Microsoft to replace FAT with exFAT
Microsoft has begun phasing out the FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem. First launched in 1977 as an eight-bit storage format for Microsoft's BASIC language, the file system is still quite popular on removable devices where FAT's 4GB file size limit doesn't matter. Microsoft signed agreements with five hardware vendors to license exFAT for use in peripheral devices, this file system was developed for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 in 2006 and fixes many of FAT's issues like support for files larger than 4GB, enhanced storage efficiency, and lower seek times in very large directories. The only downside however is that open-source operating systems like Linux are left out in the cold.
So far, exFAT's closed-source and proprietary nature, and its use of software patents to prevent third-party support being added without a licence, has limited its appeal. That appears to be changing, however, with Microsoft announcing deals with Sharp, Sigma, NextoDi, Black Magic and Atmos Global to add exFAT support to future products. Sharp will be adding the format to its future Android tablets, Sigma and NextoDi to its professional cameras and image storage products, and Black Magic and Atmos Global to their video recording systems.
These peripherals will be limited to use with selected operating systems thanks to a lack of exFAT support in third party products. Should they prove successful with consumers, the days of cross-platform devices could be drawing to a close and while Apple has licensed the format for OS X, open-source operating systems like Linux are likely to be left out in the cold.
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