Microsoft Introduces Pay-as-You-Go Computing

May 22nd, 2006

Microsoft Corporation today announced the industry’s first pay-as-you-go personal computing offerings powered by Microsoft® FlexGo(TM) technology, enabling more-flexible Microsoft Windows®-based PC purchasing options for customers in emerging markets. Customers can get a full featured Windows-enabled PC with low entry costs that they can access using prepaid cards or through a monthly subscription.

How the platform works

Microsoft FlexGo has two key components. First, there are specially-built PCs powered by Microsoft FlexGo technology that enable pay-as-you-go computing. Second, Microsoft FlexGo includes a provisioning server system that enables payment systems to add usage time to each PC with unique provisioning data.

1. Metering-capable PCs (hardware and software):
Microsoft FlexGo PCs are standard PCs with modifications that make it possible to meter computer use time and allow customers to pay for their PC in increments over time. The PC’s metering policy tracks computer usage and notifies the user when they need to add more time. It also limits access to the PC when there is no more time available or when the integrity of the PC has been compromised (for example, if the system CMOS clock has been set back in time).

These are some of the hardware and software changes that Microsoft, along with key industry partners, has made to create FlexGo metering-capable PCs:

Hardware

Computer Use Metering. System components within the hardware allow for tracking computer use time, based on minutes of use or a specific end-date, as defined in the provisioning data that is independent of the operating system.

Metering Policy Enforcement. When all of the available computer time has been used, access to the PC is limited until more time is added. Metering policy is also enforced when there are signs that the system has been tampered with.

Anti-tampering Measures: These include hardware security technologies that make it inconvenient or costly for an individual to tamper with the components that meter computer usage. These features reduce the risk to those financing the payments over time for the PC.

Software

Interfaces to the Provisioning Server System. New interfaces have been created to connect the operating system to the Microsoft FlexGo provisioning server system in a secured manner.

Local Provisioning System. An operating system component, called the Local Provisioning System, has been added to enable metered use of the computer and to provide mechanisms to apply metering rules.

User Interface and Notifications. Updates were made to the user interface to help users with the new tasks related to pay-as-you-go and subscription usage. These updates include an activation and “add time” wizard, notifications to keep track of the remaining time, and a “limited access mode” that allows users to add time even if they have used all of their available PC usage time.

2. Provisioning Server System
The provisioning server system, together with existing payment systems, delivers provisioning data to each PC to add time as part of a pay-as-you-go or subscription transaction. To interface with different types of payment systems, the provisioning server system exposes a set of Web services that enable flexible configuration of provisioning data to create various product offerings:

For pay-as-you-go models, the technology platform uses 12-character pay-as-you-go codes, in conjunction with Microsoft’s provisioning system, to deliver hours of computer use time to customers.

For subscription models, the technology platform includes a Software Development Kit (SDK) that enables businesses to use their existing billing systems to manage Microsoft’s provisioning system in order to offer end-date based computer use time to customers.





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