Feeds

Study: Users pay for Microsoft patent woes

'Patent tax' of $21.50 each

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Each copy of Windows cost users an additional $21.50 "patent tax" to cover Microsoft litigation bills, the Software Freedom Law Center claims.

The SFLC, which provides legal representation and services to promote free and open source software, said customers are the ones splitting the bill for Microsoft's ceaseless patent-related lawsuits and settlements.

The organization's directors include industry notables such as Eben Moglen and Lawrence Lessig.

Their math to reach this conclusion is rather straightforward: SFLC estimates Microsoft has publicly paid more than $4bn over the last four years to plaintiffs such as Sun, Novell, InterTrust, Alcatel-Lucent, and z4 Technologies who claim Windows and Office products infringe on their patents. Additionally, using a quote from Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, the organization estimates Microsoft paid about $300m in legal fees over that time.

Using a figure of 200 million new Windows installations every three years, they reach the conclusion:

4.3 / 0.2 = 21.5

According to SFLC researcher Matt Norwood each Windows licensee forking-over an extra Jackson and Washington is probably a low-ball figure. The litigation amounts consist only of figures made public and Microsoft is likely to inflate the Windows instillation numbers. A higher cost amongst a smaller population would increase the financial burden for each customer. The organization also believes North American and European customers who pay more for Windows share a larger amount of the load.

It's not altogether surprising that SFLC concludes by recommending the Linux operating system.

The organization's simplistic approach to calculating such a large corporation's legal expenses affecting product pricing is bound to draw some criticism. ArsTechnica notes that the OEM price of Windows XP did not rise during the period of study, and the cost of Vista with equivalent functionality has not increased. And of course Microsoft's prices are a reflection of demand and how high a price people are willing to pay, more than fee compensation.

Norwood concedes the $21.50 headline figure probably isn't a literal price increase from having to handle law disputes. However, he said it's important to recognize legal costs from patent disputes are being passed from developer unto the user.

And there certainly isn't a shortage of them in the tech industry. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.