After a lull where few new open-source vendors were signing patent-protection deals with Microsoft, the pace has begun to pick up again.
On August 26, Tuxera Ltd anounced it has signed an intellectual-property (IP) licensing agreement with Microsoft; joined Microsoft's exFAT driver-licensing program; and joined the Microsoft Interop Vendor Alliance. Tuxera, based in Helsinki, Finland, was founded by the NTFS-3G open-source project.
As a result of the deal, Tuxera is claiming to be the first independent software vendors to offer exFAT drivers. From Tuxera's press release:
"Tuxera has now access to the exFAT specifications, Microsoft’s source code implementation of exFAT, and testing and verification tools. Tuxera exFAT for Embedded Sytems will be first available for Linux."
Tuxera CEO Mikko Valimaki added that Tuxera "cannot sell end-user proprietary drivers (but we have been talking about that; we can at the moment only sell exFAT on Linux to OEMs."
exFAT, or EXtended File Allocation Table, is an enhanced version of the FAT file system from Microsoft that uses less overhead than the NTFS. It extends the maximum file size of 4GB in FAT32 to virtually unlimited. exFAT is part of part of Windows CE and Windows client.
If any money changed hands as part of the latest patent deal, neither Tuxera nor Microsoft is talking about those details. (I asked; Välimäki said that information is confidential.) But according to an August 6 post on the Tuxera blog, the pair signed their agreement after only three days of physical negotiations. (Plus a year of early preparations....)
NAS and router vendor Buffalo signed a patent-protection deal with Microsoft in July. TomTom and Microsoft signed an IP licensing agreement (after a suit and countersuit between the two) in March.