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Microsoft Patents Operating System Shutdown

Microsoft just received confirmation of a patent that hands the company the intellectual property of shutting an operating system down.

I can’t quite recall how often Microsoft has talked about a faster way to shut down its operating system. It is part of the pitch of virtually every new operating system and it has remained an annoyance that it can take quite some time until the software in fact closes running applications and the operating system itself.

In August 2005, Microsoft filed for a patent to more efficiently shut down its Windows operating system as well as other operating systems, including Apple’s Mac OS X, and override running programs that may prevent Windows from closing. That particular feature has been implemented for some time in Windows and is known as the notification screen just before the actual shutdown, if a user has requested Windows to close and other programs with open and unsaved documents are still running.

Microsoft describes this feature as “a user interface and scheme […] for facilitating shutting down an operating system. Aspects include the operating system receiving a command to initiate shut down, and automatically terminating graphical user interface (GUI) applications that delay shut down which do not have top level windows.”

The patent was filed when Vista was three months away from its first release to business users. Microsoft refers only to Windows XP in the patent description and states that “when shut down is temporarily blocked by other applications, the user experience can be unpleasant as the user may not be provided with any system generated indication of what is going on and shut down is obviously delayed.”

Sometimes, the really simple things can be really complicated. Even the request to just shut Windows down. Perhaps we will see a patent in some time that would shut Windows down in less than 5 seconds when you ask it to?

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