If this were to widen further to not only operating systems and software, but to computers, laptops or netbooks and other portable technologies, could this be a future trendsetter?
There are up sides and down sides to this. Neither one is right nor wrong, and depending on personal circumstance to licensing restrictions, it may or may not work. Nevertheless, it's a business model that could be exploited - and which Microsoft is doing so with its patent installed - and others could easily follow suit.
It could be cheaper overall (...or not)
If you know how long you will be renting a computer, say two or three years for a degree programme, it could well be cheaper to annually renew your licence for an operating system and the rest of it. Depending on time of course, it could work in your favour.
That is all good and well - only if you decide upon a Windows machine. For Apple users, the operating system ties in with the hardware and you'll still pay through your teeth for it, even with their offers available.
And of course, if you are using open-source software then you only have to pay for the hardware; massively cutting down the price you would have spent overall.
With rental computers, there's a good chance this cloud business could take off a storm, and storing files in the cloud instead of on the local device means you won't be tied down to one computer. It also means big bucks for the industry and the transferability between devices when one inevitably breaks.
Would pay as you go computing take off? Could you use it as a cheaper, more viable option, or is it dead in the water and doomed to fail? The comment monster wants feeding.