If you own a MacBook Pro (Early 2008), the model that was just discontinued, it looks like you’ve got a bit of a reason to be ticked off. See, Apple never enabled the older MacBook Pro’s onboard H.264 decoding abilities. That means when you watch an H.264 movie, your CPU spikes to (or near) the max.
But, it appears that the new MacBook and MacBook Pro has its H.264 hardware decoding enabled. Yes, that’s right… Apple wants you to fork over $1,999 to enable upgrade to hardware H.264 decoding. Of course, if you boot into Windows, H.264 decodes on the GPU, meaning this is entirely a driver issue in Mac OS X.
I think, unfortunately, Apple will pull the same phony, false interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley (which has been dismissed by several legal experts). The claim is that Apple has to charge for software updates that enable new features. The only exception (Apple claims) is if they account for the product under a subscription-based billing system. That’s why iPhone and Apple TV owners get free, major upgrades… while iPod touch owners are out $20 (for two major updates). It’s also the same, false (in my opinion) reason that MacBook owners had to pay $1.99 to enable 802.11n in their systems.
Technically, Apple broke the law, in their own opinion on the 802.11n debacle. See, they enabled 802.11n in Boot Camp for free (when running Windows). Technically, they should have charged $1.99 for the driver update there. Apple, ready to sue yourself? Because, the SEC thinks this is all a load of… fill in the blank.
Here’s what I think will happen. Like many bang-head-against-wall issues with prior generations, Apple will make amends make you wait for Snow Leopard. I have no doubt that MacBook Pro owners will get PureVideo H.264 decoding in that release.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to hack through the drivers on the new MacBook Pro, to see if I can con and/or convince them to work with my MacBook Pro. I refuse to pay Apple for a product, that uses updated drivers as a selling point.
Closing Thought: I know some of you will be ready to knee-jerk harpoon me, and say that I haven’t given Apple enough time to release such an update. Apple has already released one NVIDIA graphics update for the new MacBooks, and in addition, they have refused to comment on this matter to-date. I am not asking Apple for instant driver gratification. I am asking them to commit to releasing this PureVideo support for the first Penryn MacBook Pro systems, and not make existing MacBook Pro owners wait for Snow Leopard.