Microsoft hasnt been granted the patent despite it having been first filed in September 2004, but it may face challenges to the claims from companies that began using GPU video encoding independently after the patent application was filed but before it was published.
Given that it took nVidia quite a while before they got any developers to work on shipping products that took advantage of their programmable GPUs (the CUDA architecture), it’s a surprise to me that Microsoft even filed a patent on this. Previously I have re-posted some press releases surrounding the products known as Avivo (from ATI/AMD) and Badaboom, which was designed to speed up this very thing. You rip a DVD and you want to save it to a smaller file size or one that’s compatible with a portable video player. But it takes forever on your computer, so what’s a person to do? Well thanks to nVidia and product X you just add a little software and speed up that transcoding to .mp4 format. It’s like discovering your car can do something you didn’t know was even possible, like turning into a Corvette on straight flat roadways. Now be advised not all roads are straight or flat, but when they are Boom! You can go as fast as you want. That’s what having an accelerated video encoding is like. It’s specialized but when you use it, it really works and it really speeds things up. I think part of why Microsoft wants to enforce this is in the hope of possibly getting licensing fees but part of it is also maintaining it’s bullying prowess on the desktop computer. They own the OS right? So why not remind everyone that were it not for their generosity and research labs we would all be using pocket calculators to do our taxes. This is one case, a premiere example of how patents are stifling innovation. And I would love to see this patent never be enforced or struck down.