Microsoft checks off patent win

The software giant's latest chunk of intellectual property is a glorifed version of the to-do list.

David Becker
David Becker Staff Writer, CNET News.com
David Becker
covers games and gadgets.
Better not get too fancy with your grocery list, now that Microsoft has patented a glorified form of the to-do list.

U.S. Patent No. 6,748,582, granted and assigned Tuesday to Microsoft, covers the use of a "task list" in a software development environment.

The patented technology essentially integrates certain comments left in the source code of an application under development with an accompanying checklist. Leave a "TODO" comment in the source code, and an authoring application automatically creates an item in the task list. Check an item off on the task list, and the corresponding source code comment is changed.

A Microsoft representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the new patent is specific enough to software development that vacationers penning "what to pack" lists don't have to worry, it fits with Microsoft's ongoing efforts to enlarge its patent portfolio.

The company embarked on a campaign last year to generate more revenue from its intellectual-property portfolio and has since applied for hundreds of patents. The company has received patents covering everything from seemingly elementary aspects of computing technology, such as double-clicking, to arcana such as XML-scripting methods.

The software giant's patent push seemed to reach comical proportions earlier this year, when the company was accidentally granted a plant patent for a variety of apple tree.