Unable to justify market economics for products and some hesitation to disrupt markets, Microsoft missed the tablet revolution and in many ways the ebooks revolution too. Microsoft was doing tablets and ebooks before Apple, unfortunately, Apple beat them where it mattered–the markets.

I came across a patent that Microsoft has been granted that deals with NFC based communication. The thing about the patent is, it was filed back in 2006. Like always, Microsoft was working on a technology before it became cool.

Near Field Communication is now slowly penetrating the market with OEMs and software vendors both offering support. According to a 2006 patent Microsoft has been granted, they hypothesize use of existing web formats (XML) to transfer information via NFC. Some claims from the patent:

[1] employing a near field communication (NFC) compliant air link as the wireless communication link; and exchanging information between two or more NFC compliant devices and/or an electronic tag over the NFC compliant air link utilizing a web-based format.

[2] employing a near field communication (NFC) compliant air link as the wireless communication link; and exchanging information between two or more NFC compliant devices and/or an electronic tag over the NFC compliant air link utilizing a web-based format.

[3] transferring the wireless messages utilizing an object exchange (OBEX) format over the NFC compliant air link.

[4] utilizing extensible markup language (XML) schema and/or microformat schema to preserve structured data during transfer.

Microsoft isn’t supporting NFC in their current version of Windows Phone, and according to reports, isn’t expected to till 2012. Though the patent talks a lot about kiosks, the title makes me wonder if Microsoft might be able to leverage this technique in Windows 8 or a future Windows version. By having NFC supported tablets and phones, a web format-based implementation to transfer information between the two devices might be more open for developers to work on. Windows 8 development has a lot to do with web-based languages and tablets. An interesting quote from the patent shows what all is possible:

 The types of information passed can include, but are not limited to, information such as raw data, tables, charts, graphics, audio, games, communication protocols, and software applications and the like. Instances disclosed herein provide techniques for transporting data and do not impose restrictions on types of data that can be transported.

HP did something similar with their webOS devices–Palm Pre and the TouchPad. Though HP was not using NFC, their Touch to Share implementation allowed users to transfer information from their tablet to the phone. Wrapping the information with existing web standards would allow developers to be able to offer this functionality without much hassle. Here’s a video of HP’s Touch to Share:

Though the patent does not talk about mobile based payments (Google Wallet) and controlling other devices for a better entertainment experience (Nokia Play 360), that are some of the use cases of NFC being advertised today.