Microsoft Patents GPU-accelerated Window Manager

Microsoft received a patent that explains a "compositing desktop window manager".

The patent was confirmed on November 15 and was filed about a year ago as an update to a 2007 patent. According to Microsoft, the compositing desktop window manager (short CDWM) would draw "the window to a buffer memory for future reference, and takes advantage of advanced graphics hardware and visual effects to render windows based on content on which they are drawn." The initial idea for such an approach dates back to a 2003 patent application and includes ideas for Windows Vista and its DWM / Aero Glass interface, which required, in comparison to Windows XP, a substantial bump in GPU horsepower.

However, using a GPU for general purpose applications is much more popular and realistic today as many more powerful graphics chips are deployed in mainstream computing systems than was the case when Vista was launched. According to the patent, application software directly accesses the CDWM via an API, which connects the application to a subsystem programming interface as well as an interface object manager and theme manager. A legacy subsystem is still present as a fallback option. A unified compositing engine (UCE) that acts as a link to a 3D graphics interface, such as OpenGL or Direct3D, is part of the invention.

The timing of the patent application suggests that the technology is not tied to the development of Windows 8 and the update could simply address inaccuracies. One indication for this thought is also a patent drawing that shows windows that combine different geometric shapes such as rectangles and ovals - which is not something that is pursued by Microsoft today. However, much more advanced GPU acceleration could help Microsoft tremendously with the deployment of Windows 8 on entry-level computers, including ARM systems.

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    Top Comments
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    As much as I hate patents for concepts, I'd rather see Microsoft acquiring them than Apple.
    23
  • gaborbarla
    Watch out, someone might patent the air that they breathe.
    11
  • de5_Roy
    can't help but think linux distros have had gpu accelerated window managers before microsoft had.
    but imo ms made a well-timed move patenting this after processor gfx has become more powerful and will get more powerful as time goes on.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    As much as I hate patents for concepts, I'd rather see Microsoft acquiring them than Apple.
    23
  • Ragnar-Kon
    amk-aka-PhantomAs much as I hate patents for concepts, I'd rather see Microsoft acquiring them than Apple.

    Yeah Apple and Microsoft (or any other company) are one in the same in my book. Build it, THEN you can patent it. Patents for ideas just doesn't make sense.

    And by the way, I understand that GPU acceleration can provide great improvements in many programs, but I'm just not seeing GPU-accelerated Window Managers being one of those programs that will benefit.
    4
  • gaborbarla
    Watch out, someone might patent the air that they breathe.
    11