Originally filed in 2005, Microsoft has now been granted US Patent No. 7,536,726. More specifically, the software giant now owns the patent for intentionally crippling your PC until you cough up the cash for that pirated OS.
Navigating through the legalese, the patent paves the way for "making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer. Additionally, various techniques can be used to remove or reduce the functional limitations of the computer."
The snarky side in us says not to worry, because Microsoft will only hold your system ransom until you pay an "agreed upon sum of money." And the rational side says, really, don't worry, because this should only effect pirates anyway, and even then, Microsoft appears to be softening its stance .