In an age where battles over patents between the big technology firms seems to dominate much of the news, Microsoft is set to announce the granting of its 5,000th US patent. The software giant, who a decade ago filed only a few hundred patent applications per year, is now chalking up about 3,000 applications per year.

The milestone patent covers technology used to provide a distinct "spectator experience" for video games, a technique used extensively in the Xbox 360.