Doubling down on its commitment to open source and Linux, Microsoft is extending support for exFAT to the Linux kernel. The company will also publish the technical specifications of exFAT so users can easily implement support.
exFAT is the most popular file system for external storage devices like SD cards and flash drives. Unlike FAT32, it doesn’t have 4GB limit and is quite robust. Microsoft has made millions by licensing it to vendors, including Android players like Samsung that offer support for external micrSD cards.
On desktop Linux, users had to resort to installing additional kernel modules that were not part of the kernel due to patents owned by Microsoft. All of that is changing now.
John Gossman, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer & Linux Foundation Board Member, said that “…we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate the development of conformant, interoperable implementations. We also support the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network’s Linux System Definition, where, once accepted, the code will benefit from the defensive patent commitments of OIN’s 3040+ members and licensees.”
This announcement shows that Microsoft really had a change of heart and is as invested in the success of Linux as any other ‘Linux’ vendor. There is still a vocal minority within the open source user community which is skeptical of Microsoft, but this move should address some of their skepticism. It’s yet another great move by Microsoft in the right direction.