Microsoft Trims Its FAT

While the UK is rapidly spiralling into the plug hole of an approaching apocalypse, there is some good news from the open source frontlines: Microsoft is getting ready to free its exFAT patent to the Open Invention Network.

Indeed, we’ve seen quite the turn-around from the Redmond company over the past few years. Gone are the days of Ballmer’s rants about Linux, and we now enjoy a peaceful co-existence, where Microsoft has embraced Linux and became one of its ardent supporters. Who would have thought?

Anyway, Microsoft made an obscene amount of money from its early patents, in particular the intellectual property of the File Allocation Table patents. The File Allocation Table technology (FAT), is a file system that has been around since the early days of the floppy disk. It became the file system of choice for the company moving forward through DOS and then Windows, then from 2006 the company released exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table), which would become the default file system for USB drives and SD cards.

Now, however, Microsoft is preparing to release exFAT to the community by including it in a future Linux kernel. “Today we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft is supporting the addition of Microsoft’s exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) technology to the Linux kernel”, the company announced, adding, “Microsoft is supporting the addition of the exFAT file system to the Linux kernel and the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network’s Linux System Definition.”

Microsoft’s acknowledgment of open source technologies has seen some great benefits to community. The Windows Subsystem for Linux, and its soon to be released to everyone – not just Windows Insiders – Subsystem 2, has greatly improved the relationship between the two communities. While they’re not sitting around a campfire together and sharing stories just yet, there is a definite lack of hostility; compared to what there used to be, naturally.

Perhaps Microsoft’s new love and adoption of the Linux kernel and open source technologies will see it eventually using a full Linux kernel for Windows, instead of the current NT kernel with the Linux bolt-on; after all, Google has already proved that having a Linux kernel with Android leads to incredible market success. Then again, maybe it’s just a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” Either way, Microsoft is surprisingly doing more to getting Linux on the desktop than Linux ever did, which in itself is something I never thought I’d have to write.

David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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