How many school would even sign up for this?

      Many here will remember Whittle Communications.

      Whittle's specialty was marketing to the captive audience.

      Familiar magazines disappeared from your doctor's waiting room to be replaced by Whittle's glossy, content-free substitutes. Whittle was never subtle. It was all or nothing.

      Schools were offered free sattelite dishes, educational programming, VCRs, and other high-tech goodies.

      In exchange, students would be required to watch the twelve minute commercial Chan [wikipedia.org]

  • by chromozone (847904) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:21PM (#17968504)
    Maybe they want to patent it so that nobody else can. I can't see M$ wanting to see something like this in use under their name. I can't see Microsoft wanting anybody to use this sort of thing. Talk about an incentive to get Linux - sheesh.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tpno[ ].org ['-co' in gap]> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:25PM (#17968552) Homepage
    I hate it when our politicians do it, and I hate it just as much when you do it.

    The summary ( and link ) say nothing about schools. Putting that in the title is egging for a flame war. It makes you ( the submitter and editor ) look like an idiot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stubear (130454)
      welcome to Slashdot. This is par for the course.
    • The summary ( and link ) say nothing about schools.

      Excuse me? How about:

      Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.
      Putting that in the title is egging for a flame war. It makes you look like an idiot.

      Coming from the "Germans love David Hasselhod" sig guy, that's rich.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HiThere (15173)
      Check the linked patent then. It specifically mentions schools as a target (though, admittedly, it doesn't highlight them).

      FWIW, *DON'T* read the patent if you're a programmer. Reading patents on software can lay you open to increased fines. I just did a find on schools, and it specifically mentions schools as a target for the patent. I can't claim to know what the patent covers, since I intentionally didn't read it.
    • Further, these are only going to be used by institutions or people that can't afford computers in the first place. Which is worse, ad supported computers or no computers?

      This is about as distorted and inflammatory as it gets.
  • Microsoft: We're the Douchiest!
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:37PM (#17968674)
    Wire up the chair and every time they look away give them a shock.
    • The Pavlov method would feed them every time a bell sounded, and it would get messy because there would be drool everywhere. More like a preschool than a grade school. You're thinking of the Milgram method, but for accuracy you'd have the kids shock each other when a teacher told them to. Also in the bag o' tricks is the Zimbardo method, which they get to use when they grow up, join the Army, and work in a secret prison in Iraq.
  • by joe_cot (1011355) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:40PM (#17968690) Homepage
    This happens time and time again on Slashdot: the article title and summary mislead us into believing something the article doesn't even mean, or the article is misleading and sensationalist itself, and no one bothers to confirm its accusations before putting it on the front page for thousands to see. Time and time again we're tricked into taking a stand [slashdot.org], and then look like idiots later [slashdot.org].

    Just because it's about Microsoft, doesn't mean you have to buy it. Sure, you want to believe it; I want to believe it. But if the trick works on us now, it'll be used in the future, to position you against issues you would stand for otherwise. One of the noblest actions a man can take is not take a public stand against something he knows nothing about. Don't comment on this until you RTFA.
  • I cant see this affecting schools...I just read the patent and it says that they are "giving some service or software at a reduced cost or free in exchange for mandatory ad viewing and feedback" Net zero and PeoplePC built companies that ultimately failed on similar logic. (Net Zero restructured and now sells $9.99 dial up now)

    It boils down to this: no commercial product or service is free...either pay in cash or in time/privacy/inconvenience. Of cource, you do not NEED windows and MS office, Linux and Mac
  • by pluther (647209) <pluther @ u sa.net> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:58PM (#17968790) Homepage
    Somebody at Microsoft didn't understand what somebody else was doing...

    The whole reason for Microsoft giving free computers to schools in the first place was to get them used to the Windows OS, and hopefully prevent them from wanting to switch to Linux. It wasn't supposed to be just a short-term revenue stream.

    If they actually use this, schools will start saying no thanks to their "free" computers - which will, in the long term, be a serious blow to Microsoft.

    • by tftp (111690)
      Gates's Microsoft and Ballmer's Microsoft are two different companies. Just look at Office 2007 and Vista, so [unpleasantly] different they are from the previous releases. In this light it is possible that the modern MS is done with free education, and is going in for the money.
  • Excellent patent! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swordgeek (112599) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:00AM (#17968802) Journal
    Fascinating stuff. This is pretty clearly evil and dangerous behaviour, at least from a cursory glance at the application. However, it
    • is
    actually fairly innovative and unique. Now to the best of my knowledge, patents aren't supposed to be concerned with the morality of the application, but the originality and non-obviousness of it.

