Linux users have known the pain of dealing with exFAT-formatted flash drives and SD cards on their computers. Thankfully Microsoft, which has recently become a big Linux fanboy, is removing its hold on the patents related to the exFAT file system.
This move comes after the company has already had its share of profits, making money off exFAT patents it owns. Through the Open Invention Network (OIN), Microsoft is now making its exFAT patents available for use in the Linux kernel and open source community.
“Microsoft ♥ Linux – we say that a lot, and we mean it! Today we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft is supporting the addition of Microsoft’s exFAT technology to the Linux kernel,” the company said in a blog post.
What is exFAT File System?
exFAT (or Extended File Allocation Table) is a Windows file system released by Microsoft back in 2006 alongside Windows CE 6.0. Since then, exFAT remained proprietary, allowing Microsoft to make some cash on it.
In comparison to the old and famous FAT32 that only allows file size up to 4GB, exFAT allows near inexhaustible limits for both file size and partition size.
You can find exFAT commonly used for flash drives and SD cards used in different kinds of devices, including cameras, smartphones, laptops, etc.
While the exFAT file system is compatible with Windows and macOS, Linux users found a hard time dealing with storage media formatted with exFAT.
However, FUSE-based workarounds have been implemented to achieve some level of compatibility. Back 2013, Samsung also published its own open-source Linux driver for the exFAT file system.
But with Microsoft willing to stuff its tech into the Linux kernel itself, it will surely make the life of Linux users a lot easier.
Microsoft’s love for Linux
Speaking of Microsoft, this is the latest addition to the company’s efforts, portraying itself as a Linux and open-source loving company.
Late last year, Redmond open-sourced more than 60,000 patents via OIN, possibly it’s most significant open-source move till date. Also, it has already integrated Linux with Windows 10 via WSL.
At this year’s BUILD conference, the company announced WSL 2 which offers support for full Linux kernel in Windows 10. All in all, Microsoft may be finally in a position to change its previous image of a ruthless behemoth that relies on proprietary software.
Also, one reason why Microsoft seems so much interested in Linux is that doesn’t view operating systems as a reason to fight anymore. Linux has a surprisingly low market share for consumer PCs, but it’s a common sight on servers and supercomputers. Above all, it’s open-source. The future of technology is in the cloud and Microsoft needs the best of both worlds.