Many have said that the future of Microsoft will be in subscription-based software, cloud computing or some combination of the two. Well, let's hope that it doesn't turn out anything like patent application 20080319910.
Much of the application is unsurprising, and even somewhat dated. The vision incorporates heavily-subsidised hardware (though not under a timed service contract) that can utilise services on a pay-as-you-go basis. Certain programs and functions cost more than others, and could be unlocked on demand. At first that sounds like a reasonable approach, but it's not just high-performance software that can be rented, it's high performance itself.
Described in the patent is a system by which individuals will be forced to rent different levels of computer performance, being shunted into an arbitrarily-slow mode if they choose not to pay. In other words, to play a high-end game, you'd have to rent not just the game, but a sort of unlock for your processor, RAM and video hardware, just so you can fully make use of them.
The idea of subsidised, service-fee based computing has potential, but not like this. It'd be hard to imagine Microsoft winning many fans by forcing users to pay to unlock the obvious potential of hardware that is sitting right in front of them. [CNET—Thanks, Gibberish]