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Microsoft Patents Windows

Microsoft Patents OS Shutdown 404

An anonymous reader writes "You would think that shutting down software could be fairly simple from an end user's view. If I ask you to shut it down, would you mind shutting it actually down, please? Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, because you need to ask the user if they really want to shut down and if unsaved documents should be saved. And that warrants a patent that also covers Mac OS X. Next time you shut down Windows, remember how complicated it is for Windows to shut down. Perhaps that is the reason why this procedure can take minutes in some cases."
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Microsoft Patents OS Shutdown

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  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:08PM (#33436882)
    One has to wonder if they are also trying to patent the inadvertent "BSOD" shutdowns. They seem much more complex. ;-)
  • Next thing... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ZeRu ( 1486391 )
    I can see someone patenting "Are you sure?" prompt.
    Actually, when I think of it, alot of dumber patents have been accepted.
  • Are they going to patent the process by which you tell Windows to shut down, and it freezes?
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:11PM (#33436924) Homepage Journal
      Or the process where you get halfway through the shutdown, and then it stops for no apparent reason and you have to go and order the shutdown again to get it to finish shutting down.
      • What about the process of getting far enough into the process that you can't do anything, then failing to actually complete the task at hand. Forcing you to then manually turn it off and fix the resulting damage to the filesystem.
      • That's a new form of "are you sure?". We've developed this to make sure the user really means to shut down by making them request it multiple times.

        (patent pending)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by The MAZZTer ( 911996 )
        IIRC "No apparent reason" usually means "an application aborted the shutdown". It's a legitimate feature but apps can of course do it silently (AFAIK it's designed to happen if the user had unsaved work and they click "Cancel" in response to a Save/Don't Save/Cancel dialog.
      • This happens because an application aborts the shutdown. The normal use would be, an user has an open document, the application prompts them to save, don't save and exit, or cancel. If the user clicks cancel, the shutdown needs to be aborted so they can do whatever they needed to do that made them click cancel. Because MS has no means of telling what mechanism an application will use to present this kind of choice (or if it needs to at all), any application can do it at will. Some applications abuse thi

        • by jandrese ( 485 )
          It's yet another case of Windows taking a "don't tell the user anything, it might scare them" approach. I would be totally ok if a dialog popped up saying "Application so and so aborted the shutdown.", instead of me having to repeatedly hit shutdown until whatever it is stops doing that.
          • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

            by srussia ( 884021 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:48PM (#33437524)

            It's yet another case of Windows taking a "don't tell the user anything, it might scare them" approach.

            Are you sure?

            • by jandrese ( 485 )
              Any time I'm trying to figure out why something is crashing on Windows, I curse the fact that error messages rarely tell you anything useful at all. In Unix you'll often get a message on stderr like: Unable to write /foo/bar: Permission Denied. Ah, easy fix, no problem. On Windows you'll at best get "Unable to continue" message, and no clue as to what the problem is (Maybe an ACL is set wrong somewhere? Who knows?).

              Occasionally I'll check the system log, but to date I have never gotten any useful in
      • Don't forget the process of starting to shut down, then acknowledging a lid-close event and overriding the shutdown with a suspend, only to resume shutting down as soon as the lid is re-opened? This is actually a semi-acceptable best-case; the worst-case is acknowledging the lid-close and *trying* to suspend, only to fail at both suspending and shutting down and locking the system on until the battery dies...

        I can see the patent filing being pretty long. Hope the lawyers had their bibs on when they dug in

      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

        by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:41PM (#33438290) Journal
        Even better was the time I told my laptop to shut down because I was low on battery. I came back 5 minutes later to find it hadn't shut down because a Windows dialog had popped up saying I should shut down because I was low on battery (true story).
      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

        by sorak ( 246725 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:13PM (#33440576)

        Shutting down windows is like a bad breakup. It's a long and drawn-out process, that you wish you could just walk away from, but there's always some unnecessary complication that leaves you wondering why you settled for this in the first place and if you will have the willpower to avoid coming back tomorrow.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by toddestan ( 632714 )

        Or my favorite, when you can still get to Task Manager, so you go into the Processes tab and start randomly killing stuff. Eventually you'll kill the right thing, because all of sudden Task Manager will close and the computer will then continue shutting down.

