Microsoft patents 'Page Up' and 'Page Down'?

Office for Mere Mortals
Your beginners guide to the secrets of Microsoft Office
Invalid email address
Tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from Microsoft Office experts.  Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office for Mere Mortals has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy

It’s a shock headline, Microsoft apparently patents keyboard keys that have been around for decades. The reality isn’t as bad or ridiculous.

If you read some headlines in the tech press it seems that Microsoft now has a patent for the ‘Page Up’ and ‘Page Down’ keys! The patent was applied for in 2005 and granted on 19 August 2008.

Page Up and Page Down keys have been around for a long time – at least back to 1981 and the IBM PC keyboards.

Now we love nothing more than to take Microsoft to task -Office Watch has been doing that since 1996 – but in this case the company isn’t being as high-handed as the headlines would have you believe.

Microsoft hasn’t patented the common keyboard keys – the patent is for a particular way that we navigate documents when those keys are pressed.

Like many things we take for granted in modern technology, the Page Up and Page Down actions are more complicated than you think. Take this snippet from the patent application:

calculating a vertical offset at the starting point of the first page, wherein the vertical offset is calculated according to a formula of the form {[(p-1)/c]h}+r, where p is equal to the number of pages in the document, c is equal to the number of columns of the document which are simultaneously displayed, h is equal to the height of at least the first page, and r is equal to the row offset of the starting point of the first page

When you press Page Down – the document action is more than is obvious. Does it move down a full page or just the amount of the document visible on the screen? If the latter, is there an ‘overlap’ so you can read the bottom line or two from one screen at the top of the next screen (this helps your reading continuity)? Is the overlap a fixed amount or per line. What happens when you have a zoomed view which scrolls left/right as well as up/down?

And that’s all focusing on traditional documents from programs like Word or Internet Explorer. There are more complications for programs like Excel or Powerpoint.

To work out all those possibilities, and lot’s more, takes up over 6,000 words of a patent application.

So don’t panic – you won’t have to pay Microsoft every time you press the two ‘Page’ keys. All Microsoft has done is patent some ‘intelligence’ that can be used when those keys are pressed in their software.

After our original article we received word from Microsoft, confirming our reading of the patent and the silly nature of some media coverage:

As you mentioned in your article, Microsoft is certainly not trying to patent the “page up/page down” function on a keyboard.  Instead, our company’s technologists and patent attorneys (and now the USPTO) believe we’ve come up with a way to improve overall user experience.  This patent describes specific, new techniques for incrementally navigating through paginated content, making it easier for users to navigate through documents.  For example, it includes a particular technique of calculating a point offset from the top, which offset is used to permit scrolling in a whole-page increment to a another page displayed at the same offset.  If any of your readers are interested in information about MS IP/technology that is currently available for licensing we encourage them to visit: http://www.microsoft.com/iplicensing/

 

subs profile e1563205311409 - Microsoft patents 'Page Up' and 'Page Down'?
Latest news & secrets of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office experts give you tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office Watch has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy
Invalid email address