I read it yesterday and almost choke on my dinner, and probably my humor got affected by it in the Lisbon.pm social meeting that happened after it.
What's all this fuss about it?
Imagine a world where you have a really limited choice of hardware to buy. The brand and manufacturer doesn't really matter, so you'll ignore those. You'll just have the "bad motherboard", the "good motherboard" and the "awsome motherboard". And they're expensive - more than now. After buying your computer (and by computer I mean - for the desktop market - a black box, a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse), you'll have to buy the operating system. No, listen to me, you have to pay for it: your hardware won't run anything else but this Operating System. Right. Now, you bought it (well, probably it came bundled with the machine you just bought as well), go home and turn it on. WELCOME TO MICROSOFT WINDOWS VIENNA! And there are those... err... four big buttons: "Install Software", "Install Hardware", "Suspend" and "Shutdown". They can even do something like the actual Nintendo Wii interface: you have a square for one of those things and free space for some more. Now, you want to buy a word processor, because you bought this computer to write some documents, and you want to do it online because you don't want to get out of home. So, you connect your USB modem on your computer and you're notified "ILLEGAL SOFTWARE DETECTION - THAT MODEM ISN'T VIENNA CERTIFIED". Yup, welcome to the Trusted Computer Era. So, you call to your retailer and ask for certidied Vienna modems, you reserve one and the next day you go to the store to buy it.
Now, I could continue this story (I have better things to do, sorry) for a big load of time, to show you how desparetedly bad this is. If hardware manufacturers want to sell hardware where Windows runs, they'll have to pay - a lot - to Microsoft. If a user wants one functionality - any functionality (yes, including minesweeper) - will have to pay - a lot - to Microsoft. This is valid to any 3rd-party software: it will only work on Windows if Microsoft DRM system accepts it: pay. It will limit your hardware usage: if you want to have high bandwith you'll have to start paying twice: still to your ISP and now to Microsoft so they unblocks your hardware and let's it use another well-defined bandwith. It will even act on your harddrive space and speed, your processor, your motherboard, your life. Every site you visit must be "trusted" - by them. Maybe this will stop the worries of Google and Yahoo! on censorship: Microsoft will do it for them. Of course that, in this scenario, both Google and Yahoo! are useless... but I digress.
If you think that this dystopian view is way to exagerated, please read about this issue from some people that are better explaining the issue than me, or from those that are good in giving your a legal interpretation of the patent.
I have to start to agree with Paula about all this thing going around the "social web" - services instead of products and the lack of privacy and ultimately freedom that comes with it. Microsoft is aiming it fiercily - maybe it's time to really act and actively do something to fix Ubuntu's bug #1... Before 2009.