Those whose reaction to Microsoft's application for a patent on pay-as-you-go computing tended toward the apoplectic can rest easy. The US Patent & Trademark Office said no.
In a letter sent to Redmond a few days before the application's Christmas Day publication, the USPTO questioned Microsoft's occasional use of fuzzy terminology ("polls" was a sticking point). The office also pointed out that all the claims included in the patent application described stuff that was already patented.
So, no need to worry about the described walled-garden PC experience just yet. But remember, the refusal was not final and Microsoft can appeal or reapply.