Apple patents Windows XP desktop themes?

The Register has the story.
Microsoft's plan to providing Windows XP (aka Whistler) with interface themes (aka skins) may be knocked on the head by Apple, which has patented desktop themes.

The patent, granted on 13 February from an application made way back in May 1998, covers "systems and methods for providing a user with increased flexibility and control over the appearance and behaviour of objects on a user interface are described.

That's a pretty comprehensive description of how skinning works, whether on an application by application basis, or across an entire UI. Presumably Apple will now be demanding royalties from everything from WinAmp to Windows.

Or maybe not. We were interested to learn that Apple's original patent application was made a mere eight days after well-established UI enhancements-oriented Web site was launched, on 25 April 1998. - for those not in the know - provides stacks of modified interface widgets for the main Linux GUI window managers, including KDE, Enlightenment (Gnome's WM), WindowMaker, AfterStep and Blackbox.

I just hope Apple does not turn into the next Rambus. You can read the rest here. In related news, WinInfo is reporting that Windows XP beta 2 has now slipped to March 21.
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