File the following story in the "And you thought those Seinfeld-Gates ads were out of touch?" folder:

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) filed a patent for a "metered pay-as-you-go computing experience" that was published last week, offering a computer with scalable performance and selectable software and services.

"To support a pay-per-use business model, each selectable item may have a cost associated with it, allowing a user to pay for the services actually selected and that presumably correspond to the task or tasks being performed," reads the patent abstract.

The plan is simple, in theory. Providing a subsidized hardware component and then making it up in usage fees is at the heart of cell phones, DVRs, and satellite television products already on the market.

The metered computing experience with no upfront costs also exists today in the form of Internet cafes. One can also draw parallels to PeoplePC, the company that once offered leased computers with dial-up Web access for $25 a month. The model didn't work, as EarthLink (NASDAQ:ELNK) eventually acquired the company and now just offers Internet connectivity.

However, at least EarthLink's fees were capped. How does Microsoft expect to market a PC that clicks and ticks like a metropolitan taxi? Active PC users who want to max out the software offerings will eventually realize that it is more economical to just buy a computer with no strings attached. The deal may make sense for infrequent users, but then whoever is subsidizing the PC takes a bath on a rapidly depreciating asset.

Obviously this is a patent that may never see the light of day. It's just one more angle to counter the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Linux, or Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) revolutions if Microsoft sees itself relinquishing gobs of market share. Unfortunately, it's also the kind of patent that may give Microsoft haters more ammo. Since a "pay-as-you-go" rental would appeal mostly to those who can't afford new PCs or lack the tech knowhow, it won't be long before the media begins to accuse Mr. Softy of taking advantage of people.

Oh, and who would market these devices? I can't see the heavies like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) jumping onboard, cannibalizing their full-priced systems in the process and aligning themselves with any negative PR ramifications.

There are times where a subscription-based offering will work. I have no problem with Microsoft Equipt, the service that provides Office and virus protection software on a subscription basis. Microsoft also has a popular subscriber-based service with Xbox Live gold memberships.

However, it's not just simply flying too close to the sun this time. Microsoft is on a different planet, period.

The world according to Microsoft: