RIM signs deal to license Microsoft exFAT technology

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Microsoft issued a statement today announcing a new licensing deal with Research In Motion (RIM). RIM will be licensing Microsoft’s exFAT file system for use in BlackBerry mobile devices.

With the deal between Microsoft and RIM, RIM will be able to incorporate exFAT into its BlackBerry devices to allow them to share data across a broad range of platforms.

Microsoft has established exFAT as a virtual de facto standard file system across platforms and devices. A statement from David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property (IP) Licensing for Microsoft, proclaims, “This agreement with RIM highlights how a modern file system, such as exFAT can help directly address the specific needs of customers in the mobile industry.”

RIM licensed Microsoft's exFAT file system
for its BlackBerry devices.

The exFAT format has been in use by Microsoft since the Windows Vista days. It is the next generation replacement for FAT32 and NTFS, and has a number of advantages over those legacy formats. exFAT can support file sizes up to 256TB, and it improves on file transfer rates, and management of free space for greater efficiency in general.

The exFAT file system enables flash memory devices to work with file sizes five times greater than previous FAT technology. The semi-universal adoption of exFAT means that data can be easily exchanged between desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones, and other devices.

Apple has incorporated exFAT into Mac OS X, providing seamless interoperability for file storage between the latest versions of the Windows and Mac operating systems. Microsoft has also been increasingly successful at bringing other tech companies on board to support exFAT.

The deal with RIM follows closely on the heels of a similar licensing agreement between Microsoft and Sharp. Just over a month ago, Sharp licensed the exFAT technology for use in its Android smartphones.

Microsoft makes more money from licensing fees on Android devices than it generates from its own Windows Phone mobile platform. By some estimates, Microsoft raked in nearly a billion dollars in the last quarter from Android licensing fees alone.

The more companies license exFAT, the more exFAT becomes entrenched as a standard, and the more likely it is that other platforms and mobile device vendors will adopt it as well. This probably won’t be the last deal Microsoft signs to license exFAT.

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