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Microsoft Businesses Patents

Microsoft Patent Aims To Curb Obnoxious Employee Behavior 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-cubicle-is-not-soundproof dept.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that a pending Microsoft patent for monitoring workplace behavior would do Dwight Schrute proud. Three Microsoft inventors propose curbing obnoxious workplace habits in an equally obnoxious fashion — using a computer device for monitoring and analyzing workers' interactions over video conferences, telephone, text messages and other forms of digital communication to look for patterns of negative and positive behavior, and assigning behavior scores to employees based on what the system finds. Bad behavior, Microsoft explains, might include wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, cutting off others during conversation, prolonged monologues, and even how one nods one's head in agreement, shakes one's head indicating disagreement, and makes hand gestures."
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Microsoft Patent Aims To Curb Obnoxious Employee Behavior

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  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:32AM (#38097818)
    Sorry Microsoft but your patent has to be denied. I already patented having an annoying boss, if you persist with this you will be hearing from my lawyers.
  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:32AM (#38097820) Homepage Journal

    So M$ is patenting being a dick? Well, they do have Balmer to prove their program theory works...

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:33AM (#38097836)

    "...using a computer device for monitoring and analyzing workers' interactions over video conferences ... Bad behavior, Microsoft explains ... wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting..."

    But how can they tell in a videoconference video if I'm not wearing any pants?

    On another note, years ago I missed the annual staff meeting when I was out sick. One of the topics was dress code. I was called in to the director's office to hear that part as it was deemed important. When he got into specifics, he said, "no printed t-shirts with inappropriate expressions on them, no open-toed shoes, no thongs." I replied, "No thongs? But how can they tell?!" He thought for a minute, and once it clicked, his face turned white as a sheet as he burst out, "FLIP FLOPS! No Flip flops!"

    It's funny to make a PHB turn white as a sheet...

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:34AM (#38097862)

    Only if the face is all black except for a little bit of white around the mouth... That could get you sent to sensitivity training...

  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:35AM (#38097874) Homepage

    that if anyone complains of my obnoxious behavior, I can cite them for violating Microsoft's patent claims. Microsoft, can I please get a license?

  • So then.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:35AM (#38097876) Homepage

    Flipping off the boss as he leaves the room, playing angry birds during the meeting, or putting the phone conference on mute and ignoring it completely while we talk about random crap is ok then? the detector is not flagging those.

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:36AM (#38097890)

    He doesn't really work there anymore...

    The world turned upside-down when dearly-beloved Steve Jobs started locking down hardware to prevent any non-Apple-Approved changes, and Kommissar Gates went to Africa to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes...

    (with apologies to Jon Stewart)

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:41AM (#38097950) Homepage

    I didn't realize Gene Simmons posted on Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:43AM (#38097976)

    There's this fit female coworker who wears g-strings and low waist trousers. Sometimes you can see the string over her trouser when she bends to pick up something from the floor. Nobody has complained............

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:47AM (#38098022)
    These days you patent the idea, not how to do it. I already have patents on FTL, nuclear fusion, Robotic prostitutes, and teleportation. It doesn't matter that I don't know how to do it I just put 'a method of ________' at the start and then be as vague and no specific as possible and even throw in some buzz words.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:51AM (#38098078) Homepage Journal

    Sorry Microsoft but your patent has to be denied. I already patented having an annoying boss, if you persist with this you will be hearing from my lawyers.

    They're claiming a patent on firing employees for insubordination. Dang. I knew I should have filed for that one.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:54AM (#38098126) Journal
    Like most famous inventions, the exact moment this invention happened has been very accurately recorded. It was exactly on the day a top sidekick of Ballmer decided to quit Microsoft to join Google. The CEO discovered the ballistic properties of office furniture and how effectively they can be projected to affect employee behavior and give feedback to the employees about the management's attitude towards them. But it was not a simple joy ride to the patent office. Much more serious development and testing took place. Tables were too heavy. Paperweights were too ineffectual. After a decade of hard work, the invention has paid off and now Microsoft has obtained a patent "for a tool that can give feedback to the employee about their actions and behavior which can also be sat upon to work when not used in that capacity."
  • by CPTreese (2114124) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:54AM (#38098136) Journal

    The Army may like meetings and PowerPoint too much, but at least everyone wore the same damn thing and swearing at each other was considered an art form.

