A couple of years back, Apple filed a patent application for an ad-supported operating system, which would give the user free or discounted services and software in return for watching ads. But apparently Steve Jobs himself came up with the idea, way back in 1999, and Apple very nearly released a version of OS 9 that was ad-supported.

The revelation comes from Ken Segall’s new book, Insanely Simple, in which Ken talks about how Jobs thought that a free ad-supported version of OS 9 would have gotten those that wouldn’t actually pay for an upgrade up to the latest version. Once hooked, you’d pay to remove the ads. Jobs even had it with context sensitive ads, like an Epson ad when your printer ran out of ink, and they would change periodically by downloading new ads off the internet. Both concepts were way ahead of their time back in 1999.

Personally I think it’s a terrible idea to ad-support your operating system and I'm glad Apple didn't go down that route. I can’t imagine a more annoying thing than an advert popping up where you simply can’t get away from it. It’d be like you had a virus spamming you with internet pop-ups right from your desktop. Then again, if it'd let you buy the OS outright as well, I’d happily spend the money to get rid of the ads. I guess that would be win-win for everyone. [MacRumors]