  • Slashdot user shutdown -h now [slashdot.org], i've got some bad news for you.

    • It's an archaic thing to do, in the modern era of ACPI most of us just go shutdown -p now, or perhaps halt -p, which saves the trouble of having to press the power button.
  • Is all the fault of lawyers? Now it all makes sense.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is all the fault of lawyers?

      99.9% of lawyers gave all of them a bad name.

  • The patent (Score:5, Informative)

    by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:14PM (#33436962) Homepage Journal

    Here's the USPTO link [uspto.gov]. The abstract:

    A user interface and scheme is provided for facilitating shutting down an operating system. Aspects include the operating system receiving a command to initiate shut down, and automatically terminating graphical user interface (GUI) applications that delay shut down which do not have top level windows. Also, aspects provide a user, through a graphical user interface, the ability to automatically terminate all running applications in response to determining that a running GUI application has a top level window.

    • Infringement is not decided on the abstract, they all revolve around the claims, which are usually conveniently buried in the middle. What are they?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mea37 ( 1201159 )

        Yes, where ever might we fnid the claims?

        They are surely most elusive, and I cannot imagine where I would start if I wanted to read through them in detail, along with all of the context needed to understand them.

        I mean, sure, GP provided the link to the patent, which by definition is the document containing the claims; I could start by clicking on the link and reading the claims. But it's so much less time consuming to just ask what the claims are and hope nobody calls my bluff.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dachannien ( 617929 )

          You're missing the point. The point is that posting a copy of the abstract is not only pointless, but actually detracts from the conversation, because the abstract has absolutely nothing to do with why a patented invention is not anticipated by or obvious in view of the prior art.

          So, here's claim 1:

          A computer readable storage medium storing computer-executable instructions for performing a method for shutting down an operating system, the method comprising the steps of:

          receiving a command to initiate opera

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Which leads me to think that the simplest, most politically acceptable, and most immediately useful type of patent reform would be this: change the law to state that if one claim in a patent is held to be invalid, the entire patent is invalid. This would prevent absurdly broad "claim 1" items like the one you cite, and force patent filers to concentrate on specific aspects of the implementation instead of trying to seize ownership of general ideas. I know the game they're playing -- make absurdly overbro

  • What is ironic is that Microsoft patents this, but my Mac running OS X 10.6 shuts down and off in literally 2 or 3 seconds, whereas Windows 7 on the same machine (and without virtualization) takes 15-20 seconds to shut down and off.
  • It's called pulling the plug.

    Seriously though, wouldn't virtually any version of unix or other multi-user OS prior to MS releasing Windows 3.x qualify as prior art?

    • Actually, the traditional *nix shutdown sends SIGTERM to all running processes, waits a bit, then sends SIGKILL to the stragglers. Windows *asks* the user if it should kill the slow to shut down processes.
    • Linux has had that for as long as I can remember, which is at least 8 years. And I believe that FreeBSD has had that via at least KDE and Gnome for quite a while as well, although I can't recall as I haven't used that function. But I think the salient point is that this shouldn't be eligible for a patent as providing the functionality for a GUI system to be shut down in this fashion is completely common sense. You don't want to shutdown a system while applications are writing to disk, and you want the user
      • by prgrmr ( 568806 )
        X windows for Unix goes back to the mid-1980s at MIT. A variety of desktop environments were created in the early 90s by HP, IBM, and Sun (among others), the culmination of which was CDE in 1994. Which, of course, Microsoft has conveniently ignored.
  • That's all well and good, but having a software option to shut down the computer was a Macintosh thing (introduced in Finder 4.x in 1985) about 10 years before it became a Windows thing. One need not worry about this patent.

  • So, in effect, they are patenting the ability to NOT use something. I typically just flip the switch to 'off', or leave it running and turn off my monitor. What's next, patenting user logon?

    • So, in effect, they are patenting the ability to NOT use something. I typically just flip the switch to 'off', or leave it running and turn off my monitor. What's next, patenting user logon?

