Microsoft Patents Key Functionality

    August 22, 2008
    Chris Crum

Would you believe that Microsoft has just patented the concept utilized by the "page up" and "page down" keys commonly found on computer keyboards? That seems to be the case according to U.S. Patent number 7,415,666.

The patent was apparently filed back in 2005 and just granted a couple days ago. It credits Timothy D. Sellers, Heather L Grantham, and Joshua A. Dersch as inventors under assignee Microsoft.

The exact text of the patent abstract says this:

A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.

This has bloggers and journalists both laughing and sneering at the idea that Microsoft would just be patenting this technology that has been around for so long, and furthermore why the patent would be granted at all.

"OK, that pretty much seals the deal does it not? Microsoft chanced its arm and got lucky. Another patent official without the first hint of understanding about technology gets busy with the big ‘approved’ rubber stamp and says OK," says Davey Winder at ITWire.

Digg users are having a field day with the story as well. I think my favorite comment is one guy’s claim to have just patented the space bar.

Digg commentary on Microsot Patent

Just how Microsoft intends to leverage this patent remains to be seen. You can bet that a close eye will be kept on the matter, and critics will be ready to tear it apart.