Microsoft was awarded a U.S. patent for "portable applications." The description of this innovative technology? Running an executable file from a flash device. More specifically, portable applications are defined like this (from patent documents): "A portable storage device includes an interface and one or more flash memories, which store one or more executable files that can be executed by host computer to which the device is coupled without altering any environment settings on the host computer even though the one or more executable files include instructions to access environment settings. Additionally, the app is bound to portable storage device during an activation process." A Microsoft spokesperson said: "The patent relates to portable apps that can be executed from a portable memory device (such as a USB flash drive) without impacting the configuration of the computer. The patent isn’t directed solely to running an app from a flash drive but to running an app from the flash drive without altering the configuration of the computer."