      On ATX PCs (i.e. anything made since the late 90s), hitting the power button just initiates the shutdown procedure anyway.

      Although, I understand you can change this behavior to make it suspend instead...

  • by Grond ( 15515 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:23PM (#33437120) Homepage

    I can't figure out which patent or application the article is referring to. This patent [google.com] issued to Microsoft last year and covers OS shutdown methods, so I think it's the right one. The first claim is this:

    One or more computer readable storage media storing computer-executable instructions which, when executed on a computer system, perform a method comprising:
            receiving information from an application regarding a task that the application is configured to perform;
            receiving a command to initiate operating system shut down while the application is running;
            determining that the operating system shut down should be delayed due to a status of the application; and
            displaying the information received from the application on a graphical user interface during a period in which the operating system shut down is being delayed, the graphical user interface showing that the application is running.

    Basically it covers delaying shutdown while an application wraps something up and informing the user that this is happening via a GUI. The more detailed claims cover the circumstances under which this might occur (e.g., a negative response from the application, no response from the application, etc).

    This patent does not cover what Windows XP or OS X do in this circumstance. In fact, the behaviors of XP and OS X are explicitly mentioned in the specification, and the patent is meant to cover an improved method for handling the situation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oji-sama ( 1151023 )

      That sounds like the overlay Windows 7 displays when things get delayed. It would be an improvement from the old system, but since you can't actually access the prompts (for example from Firefox), it is really annoying. Hereby I release for free: You should be able to give the focus to the software with a prompt by clicking its name.

      (No, I don't really think I'm first to have thought of it.)

    • by CXI ( 46706 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:35PM (#33437352) Homepage
      The patent snippet you provide describes exactly the way that Windows 7 shutdown operates. You get a GUI listing all the programs currently still busy that are blocking shutdown with the option to force the shutdown anyway. Usually if you just wait things will finish their process and the shutdown proceeds. It's actually very poorly done as the pop-up of this window implies that something isn't working correctly. "These programs are preventing shutdown" makes them sound like they are hung. The wording and design could certainly have been improved to point out that things were *still in the process of closing* and not stuck.
    • What is with all the smarminess about shutting down being easy? Says who? Sure, you could just halt everything, simply send a command to the board to cut power. That would be simple and quick. It also would be a good way to lose data or have problems. To gracefully shut things down as quickly as possible is more complex. You want a way to signal all apps to quit quickly and get them the CPU time they need to do so, but not stall out the system. You also probably want a way to back off for a bit if an app ne

  • Of course, the only things that matter are the claims. It appears their 'innovation' is to kill hung, minimized apps (or maybe every app that doesn't have the focus) without asking the user if they want to kill those apps:

    Claim 1: A computer readable storage medium storing computer-executable instructions for performing a method for shutting down an operating system, the method comprising the steps of: receiving a command to initiate operating system shut down; sending a shut down request to a graphical user interface application without a top level window; receiving no response to the shut down request with a predetermined period of time; determining that the graphical user interface application without the top level window is not hung; automatically terminating the graphical user interface application without the top level window; determining whether any graphical user interface applications with a top level window delay shut down; prompting a user for a user command to selectively shut down the graphical user interface applications with the top level window that delay shut down after determining that the graphical user interface applications with the top level window delay shut down; and then after the determining step, automatically terminating all running applications responsive to the user command received from the user that has been prompted.

    It's obviously not very innovative, but it's also probably patentable under US patent law. I don't personally know of any prior art, and in fact I think I wouldn't want my OS to shut down like that.

    • by Tx ( 96709 )

      I thought there was a requirement for something to be non-obvious for it to be patentable; I really don't see anything that isn't obvious in that application. But I'm fairly clueless about US patent law, so I'm probably wrong.

      • It is rare for a patent to become overturned because of obviousness. Lawyers typically don't even try that route in patent disputes. I think the reasoning is two-fold: one, that it is often easy to say something is obvious in retrospect. For example, Galileo's laws regarding the speed of falling objects should be obvious to anyone who observes falling objects, but no one did it before Galileo. Many things are obvious in retrospect.

