According to the filed last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the "Metered Pay-As-You-Go Computing Experience" scheme would meter software use and access to specific computer hardware. Fees would be charged against a pre-paid or billed account.
"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," said Microsoft in the application. "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 instead monitor the machine to track things such as disk storage space, processor cores and memory used, then bill the user for what was consumed during a set period.
"A different business model may allow a more granular approach to hardware and software sales," Microsoft argued. "A computer may have individually metered hardware and software components that a user can select and activate based on current need. When the need is browsing, a low level of performance may be used and when network-based interactive gaming is the need of the moment, the highest available performance may be made available to the user."
Fees would be lower for low-performance chores, such as writing e-mail or surfing the Internet, and higher for high-performance tasks.