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:55AM (#38098142)

    I certainly hope that they use this video [youtube.com] to train the software.

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:56AM (#38098164)

    I just hope that the mute button works... Apparently my wife was once in one where it didn't, and their team's bursts of laughter at the incompetent statements were not well received by those making them...

  • Eh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:57AM (#38098172) Homepage

    Is it just me that thinks that corporate influence has turned everyone into automated drones and actually feels quite relieved when the person on the other end of the line seems human? When you can joke about their products, when they curse the system in front of you, when they basically say "Yeah, but the guy who dealt with you before was an idiot, sorry." even if it's just with a gesture?

    My boss regularly rings one of our suppliers for goods and they often chit-chat among themselves - he often works himself out a good discount while he's there, but that's how he operates - and it makes them seem altogether more understanding when you DO have a real problem rather than someone following a flowchart. They're also much more likely to get our custom than some robot who can't be made to smile, budge on price, or anything else that doesn't toe the company line EVEN IF they are more expensive than others.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:57AM (#38098184)

    So M$ is patenting being a dick? Well, they do have Balmer to prove their program theory works...

    They are patenting a mechanism that uses AI to detect when you are behaving like a dick. Hook this thing up to a electric shocker built into to a collar fitted around every employee's neck and the possibilities are endless. Every time you criticize management, badmouth some oligarch, gaze too long in the general direction of a female coworker's posterior or simply engage in a combination of seemingly unrelated behaviors that trigger a match in this gizmo and tzzzzzzzzzt.........

  • by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rick@g m a il.com> on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:59AM (#38098208)
    I tried to patent "The beatings will continue until morale improves." But Microsoft beat me to it.
  • by fortapocalypse (1231686) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:01AM (#38098224)
    Security camera footage + Kinect technology + massive computational power and behavioral logic = "JETSON!!!!!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:17AM (#38098448)

    No, there's an Easter Egg -- each piece of furniture launched over 5 feet gets you +1000 behavior points.

  • Prior art (Score:2, Funny)

    by sorak (246725) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:18AM (#38098456)

    A patent on a device that tells you how to dress, how to talk, and how to carry yourself in public? I already have one.

    I'm married.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:33AM (#38098664)

    Mute button stories are comedy gold sometimes. I just tell people to make sure the light is lit or the phone actually is in mute.

    An example of this is when I worked in an internal IT department at a SMB. Someone called up from the field, got a cow-orker and she muted the phone (so she thought), then yelled, "Argh, I should just hang up on this guy. Anyone want to take him and put him on speaker so I can have a shot of Jaegermeister and snicker at him?" I took the call. Next thing the guy on the other phone asked: "Mind if I have a swig of Jaeger if any is left?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:51AM (#38098904)

    The Borg Gates would have been more apt.

    Your reply has been deemed obnoxious by our scanning software.

    -Microsoft.

  • by jackbird (721605) on Friday November 18, 2011 @01:13PM (#38100134)

    Goldman Sachs.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 18, 2011 @01:40PM (#38100510) Journal

    Hell, at a previous job, we used to have a rubber chicken hanging (via a proper hangman's noose made of scrap cat5 cable) from a cable tray in the main server room. Stayed there for nearly a year until the Head of IT finally arsed himself to walk into the place. He went predictably ballistic, but the week after we took it down, we started seeing a large group of drive failures in the SAN that the thing hung next to.

    Speaking of the original article, I wonder what they would use to detect a refrigerator hidden in an unused rack? It had an old tape library fascia taped to the inside of the mesh door, and a shelf immediately above it as camouflage. We kept our lunches in there after a rash of food thefts from the main employee fridges.

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