If there's one thing companies should understand by now, it's the idea that restricting people from doing stuff that they want to do tends to backfire, badly. Just look at every attempt to create "DRM." Well, apparently Microsoft is trying to create a different sort of digital restrictions policy: one based on hard-coded "manners." A few folks sent in notice that Microsoft has applied for a patent on a system for "device manner policy" (DMP).
Basically, such a DMP system would restrict the use of certain features in certain locations. So, for example, a mobile phone that has the DMP technology might not be able to ring in a movie theater, but would instead shift to vibrate. Or a digital camera or cameraphone would automatically disable the ability to take photos in a museum. Really, this is just another form of DRM, restricting what people can do with the technology they own. While it's nice to think that technology could somehow block out rude uses of devices, the opportunity for problems and abuse seems quite high. Wouldn't we be better off focusing on social norms to get people to learn when it is and is not appropriate to use certain technologies?