Microsoft Patent App Hints At Dark Future

    July 16, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The ability to display advertising to a web surfer based on the contents of their local drive may have a destination in Microsoft’s patent library.

Microsoft applied for a patent that will drive ads to an even greater level of personalization. Users of the company’s software may find this peek at the future a little more foreboding than usual.

InformationWeek said the patent’s main feature provides context for advertising, and triggers its display. The scary stuff comes from the summary of the application (spacing added for clarity):

An advertising framework may reside on a user computer, whether it’s a part of the OS, an application or integrated within applications.

Applications, tools, or utilities may use an application program interface to report context data tags such as key words or other information that may be used to target advertisements.

The advertising framework may host several components for receiving and processing the context data, refining the data, requesting advertisements from an advertising supplier, for receiving and forwarding advertisements to a display client for presentation, and for providing data back to the advertising supplier.

Various display clients may also use an application program interface for receiving advertisements from the advertising framework.

An application, such as a word processor or email client, may serve as both a source of context data and as a display client.

Instead of waiting for someone to get around to browsing a website served by Microsoft’s adCenter service, they seem to be proposing a way of offering their signature software like Office in an ad-supported fashion.

It’s easy to imagine such a patent being abused, but a couple of reasons make it unlikely. For one, there would be a footrace to the courthouse by Microsoft’s competitors, corporate customers, privacy groups, and attorneys general to sue them for mucking around in local hard drives for ad context.