    Microsoft should be hung out to dry for this, but from a patent aspect, it's valid.
  • I hope those webcams catch me flipping Bill G the middle finger.
  • I thought of this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by David_Shultz (750615) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:07AM (#17968866)
    I thought of this very system over three years ago, although it wasn't for the nefarious purpose of forcing school children to watch targetted ads. The idea actually was to set up a system whereby internet users could sit down, and watch ads for a few minutes to earn some money (sell your time). Obviously I take let's say 2% of what they get. I needed a way to check if the user was actually watching the ads, and the system sounds remarkably what MS guys were able to come up with. I didn't have the time to set up the site.

    This situation to me highlights some of the annoying aspects of patents. First, if I had billions of dollars of cash lying around, I would have this patent (would've applied without a second thought). How then, is this system helping individual innovators rather than big corporations? Second, isn't it clear that the patent system isn't promoting R and D in this particular case?

    On the plus side, I do believe a site has recently popped up that does what I wanted to do, and they probably have implemented a comparable system. Therefore, MS might lose this patent on the grounds of prior art, which is a plus.

    Also, I wonder whether MS intends to charge for the webcams being provided, since they are required for the face tracking, but the schools might not (and probably don't) want them.
  • The computers repossessed you!
  • Great.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by LilGuy (150110) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:38AM (#17969044)
    I just burned all my mod points on my last slashdot visit on stupid stories. Figures something good is posted right afterward.
  • From the Article:

    "A method and apparatus for assuring delivery of paid advertising to a user may involve asking a question about an advertisement or requiring data about the advertisement to be entered."

    So now the ad providers quiz you and the teachers?
  • Anyone using a a MS computer, should have it reposessed.
  • Everybody is concentrating on how offensive this is, but there is another issue. Isn't this all perfectly obvious? How can this be patentable? Finding out if people are paying attention by quizzing them on what they were supposed to be watching is an old schoolteacher trick. As far as I can see from skimming the patent application there is nothing remotely innovative in the technology they use to do this.

  • by demo9orgon (156675) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:08AM (#17969270) Homepage
    Microsoft is giving us more valid reasons to successfully argue that they have no place in the classroom.

    They're making is very clear that they are achieving the kind of critical mass where they will act with impunity.

    It isn't enough that they make an OS that exploits people at home, now they're seeking to patent a way to enforce it on students.

    So how long before this kind of thinking migrates to television?

    "We're sorry _Survivor_ is withheld for (countdown)min. until the next commercial break because you muted three or more commercials. In order to ensure an uninterrupted broadcast you must maintain at least a 25 db. audio output and not avoid the screen. Thank you."

    Or better yet,
    Ben checks his online bills and sees a slightly larger cable bill.
    "Hey, honey. Why is the cable bill $20 more...oh crap, it says there's a fee for _Subsidy-Avoidance_ WTF is that?"
    "Remember when I told you that if we removed that feedback box they'd tag on a fee?"
    "I don't get it..." He scratches his head and looks at the TV.
    "Remember how our subscription rates for Office went up because we didn't agree to run an ad validator? It's the same thing." She says as Ben looks for something to kick and starts wondering where he put that extra cable box.

    At least they aren't trying to tell us that this will keep us safe...yet.
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      They're making is very clear that they are achieving the kind of critical mass where they will act with impunity.

      Please. They are doing no such thing. They're not talking about randomly disabling peoples' operating systems or something. This is about a situation where somebody agrees to get a free (or, perhaps largely discounted) computer in exchange for watching ads. The catch is that they can't just say "oh, sure!" and laugh their asses off while they don't watch squat, because of the system Microso

  • Back when I was a whippersnapper, we had these crazy things called "quizzes." The teacher would show us some information, and then later on we'd have to answer questions about it, just to be sure we'd understood it.

    Of course, when my teachers did it, the point was to teach me stuff that would be useful later on. Like being able to spell words so I don't sound like an idiot, or add up numbers reliably. With this, the point is to boost some corporation's profit margin by pushing products on impressionable
  • What does this patent, which is actually a clever way to get subsidized computers into underprivledged areas, have to do with schools?

