Panasonic Falls Down Microsoft exFAT Hole

Aron Schatz
February 25, 2010

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Panasonic is the latest company to bow to Microsoft's exFAT filesystem for use in its products. exFAT (or FAT64) does bring a few evolutionary things to the FAT filesystem. The partition limitation is now 64ZB (64x2^70 bytes) and file size has been increased to the same limit. Older FAT32 partitions are limited to 4GB per file which is really unacceptable in today's computing world.

The problem with exFAT is that it is patent encumbered so any use of it requires a license to Microsoft. This should stifle industry adoption of the filesystem, but Microsoft is keen on pushing its technology into the market to lock out competing standards (like the patent free EXT4 filesystem or others). Microsoft has long learned to get its technology at the heart of products to force the market to adopt only its technology. exFAT is available on Windows, of course. Mac and Linux, not so much.

The new SDXC format for SecureDigital cards will be standardized on the exFAT filesystem. We have no doubt that open source support will move out of the experimental area soon enough, but standards should be open and not be patent encumbered.

In addition to licensing the exFAT filesystem, Panasonic also received a license for long file name support for FAT32. The full press release is on the next page.
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REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 25 -- Microsoft Corp. has entered into an intellectual property licensing agreement with Panasonic Corp. to provide it with access to Microsoft's Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology, the latest generation of Microsoft's file system. Panasonic is one of the latest companies to adopt exFAT technology through Microsoft's new licensing program, enabling it to deliver a rich, integrated media experience for its customers.

Built to handle today's rich and integrated media experiences, exFAT technology delivers a significant leap forward in terms of the size of files that can be stored on a broad range of consumer electronic devices, and the speed with which they can be accessed. In addition to the license on Microsoft's exFAT technology, Panasonic has obtained a patent license that covers FAT32 long file name technology in its products.

"Microsoft's exFAT file system technology is designed to enhance multimedia experiences for consumers, which is especially important as televisions and other consumer electronic devices are moving far beyond traditional media content," said David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property Licensing at Microsoft. "This agreement with Panasonic is the most recent example of our commitment to licensing cutting-edge intellectual property to drive innovation across the industry."

exFAT is a modern file system improving on its predecessor, the FAT system, and greatly expands the size of files that flash memory devices can handle. The exFAT file system not only facilitates large files for use of audiovisual media, it enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and consumer electronic devices.

Microsoft's Commitment to Intellectual Property Collaboration

Microsoft offers flexible intellectual property licensing programs that give companies access to many of the foundational technologies in its own products, allowing those companies to build devices, applications and services that work seamlessly with each other. Microsoft has entered into exFAT licensing agreements with several leading companies including Sanyo and Olympus.



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