Add Sharp to the list of Microsoft exFAT licensees

Add Sharp to the list of Microsoft exFAT licensees

Summary: Sharp is the latest company to agree to license Microsoft's exFAT file system. Microsoft wants to be sure you know there's an Android connection.

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Sharp Corp. is now one of a growing list of companies licensing the exFAT file system from Microsoft.

MSexfat

Microsoft has signed up a number of other companies as exFAT licensees, including Sony, Canon, Sanyo, SanDisk and Tuxera over the past few years.

exFAT, or EXtended File Allocation Table, is an enhanced version of the FAT file system from Microsoft that uses less overhead than the Windows NTFS file system. It extends the maximum file size of 4GB in FAT32 to virtually unlimited. exFAT has been part of part of Microsoft's embedded version of Windows, as well as of Windows client. Microsoft also has continued to license FAT (the "full FAT"?) alongside exFAT to interested parties.

(Back in 2010, Microsoft was charging a $300,000 flat free to license exFAT for certain consumer device categories, including cameras, camcorders and digital photo frames, with volume-based pricing available for those who want to license it for mobile phones, PCs and networks, officials told me.)

What I found most interesting in today's press release was Microsoft's decision to play up Android in today's press release about Sharp.

"The agreement covers the use of exFAT in smartphones distributed by Sharp based on the Android platform," reads the press release.

This makes me wonder whether exFAT is one of the Microsoft patented technologies which the Softies use to convince those using the Android operating system to sign patent-protection agreements with Microsoft. Microsoft has not publicly disclosed a list of its technologies which it uses to get Android and Chrome OS device makers -- and recently a service provider (in the case of Amdocs) -- to pay Redmond royalties to ward off the threat of potential patent litigation.

Speaking of Android device makers agreeing to pay Microsoft patent licensing fees, Honeywell joined the ranks of that expanding club last week. Microsoft didn't put out a press release to mark the occasion, and Honeywell's acknowledgement that its scanning and mobility division had agreed to pay Microsoft patent royalties for Honeywell devices running Android or Chrome OS was mentioned as part of its August 2 press release about its new Android-based digital assistant.

Topics: Patents, Android, Legal, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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28 comments
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  • Add Sharp to the list of Microsoft exFAT licensees

    There was never any doubt that linux used Microsoft technology, not with all the companies signing into patent agreements. Its a pretty fair warning to android.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • The Linux Connection Is Just FUD

      If Microsoft had any real claims that Linux violated there IP they would have sued Red Hat.
      RickLively
      • I thought Linux is FOSS

        not some corporate like RedHat owned.
        Ram U
        • Wikipedia

          http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/FOSS_A_General_Introduction/Linux
          RickLively
    • Sure sure....

      Never and any doubt are very strong words....

      It is strange that almost after two decade Microsoft FUD campaings, someone still comes and say that Microsoft was right, even when they has not ever shown any proofs, not even in court.... (SCO case).
      Fri13
      • or...

        Maybe no one has taken Microsoft to court, because they know they cannot win?

        Look at all the other billion dollar corporations slugging it out in courts over patents, but you think they are all to afraid of Microsoft to do the same?

        Why has none of them taken Microsoft to court to prove these "non existent" patents?
        Emacho
        • Cannot afford the 5-6 million cost.

          Plus legal expenses.
          jessepollard
        • Acutally, one did.

          MS caved and then settled out of court, hiding everything in NDAs.
          jessepollard
    • and

      as proof of this you offer us.... ?
      oneleft
  • Exfat & Linux

    Linux kernel don't have support for exFAT.. Theres a 3rd party fuse module but nothing native in the kernel.. I can understand for fat32 support but not ExFat.
    Anthony E
    • Not true.

      The linux kernel has an experimental ExFAT driver in it.
      someitguy21
    • Actually

      Actually Linux operating system (you know that Linux OS and Linux kernel are same thing?) does have support for ExFAT reading, but not for writing. The propietary modules are ones what gives 100% working support and they are build with Microsoft help and specs what Linux community can not use.

      I would say that every Android manufacturer should go and use only Ext filesystem on Android phones and actually say to every card manufacturer that FAT32 isn't going to be supported anymore. And then together make a Ext4 driver for Windows so every Windows user could install it and OEM pre-install it and then get once and all Microsoft out of filesystem markets with FAT.

      As now only reason to use FAT (were they FAT32 or ExFAT) filesystem is the memory card needs to be visible to windows as thumb drive or the phone NAND memory by same reason.
      Or other way would be that Android would itself make a conversion layer between computer and phone when connected via USB.
      Fri13
      • Agreed 100%

        Everyone who isn't on MS payroll should be pushing EXT4 as the alternative to FAT32 and ExFAT. No more MS lock in. It's bad for Linux, it's bad for Android, and it's bad for Apple.
        T1Oracle
      • Errrmm...Windows has had exFAT support for years

        So your statements about needing to make a driver for windows are pointless and your statement about using FAT32 for windows support is wrong.
        mog0
        • Sorry, fail on my part

          I misread your post. Whoops!!
          mog0
  • Useful to know

    Like maybe I should reformat my thumb drive to something other than FAT32 (I'd hate to violate MS' IP rights any more than I have to).

    We'll see if any of MS' PR people are fired over this.
    John L. Ries
  • Actually

    ''Microsoft has not publicly disclosed a list of its technologies which it uses to get Android and Chrome OS device makers''

    Actually it has, but not all. Microsoft vs Barners and Noble case Microsoft listed 5 of 6 patents what Android was infiring. All five (microsoft withdraw sixth to keep it in secret) were about WWW browser patents and GUI functionality.
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2011111122291296

    One, like how to select a word by double clicking it....

    Microsoft is playing very dirty game and these patents should never have been allowed to be registered in the first place...
    Fri13
  • Android, But Not Windows Phone?

    So Microsoft took this opportunity to its biggest rival in mobile even more free publicity, but totally missed the chance to blow the trumpet for its own Windows Phone?

    Great marketing coup there, Microsoft.
    ldo17
  • It's LFNs that are patented

    I don't know everything that MS has patented in *FAT*, but it began with LFN implementation in NT 3.5, which FAT32 carried over. Contrary to Linux misinformation, there is no vFAT FS, vFAT is a driver in WinWG 20 years ago.

    As there is no way around this, why didn't Android and others switch to UDF years ago? UDF has flash optimizations, no size limits, LFNs, and is patent free.
    Eric Gisin
  • they never used fat internally

    This is only to support removable storage which uses FAT traditionally. Its like asking why people still use windows. Internally, android devices use ext4 filesystem. The patent is only about LFN, a stupid hack. The basic FAT design is not patented. There's no need for UDF, itself an outdated filesystem.
    deathjazz68