Microsoft plans to add support for exFAT to the Linux kernel
Microsoft announced last Wednesday that they planned to add support for exFAT to the Linux kernel, a file system that they have profited off of licensing to Android device manufacturers for years. exFAT was a file system created in 2006 with the intention of improving upon the FAT file system, and it has better support and larger volume limits as a result. It’s a proprietary file system though, so typically you couldn’t use any of the “hundreds of millions” (as Microsoft puts it) of devices using exFAT with your Linux-based PC. That’s set to change.
exFAT is the Microsoft-developed file system that’s used in Windows and in many types of storage devices like SD Cards and USB flash drives. It’s why hundreds of millions of storage devices that are formatted using exFAT “just work” when you plug them into your laptop, camera, and car.
It’s important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate 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.
Microsoft has been delegating a lot of its efforts into Linux over the last year or so, which has ultimately made it possible to even build Android on a Windows 10 PC. The company has also done a number of other things for Linux, including open-sourcing PowerShell in 2016 and even going so far as to port VSCode for Linux as a Snap – a more Linux-friendly software distribution package. If you have a Linux-based PC, you’ll finally be able to access exFAT USB drives and SD cards with ease.