    The patent only mentions "school" once, in the context that it can be used "at a business or school".

    So if a location opts to install ad-funded computers, then what's so wrong with that?
  • by Garabito (720521) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:18AM (#17969328)
    Skinner: We can buy =real= periodic tables instead of these promotional ones from Oscar Meyer.
    Krabappel: Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?
    Martin: Ooh ... delicious?
    Krabappel: Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.
  • by Americano (920576) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:20AM (#17969332)
    This is a stupid heading, and a stupid summary. The point of the patent is not, as the headline indicates, to "patent a method for repossessing school computers." The point of the patent is to provide a method for validating that users are actually paying attention to the advertisements that are being displayed. The terms "school" and "repossess" each appear once in the patent application:

    • [ . . . ] several response are possible, from noting a user's record but taking no action, to a follow up communication with the user, to disabling or even repossessing the computer.[ . . . ]
    • [ . . . ] Alternately, the policy may extend to a group of computers and correspondingly to a common owner, for example, a business or school.[ . . . ]
    Shame on you, submitter & editor. This is NOTHING but sensationalism. The notion of "repossessing" the computer is used as an example of a step that could be taken if the advertising is not being paid attention to. Since the terminal is financed by that advertising, it would make sense to stop paying for it and take it back for redeployment elsewhere. If I'm an advertiser, I'd prefer not to keep paying for a billboard that nobody pays attention to.

    The notion of these computers being used by a school is used as an example where the patent discusses tying certain criteria to multiple computers owned by a common owner, "for example," a business or school. So, say you provide some of these adveritising-funded public terminals to an organization, such as a business or school, what you're doing is tying the policy for multiple systems to a common owner.

    But the summary & title make it sound like MSFT is targeting school computers as if they could just swoop in, snatch them all up, and resell them on the black market. This is one of the lamest attempts at MSFT-bashing I've seen. Bash them if you must, but for god's sake, bash them for something that's actually a REAL issue, not this crap. What's next? "MSFT submits patent for punching babies, snapping bra straps of young mothers?!"?

    I'd say I expect better of the editors, at least, but well... it IS slashdot.
    • by alexhs (877055)
      But it already exists [quividi.com]. So how does MS patent about a vaporware of them compares to an already working solution ?
      BTW it is fairly recent (patent pending [quividi.com]) so I can understand that MS is genuinely unaware of prior art from a small business.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AlbionTourgee (918996)
      I do so agree! The patent isn't limited to schools. The compelled viewing of ads could be done in the school, in the workplace, in the library, and yes, if you design the right equipment, in the home. And, besides, it's not limited to ads for things, either is it? What about political ads both in the narrower sense of ads for candidates and in the larger sense of ads that tell you how to think. And, what about the negative. You could make some kinds of viewing off limits, and then provide the user som
  • To hell with ads. Have hired goons come and beat the money out of you. Saves MS the trouble of marketing, etc.

  • horrifying

  • by manastungare (596862) <manasNO@SPAMtungare.name> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:30AM (#17969730) Homepage
    I always thought Windows machines were already possessed by the Devil.
  • Wow! I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention...
  • It'll never be patented... prior art already exists... I believe you can clearly see it in a "Clockwork Orange".

    Well me lit'le droogies, I thinks it's gonna be a wee bit of the in'n'out in yer frontal lobes, an if ya tries ta stop watchin', we're gonna shock yer yarbles till we smell smoke!

    Genda
  • The USTPO might wish to check this [wikipedia.org] for prior art.
  • Microsoft owes perhaps all of its success to indoctrination (Windows pre-installed in every PC sold), and this is just more of the same, but blatently. We seem to be approaching an age where more OS's will work on more computers (think Mac/Intel), and MS is just preparing for that: a less-profitable but just-as-effective means of getting first dibs on human computer-using habits, as a first-time user and a free OS becomes a paying customer when he's "trained" and its update time. Same method, just added sle
  • Bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Monoliath (738369)
    I think this is a very bad idea.

    1. You're dealing with forcing individuals in their formative years, to look at advertisements which have been pyshologically designed to influence spending / desire.

    2. I'm sure the least amount of effort will be put into controlling the content and reviewing the moral implications of such a system if the patent is granted.

    3. Microsoft is displaying it's bottom line here, which obviously is not about helping out schools who need the help and promoting education, but the fact

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