Wake up and smell the coffee BB. If they don't at least attempt to patent it, and someone else does they will get sued for using it.
Microsoft is a huge target, and there are thousands of folks outhere that make their living by getting patents on things that allow them to sue MS and many other large companies.
In today's world Microsoft and everyother comapany out there has to protect the technology they use. Because of this is, it is a regular business to trademark/papent anything and everything.
Until patent/trademark laws get more reasonable, this is going to continue. At this point they are simply playing the CYA game.
You cannot blame MS for playing by the rules, they did not create them.