U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently granted Microsoft a patent on a “personalized version” of the sudo command with GUI. Sudo is a command that has been in use since 1980’s or even before by Unix and other operating systems to allow running other commands with elevated privileges. For one, why would Microsoft try to patent something like this? Secondly, does USPTO grant patents on anything you ask them for?

We are witnessing a time in the history of technology when there is more free (open source or otherwise) software available than anyone ever cares to know, and it’s increasing at a higher rate than anyone can even keep track of. For any application that one can conceivably imagine, chances are that there is a free alternative out there. Why in the world then a company such as Microsoft would patent tiny things such as sudo commands, especially when they “borrowed” the original idea from elsewhere anyway? On one hand we see companies like Google releasing entire programming languages into open source, and on the other hand companies like Microsoft acquiring patents on simple sudo commands… we live in truly amazing times don’t we!

Groklaw has much more detailed information on this story. You can also find the original Microsoft patent at the USPTO here.

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