06735601 is referenced by 182 patents.
Applications, which consist of one or more files containing executable code and/or data, are stored preferably in unmodified form in a provider system. Separately processable portions of the files contain file structure information as well as actual, processable content. A skeleton of each file, consisting of the file structure information but not the processable content, is stored within a user system, and preferably within a virtual machine, along with access information identifying where the actual content is stored. Whenever the user system, in particular, its operating system, issues a request for access to any file portion whose structure only is stored, then the corresponding content is downloaded via a network, from the provider to the user. A broker system may be included as an intermediary between the provider and the user and may perform such functions as billing and selection of available file providers. Applications are thus streamed piecewise in real time to the user, although the streaming operation remains transparent to the user.