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Linux? Who they?

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The brouhaha between Microsoft and Linux software vendor TomTom at the start of 2009 now seems - to Redmond at least - like a distant thunderclap. So much so that the firm spun out a program to licence the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) format yesterday.

Microsoft said it had created a “flexible licensing program” for its exFAT file system, which is the successor to the firm’s contentious FAT format and supports up to 256TB of data, following “widespread interest” from consumer flash memory device makers across the globe.

“exFAT is an ideal file system that delivers fast and reliable use of audio and video files. It is an important technology in Windows 7, and now that we are licensing this technology broadly to the industry, we want to encourage and support partners to build products that also contain this technology,” said Microsoft intellectual property licensing boss David Kaefer.

Sony, Canon, Sanyo and SanDisk have already agreed deals with Microsoft to licence the format. For that privilege, camera, camcorder and digital photo frame makers are charged a flat $300,000 licence fee. Meanwhile, phone, PC and network vendors that want to use the format in their devices will have to cough up a volume-licence fee.

In August, Microsoft inked an intellectual property licensing deal with Linux software vendor Tuxera Ltd when the exFAT program proper got underway.

In March, Microsoft signed an IP licensing deal with TomTom, after the companies exchanged legal threats in court over patents related to the FAT formats. The pair eventually agreed to play nice, much to the chagrin of many in the open source world.

However, yesterday's announcement failed to mention TomTom and Tuxera as vendors who were paying out licence fees to Redmond. Surely Linux isn't a dirty word, is it Microsoft? ®

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