Microsoft today announced that they had started licensing their proprietary, patent-pending Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system with a variety of Industry players like Sony, Canon, Sanyo, and SanDisk Corp. already anteing up. Sometimes unofficially called FAT64, exFAT is similar to Microsoft’s old FAT file system in that it has low overhead, but it can handle larger files and it has an enlarged addressing range – 256TB instead of FAT’s 32 GB. Its properties make it useful for simplified storage systems in flash devices like thumb drives, cameras, and GPSs which have traditionally used FAT variants, but are fast approaching FAT’s size limits.
exFAT is notably supported only on Windows PCs which rather throws a crimp into usability for devices implementing it if they need a PC connection. However, there is apparently a Linux exFAT support effort underway which yields the promise of more Microsoft patent disputes with Linux system makers since they are still aggrieved that Linux incorporated FAT support which Microsoft also patented. Microsoft sued GPS maker TomTom over that very question among others.