1. placing a loading status icon in the browser.
Really? This is novel? Here's somebody demonstrating a framework for doing this for Ajax-web applications:
2. browser that recognizes background images and loads them after text.
Images loading after text has been a feature of pretty much every browser since the original Netscape.
3. Tab controls for use by all applications instead of application-by-application.
This has been a feature of Macs since forever.
This is standard functionality in any text reader. I think even emacs used to have it.
5. storing and annotating text that is not modifiable
Again, pretty standard functionality in most readers. Even Ghostscript used to have this.
Software should never be patentable. All we'll end up with are these types of bogus patents.
p.s. A commenter on Slashdot uses irony to make the same point:
People have known for decades that it's sometime useful to give users feedback about something that takes a long time, by displaying a progress meter or at least "Please wait" or "loading" or "initializing the galaxy." When GUIs got popular, displaying it as an icon was natural. When small screens started to get more popular, it became somewhat common to eschew fixed-position widgets in favor of using the entire screen as a "content area" because there was so little to spare for scrollbars, status displays, or whatever.
Yet despite this situation, no one could figure out how to display a loading status icon in a content area. Or at least no one easily could. But then Microsoft Research applied themselves to the problem, and with a lot of insight, experiments, trial and error, hard work, and just plain luck, they figured out how to do it. I've never seen a Microsoft handheld computer, but presumably they used the novel solution in a product. But nobody wanted it, so it died. And Microsoft, too, may some day die.
The secret for how to display a status icon in a content area, could become lost when Microsoft dies. But no. Not willing to let their efforts be buried by the sands of time as a lost trade secret, they took advantage of patent law, which gave them a brief monopoly (a mere 20 years within themillennia that people have been doing mathematics) for which We The Public received public disclosure for how their invention works.
And what did Google and Barnes & Noble do? They renegged on the disclosure-for-monopoly deal!! Instead of having to figure out on their own, how to display a status icon in a content area, they dishonorably read through all of Microsoft patents, learned all the secrets ("aha! That's how to display a status icon, where the icon is in the content area! Ingenious!") and defied the monopoly.
And here you all are, blaming the victim, Microsoft. Yet without Microsoft, would you know how to display an icon inside a content area instead of outside it? Or would you be pounding your keyboards in frustration? "It doesn't compile!" or "It doesn't run right! There's my icon, but it's outside of the content area! How did they do it!" or "There's my icon inside the content area, but WTF, it doesn't say 'Loading'! How is the user supposed to know it's loading something, if I can't figure out how to make the icon say 'Loading'?!" Please, people, think of the inventors and their technical solutions. Without the monopoly, they might not have had any incentive at all, to solve the long-standing mystery.