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Microsoft Enters exFAT Licensing Agreement with Sharp

Microsoft and Sharp Corp. have inked a deal in which Sharp will license intellectual property (IP) associated with Microsoft's Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology for use in its Android-based devices.

Sharp joins Panasonic, Sanyo, Sony and Canon in licensing the exFAT technology for consumer devices. In addition, Microsoft announced in May that Aspen Avionics licensed exFAT technology for graphical navigation displays used in consumer aircraft.

Microsoft's announcement on Tuesday did not reveal the terms of the deal with Sharp.

Microsoft's exFAT is a successor technology to FAT that supports large multimedia file transfers between PCs and other electronic devices. The 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

Alternatives to exFAT on the Linux side include the Google-maintained Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) project, but it's still at the beta stage. Two companies have licensed Microsoft's exFAT for use in embedded systems and Linux systems, including Tuxera and Paragon Software Group.

Tuxera announced in July that the first Android devices using exFAT with Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format will hit retail markets globally this summer. SDXC is a standard for memory cards that uses Microsoft's proprietary exFAT technology. Tuxera also announced its NTFS for Mac 2012 release last month supporting Apple's Mountain Lion operating system release.

Paragon released its exFAT 9.0 Embedded driver technology in June for electronic devices. In addition, Paragon updated its NTFS for Mac OS X product for mobile devices and embedded systems in July, adding support for Mountain Lion.

About the Author

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

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