Add Sharp to the list of Microsoft exFAT licensees

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.

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


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.

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