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Avionics Company Signs Microsoft exFAT Licensing Deal

Aspen Avionics Inc. signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft on its Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology, the companies announced today.

Microsoft's exFAT technology is typically used in Flash drives or other devices that need greater file size-handing capabilities than afforded by Microsoft's legacy FAT32 file system. Aspen Avionics, a maker of general avionics displays, agreed to the exFAT licensing deal because its graphical displays require those extended capabilities, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft first began including exFAT with Windows when it rolled out Vista Service Pack 1. Via an update, exFAT is also capable of working with Windows XP.

Microsoft's exFAT technology bolsters file handling above 32 GB, up to 256 terabytes. Microsoft claims that exFAT can handle "more than 4,000 RAW images, 100 HD movies or 60 hours of HD recording in a single directory," according to its licensing page. The Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format, backed by the SD Association, which focuses on standards for memory cards, uses Microsoft's proprietary exFAT technology.

A number of companies have agreed to exFAT licensing, according to Microsoft. Examples include Casio, Fujifilm and Leica. However, Aspen Avionics represents the first aviation firm to license exFAT, according to a Microsoft blog.

Microsoft's proprietary exFAT has been a stumbling block of sorts on the Linux side, although two companies have taken the licensing to support it. One of those companies is Tuxera, which did early open source NTFS work, signing an intellectual property agreement with Microsoft in August of 2009. Tuxera claims to have had the first legal access to Microsoft's exFAT technology to support various embedded systems. Another company that uses Microsoft's exFAT technology in Linux-based systems is the Paragon Software Group. Paragon supports embedded technologies via its Universal File System Driver.

Google maintains an exFAT project for GNU-based Linux implementations via Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE). FUSE is software released under the GNU General Public License that helps users create file systems "without editing [operating system] kernel code," according to this Wikipedia description. Google's project is still at the beta stage, but some writers don't see much progress on Linux leveraging Microsoft's proprietary exFAT.

Microsoft's licensing on its older FAT technology has been a lightning rod of sorts with the Linux community. In 2009, Microsoft signed a licensing deal with TomTom, an Amsterdam-based maker of GPS devices for cars. The litigation surrounding the TomTom deal prompted the Linux Foundation to offer help to organizations, so that they could completely remove Microsoft's FAT file system from their Linux-based products.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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