Microsoft adds Panasonic to its exFAT licensee list

Microsoft adds Panasonic to its exFAT licensee list

Summary: Microsoft has made a second intellectual property (IP) licensing announcement this week. After announcing a cross-licensing deal with (which had lots of NDA stipulations), Microsoft announced on February 25 it had struck a deal with Panasonic for its exFAT technology.


Microsoft has made a second intellectual property (IP) licensing announcement this week. After announcing a cross-licensing deal with (which had lots of NDA stipulations), Microsoft revealed on February 25 it had struck a deal with Panasonic for its exFAT technology.

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 is part of part of Windows CE and Windows client and is used by a number of consumer electronics vendors. Sony, Canon, Sanyo and Tuxera already have signed IP licensing agreements for exFAT.

Panasonic also obtained from Microsoft a patent license that covers FAT32 long file name technology in its products, according to Microsoft's February 25 press release.

It's worth noting the differences in Microsoft's two IP announcements this week, given that a number of open-source backers claimed that Microsoft's patent agreement with Amazon was not noteworthy.

Maybe Amazon was just licensing exFAT/FAT, some argued. Sure, maybe Amazon licensed those technologies too; it's impossible to tell, given what Microsoft disclosed and Amazon refused (or was not allowed) to discuss. But as I mentioned to some readers, when Microsoft is simply licensing exFAT/FAT, it calls that out specifically in the release, even if the licensee isn't talking about how/what they plan to do with the technology.

In Amazon's case, Microsoft called out the fact Amazon is using open-source technology (Linux, specifically) in the Kindle and on its back-end servers. Some open-source backers said they believed Microsoft did this to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to hurt Linux.

Maybe so. But I'm curious why Amazon ended up paying Microsoft and seemingly agreed not to talk about terms. If this were a simple patent-licensing arrangement, why the secrecy and no comments about whether patent-infringement claims around Linux were part of the deal?

By the way, I am not saying I know or believe that Linux infringes on any Microsoft technologies (as some of my readers seem to think I am attesting). I have no idea whether that is true. I am simply curious what Microsoft is showing companies selling and using Linux, like Amazon, to get them to sign on the dotted line....

Topics: Microsoft, Amazon, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Legal, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software


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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  • Why not use ext4 or UFS? They're free. [nt]

  • Pretty straight foward MJ

    Amazon Web Services now gets revenue from Reserved Instances of EC2 for Windows technology. Presumably, Amazon paid a healthy 'consideration'.

    Microsoft is now placed on equal footing with Linux, being given Reserved Instance capability and thus has AWS 'on demand' technology for IaaS, PaaS for use in Azure, if they so choose (transparent much like Akamai provides), and other initiatives.

    That's the bare essence of it. A technology exchange, hence the cross-licensing agreement.

    The NDA is peculiar but not surprising given MS' past history for doing so and propensity for sowing FUD regarding purported Linux IP infringement.

    So, really, it's commerce as usual at Amazon.

    P.S. This is a letter that reached my Inbox the day before yesterday:

    [b]"Dear Amazon EC2 Customer,

    We are excited to announce the immediate availability of Reserved Instances with Windows, which work like Reserved Instances with Linux/UNIX. You simply pay a low, upfront fee for each Reserved Instances with Windows you want to reserve and in turn receive a significant discount on the hourly price during a 1 or 3 year period. After the one-time payment, that Windows-based instance is reserved for you, and you have no further obligation; you may choose to run that instance for the discounted usage rate for the duration of your term, or when you do not use the instance, you will not pay usage charges on it. You can find more detailed information on Reserved Instances at

    In addition, we are also pleased to announce today the availability of Extra Large High Memory instances, for use with all operating systems. The new instance type is specifically designed for memory-intensive workloads such as databases, memory caching, and rendering. You can also leverage this new instance type as a lower cost option if you are already using Standard Extra Large instances. The High Memory Extra Large instance type is defined as:

    Extra Large: 17.1 GB memory, 6.5 ECU (2 virtual cores with 3.25 ECU each), 420 GB storage, 64-bit platform
    Please visit the Amazon EC2 service page for more information on the Extra Large High Memory instance type.

    We hope that you take advantage of these new offerings!


    The Amazon EC2 Team"[/b]
  • RE: Microsoft adds Panasonic to its exFAT licensee list

    I think it's more to do with what Amazon is going to do with those patents. If they let out which specific one's are licensed then it would be pretty easy to figureout the new product and it's features that Amazon is working on. That's the reason for secrecy from Amazon's point of view.
  • Microsoft needs patent protection?

    I find it ironic that MS believes and practically shouts to the world about
    their superiority. But they need that patent protection.

    Why does the world's largest software company need patent
    • To stop others from ripping them off

      No amount of technical nor business prowess will save you if any ol' Tom, Dick or Harry can just come along and duplicate your invention without paying you a royalty.
  • RE: Microsoft adds Panasonic to its exFAT licensee list

    What do you think patents are for?

    Everybody patents the fruit of their R&D including IBM, which is actually the biggest patent holder, and whose revenue is almost double the revenue of Microsoft.
  • This is how the powerful get more powerful..

    ..through fear, bribery and cohersion. Microsoft has
    the resources to take any corporation court and all it
    needs to do is just threaten and the companies will

    Microsoft is a patent troll.

    Microsoft is getting larger and is controlling more
    parts of your life. It makes me laugh at all the paid
    and unpaid Microsoft followers accusing Google of being
    a monopoly. Microsoft is a giant compared to Google. Many have just no idea.

    Corporations like this should not be supported, or at
    least you should try and support them less, and that
    you can do.