Please Insert $1 to Continue Browsing the Web

Microsoft Pay-As-You-GoPaying for your next computer may be more like feeding a parking meter than forking over a one-time chunk of cash. Microsoft has filed a patent for a new “Pay-As-You-Go Computing Experience.” The system would let you skip the up-front cost of a PC, paying instead by the hour based on how many resources you use.

Sound strange? I thought so, too. Someone at Slashdot discovered the patent application over the weekend. Here’s how Microsoft explains the logic:

“The current business model for computer hardware and software relies on a user purchasing a computer with hardware and software that is suited to the most demanding applications that the user expects to encounter. Therefore, a user may buy a multi-core processor with a significant amount of memory and advanced video support for gaming applications that are only used on the weekend, while the user’s day-in, day-out activities may involve little more than word processing or web-browsing.”

Microsoft’s plan would give you a computer, then, that had powerful capabilities — but the hardware would only see its full potential when you anted up for the high-end hourly plan. Likewise, the software would only show when it was part of the package you purchased at any given moment. You might pay anywhere from $0.80 an hour for a simple “browsing bundle” to $1.15 an hour for a “homework bundle,” or $1.25 an hour for the more intense “gaming bundle” of resources.

Microsoft says it may even apply the concept to other areas of technology — things like GPS systems, for example. You’d get the device’s nonfunctioning body, then be billed by the hour based on what you did with it.

In related news, that hooker from downtown has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Microsoft.