        The second reason is that no one has ever argued in court that patenting ob
    • OS/2 fast shutdown from version 2.0 onwards, which can also be triggered by Ctrl-Alt-Del, closes all applications and kills applications which don't close immediately without asking the user.

      When I wanted to shutdown the computer quickly and cleanly, I used to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and then when the machine was rebooted into the BIOS POST, I would turn off the power.

  • unsaved documents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fëanáro ( 130986 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:25PM (#33437186)

    "because you need to ask the user if they really want to shut down and if unsaved documents should be saved"

    This is one of the most annoying things about computers. If I want to shut it down, shut it down!
    It is to late for questions, I probably already left after I issued the shutdown command.

    Any question about unsaved documents can be asked the next time I start the program, just save them in a temporary location in the meantime.

    Standby and hibernate have somewhat mitigated this problem, but for multi-user systems there is still no practical solution.

  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:26PM (#33437204)

    I worked at Microsoft for the Windows 95 launch, where I provided Tier-1 support for BOOP (Bill and the Office of the President, i.e. CEO tradeshow tech support). I do recall that Bill specifically called out the 'shutdown' function on Windows 95 as an error. He didn't like it, he hated the idea of waiting for the OS to shutdown, and wanted simply to be able to push the power button to immediately turn the system off, like a DOS PC.

    He may or may not have understood the concept of in-memory caches and unsaved user work, but it didn't much matter to him.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Bill has a point; it shouldn't take long to save 640k of RAM data.

    • by barzok ( 26681 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#33437686)

      He may or may not have understood the concept of in-memory caches and unsaved user work, but it didn't much matter to him.

      I know it's easy & popular to rag on BillG, but toward the end of his tenure at MS, he did occasionally come out as an advocate for users & pushed for simplicity & fixing broken things in their ecosystem. Take this example [seattlepi.com] from when he attempted to install Windows Movie Maker in January 2003.

      But back to the shutdown thing.

      As a naive user, why should I have to ask my computer for permission to shut down? When I tell my TV to power off, it just does it. When I turn the ignition in my car off, the whole thing stops. Same with my VCR, my cell phone, you get the idea.

      As a non-naive user, why is it that when I tell my XP laptop to Hibernate, 5% of the time it just flips out, every application crashes, and I can't do anything, including just shutting the damn thing down until I've cleared all the "this program has crashed, how would you like to debug?" messages and then wait for the UI to become responsive finally to the point where I can tell it to shut down. And then takes 5+ minutes to actually shut down. When I close the lid on my MacBook, OS X puts it to sleep. When I open the lid, it wakes up. Every time. Why can't Windows do this? I can't just go to Standby because it drains the battery too much, so I have to Hibernate.

      • by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <jonaskoelker@nOspAm.yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:29PM (#33440806)

        As a naive user, why should I have to ask my computer for permission to shut down?

        Because if you agree to let yourself be inconvenienced slightly around the edges, we (the systems designers) can make the big part in the middle much more convenient.

        Ever encountered thrashing (excessive swap file reads/writes)? If you want to be able to turn the system off on moment's notice, you're asking for all data to be written to disk at all times. That is, instead of having RAM between CPU and disk, the CPU should just write straight to disk. That is, it should write to disk all the time.

        You're asking for thrashing to be the way computers operate by default. You don't want that. We are in fact so certain you don't want it that we are arrogant enough to make the edge-inconvenient way the default without asking you.

        Or rather, given what most people do with their computers, that's the best way for them to work. If you're really insistent, you're welcome to run on a diskless workstation or off a Linux LiveCD, or mount all your file systems read only.

        Let's see, your TV doesn't store much data and can afford to sync every time anything changes; neither does your car. Your VCR, I would assume, can sync rather rapidly. Also, you don't install new applications on any of those, and you don't complain when your VCR player can't play the new "DVD" format. I don't know about your cell phone, but my 5 year old dumbphone has a cute shutdown animation to cover up the fact that it's a computer with all its inherent complexity. And my N900 which runs Linux; well, go figure...

        In short: computer behave differently because they have to meet different demands. If you want something other than what computers give you, well, all the more power to you I guess. It might be expensive to build if it's only you who wants it, though.

