Microsoft's removal of its hold on patents to the exFAT file system, through the Open Invention Network (OIN), has made it available on the Linux kernel for use by the open source community.
The company joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) in late 2018 in a move perceived as its endorsement of open source, which it essentially agreed to grant royalty-free and unrestricted license to its patent portfolio. Microsoft has now also removed its hold on the patents related to the exFAT file system, which Linux users have had to undergo hard times dealing with on their PCs.
The exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) is a file system released by Microsoft for Windows, which made debut with Windows CE 6.0., and had remained a proprietary software, only available to paid Microsoft subscribers.
Albeit, the exFAT file system is also compatible with macOS, but Linux users had been in pains dealing with exFAT-formatted SD cards and flash drives on their PCs. And in comparison to the erstwhile FAT32 which only support file size of up to 4GB, the exFAT allows nearly unlimited for both partition and file sizes.
Though, there's FUSE-based workarounds implemented to achieve a level of compatibility with Linux, and Samsung haven also published its own Linux driver for the exFAT file system, but still nothing worked better.
Microsoft maintains that this latest addition to the open source patent consortium, is the company’s effort to ease things up for Linux users and in fact, the whole of the open source community.
Additionally, the company has also integrated its software with Linux via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 10.