Welcome to South Carolina. Local police departments there specialize in hiring officers of the species Neanderthal. It was the misfortune of a driver of a car in which I was a passenger to encounter one some years ago. We were lucky to escape with a traffic citation. For a minute there, I thought he was going to shoot the four of us and claim self-defense. Jackbooted thugs would be what I call them.
There was nothing for Microsoft to steal, because any such patent never should have been granted in the first place. Such a software process would fail both the "new" and the "obvious" tests since at least the late 1980s, and, arguably, much earlier.
"there is no incentive to innovate"
There is still a first-mover advantage and, if the work really did require any substantial amount of intellectual effort, it might well be able to use trade secret protection. My position is that the Supreme Court erred in making patent protection available for methods and software. Those patents (IMHO) "in general are bad for the free market."
The clearest positions on both sides are given by @Bill Hefron and @Tim Burga. I agree with Burga. The problem with Hefron's position is that this patent fails the "obvious" test. In the last 15 years, there has been a cottage industry of taking existing ideas, adding no more value than putting them on the Internet, and filing for a patent. There are "patent mills" whose sole purpose is to grind out as many of these patent applications as they can, and then look for someone to sue. We aren't talking about Thomas Edison or the Wright brothers here. There is (contrary to Hefron) no true innovation here, and (with Burga) our patent system is horribly broken.