    • by Seq ( 653613 ) <slashdot@@@chrisirwin...ca> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:04PM (#33437804)

      Bill Gates had fight through Tier 1 support like the rest of us? Maybe I've been too hard on the guy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by derinax ( 93566 )

        Hehe. Tier-1, not Level-1. Maybe I should stop using that term in my resume, perhaps that explains quite a lot.

  • ...I thought the BSOD [google.com] was already patented---it's a feature, not a bug, right??? :-)

    • by weicco ( 645927 )

      But it doesn't shut down the computer. And if you happen to have SoftIce kernel debugger you can get other colors than blue on your monitor in some special cases :)

    • "Prior Art"?
      "Guru Meditation"?

  • by borgboy ( 218060 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:37PM (#33437396)

    Asking about saving is the wrong question. Saving shouldn't be a question. A document's current state should be persisted at the drop of a hat and that means undo info as well.

    A small faction at MS gets this.

    Android, as a platform and as recommended dev practice, gets this. Many great IPhone apps get this.

    An app should expect to be terminated rudely and abruptly at any time. You'll impress the hell out of your users if you follow this rule.

  • I'M taking out a patent on the letter 'M'. I can see quite a few people here are going to owe Me Money.

  • As far as I can see, the patent is not about the OS shutdown in general, but the very specific way in which it is done in Vista and Win 7. Particularly, this involves the full-screen notification that some applications are preventing the system from shutting down that you eventually get after clicking the shutdown button, and the surrounding OS behaviour towards such applications (recognizing which running programs warrant putting up the prompt, signaling/terminating them...). This is not the traditional Un

  • IDK what the summary was complaining about,
    Windows 7, 32 bit on an old athalon x2 2800.
    seriously 6 seconds.

    • I forgot to mention she has everything on an x-25m.

      That might have something to do with it.
      I tell her "she has the faster" computer but mine has WAY more horsepower.
      Since 99.9 % of her utilization is zunepass, outlook, and IE. I really can't fault microsoft. She for some reason really likes them.

  • Everybody knows that before you can shutdown the OS, you first have to start it up! But, as it turns out, that's a mighty complicated process. You first have to ask yourself things like:
    • Do I have an OS to begin with?
    • Do I have a computer to run it on?
    • Do I have an electrical socket to plug the computer into?
    • Do I have a keyboard?
    • Do I have a monitor?
    • Do I have a mouse?
    • Do I really want to start up my OS?
    • Does my mother/boss agree that I should be allowed to start up my OS?
    • Do I have access to a qualified help des
  • If designing a shutdown process is this complicated [blogspot.com] maybe it does deserve a patent.

  • It doesn't shut down until you click on some dialog button. Which is not "would you mind shutting it actually down, please?"
  • It'll shut down real fast.

    Why is Microsoft applying for a patent when the Macintosh has had this since OS 1.0?

    What? I'm supposed to send Microsoft some money every time I want to write an application (or an app) that declares an interest (wants to be notified,) when a system shut down request event occurs.

    What kind of idiocy is this crap?

    Has Microsoft finally lost its marbles? (The only thing I can think of is that Balmer is an idiot. Somebody has to hurry up and kill all the damn lawyers before they ruin e

  • by xednieht ( 1117791 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#33437556) Homepage
    A: The USPTO looked in the mirror and found prior art!
  • Correct me if I am wrong here but is that not totally up to the specific applications?
    The OS would ask all the running programs to close, but it would be up to the programs themselves to save the content if applicable.

  • I don't support the patent, but I also don't support the submitter's complete troll of a description.

    Windows 7 shuts down very fast, and it's actually really nice that it asks if you want to close unsaved documents - I'd rather have to click one more time on "Force Shutdown" than have it force Photoshop or Word closed when I forget one of my tens of documents isn't saved yet.
  • ...I miss my original Amiga and my old Palm device. The former, which could be instantly shut off (off, not "down") by flicking the switch, and the later, which instantly went idle with a push of it's power button, and instantly was back up to it's previous state with another push.

    I can't wait until modern computers catch up to the 1990s and 1980s respectively.

  • I patent OS boot up!

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire