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Microsoft Expands exFAT Multimedia Licensing

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the exfat-is-not-skinny dept.

Microsoft 181

alphadogg writes "Microsoft Thursday announced a broadening of its licensing program around its exFAT file system, which is designed to handle large multimedia files. Microsoft hopes companies making devices such as cameras and smartphones will adopt the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology to support the sharing of audio and video files. The technology is available on Windows 7, Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Embedded CE."

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181 comments

Bill's Ex is fat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399020)

Ballmer too...

I wish... (2, Funny)

mb1 (966747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399032)

...I was exFAT.

Hmmm... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399050)

VENDER LOCKIN!!!!! Shreeeeek! Gasp! Pant, pant, pant!

EEE (4, Funny)

TheUni (1007895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399054)

Embrace

---- You are here ----
Extend

Extinguish

(Thanks slashdot formatting-filter for making me sacrifice my ascii art skills.)

Re:EEE (1)

mk_is_here (912747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399490)

EEE only applies to open standard Microsoft targets. And exFAT is a proprietary standard solely developed by Microsoft. What is the point for ruining their own standard and make their customers and manufacturers angry?

Re:EEE (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399564)

EEE only applies to open standard Microsoft targets.

It also applies to Microsoft partners. The multi-media product manufacturers (including cameras, media players etc. etc.) will be the long term target. Right now their functionality is being extended with the aim of Microsoft getting lock in. Microsoft is already one of them (with it's Windows Mobile phones and XBox at least). Later, when they need to expand their market, they will wipe out the multi-media companies that have become locked in.

The thing is, and I know this from working in a potential victim company and discussing with the person who was negotiating with MS for media standards, that the extinguish is at least five years away. Almost nobody working in such a company cares about that far in the future.

Only companies, like Oracle, which decide to fight Microsoft from the beginning as hard as they can, will ever survive long term in such a market.

Re:EEE (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399650)

It also applies to Microsoft partners. The multi-media product manufacturers (including cameras, media players etc. etc.) will be the long term target. Right now their functionality is being extended with the aim of Microsoft getting lock in. Microsoft is already one of them (with it's Windows Mobile phones

That's true, but outside the operating systems market Microsoft have found it very hard to achieve anything like the same amount of influence. Windows Mobile, for instance, just seems to get weaker and lose market share every year.

I smell DRM (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399072)

I smell DRM.

Re:I smell DRM (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399138)

You are just part of a bunch of folks who are apprehensive about whatever Microsoft does...even in good faith.

I do not want to come across as judgmental but I am sorry you just seem to be. Why do you always look at Microsoft will "all" the disdain? Why?

Microsoft is in the business of making money and licensing of its wares is just part of the game. What's wrong with that? Did you want Microsoft to go the Linux way and "donate" the software for "free?"

Get a life...Have some faith.

Re:I smell DRM (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399200)

Why do you always look at Microsoft will "all" the disdain?

Experience.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ... umm... you won't get fooled again.

Snide comments aside, it's simply that it's been too many times the case. Of course MS is in the business to make money. But to that end, vendor lock-in is one of the golden tickets to cash cows. If you can monopolize, you can charge whatever you want and nobody can undercut you. You can dictate price, conditions and format, what your user may or may not do with your tools and so on.

Yes, MS is in the business to make money. And doing what we "accuse" them to do is the easiest, most profitable and most sustainable way. So I guess we might be correct?

Re:I smell DRM (2, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400230)

That's right, we 'Won't get Fooled Again' ... hmmm

*Takes sunglasses off, a la Caruso*

It's time to ... cut the exFAT

Yeeeeeaaaaahhh!!!!!!!!!!

Re:I smell DRM (1)

krelian (525362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400634)

I must say that you really
*puts on sunglasses*
butchered this one.

Re:I smell DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400754)

you can charge whatever you want and nobody can undercut you. You can dictate price, conditions and format, what your user may or may not do with your tools and so on.

Hmm, now what company does this sound like...

Microsoft and Making Money (3, Insightful)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399218)

Microsoft is in the business of making money and licensing of its wares is just part of the game.

Creating a software product and selling it is fair enough. Creating a standard, expecting everyone to use it, then charging a license fee for it is _evil_.

That's like the power company deciding to sell you power. Then charging you license fees for installing power sockets in your home that conform to the standard.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (2, Funny)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399328)

You are obviously not a certified electrician.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399640)

Right, so the power companies own the electrician regulatory authorities?

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (3, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399444)

Creating a standard, expecting everyone to use it, then charging a license fee for it is _evil_.

What exactly is evil? Firstly, they haven't created a standard. If they had then surely they would have published the specifications somewhere. exFAT is a proprietry file format.

I don't know if they expect everyone to use it, although they may hope that everyone uses it. If it is a sin to hope that your product is popular, then most of the companies in the world are going to hell.

Finally, why is charging a license fee for something evil? If you don't want to pay to use it, then don't use it. That is the same argument as saying if you don't want people to see your source code, don't incorporate GPL code into it.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (5, Informative)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399466)

What exactly is evil? Firstly, they haven't created a standard. If they had then surely they would have published the specifications somewhere. exFAT is a proprietry file format.

I don't know if they expect everyone to use it, although they may hope that everyone uses it.

Everything that wants to SDXC will have to use exFAT. It's part of that standard. This is going to be inconvenient for anyone who wants to use their shiny new camera/camcorder on a Mac or linux netbook or someone else's XP machine.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399468)

Ugh. Make that "Everything that wants to use SDXC."

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (1)

huge (52607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399840)

Everything that wants to SDXC will have to use exFAT. It's part of that standard.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't SDXC defined by SD Association [sdcard.org] , not by Microsoft. Microsoft is one member of the association, I give you that, but there are several others as well. Unless Microsoft somehow coerced the association to select exFAT, I consider this to be a bad move by the association rather than Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (2, Insightful)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399972)

Unless Microsoft somehow coerced the association to select exFAT, I consider this to be a bad move by the association rather than Microsoft.

That may be. It has the same net result though.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (5, Insightful)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399478)

Since exFAT apparently is referenced in the SD standard, people will be forced to use it, if they buy any consumer electronic device containing an SD slot. They can't choose not to use it. It's a hardware standard.

So after exFAT, they won't be able to do what they do today, that is, freely exchange their media among their devices at their will. That's evil, and once again, it comes from Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400336)

They can choose to buy a camera which doesn't use SD cards. There are plenty of competing formats around. Sony would be more than happy for you to buy a Memory Stick using camera.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400452)

They can choose to buy a camera which doesn't use SD cards. There are plenty of competing formats around. Sony would be more than happy for you to buy a Memory Stick using camera.

Unfortunately, Memory Stick XC also uses exFAT as its filesystem. See the exFAT (or Memory Stick) pages. Those (SD and Memory Stick) seem to be the main formats at the moment.

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400466)

Damn. Make that "See the exFAT (or memory stick) pages on wikipedia."

Re:Microsoft and Making Money (2, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400612)

Since exFAT apparently is referenced in the SD standard, people will be forced to use it, if they buy any consumer electronic device containing an SD slot. They can't choose not to use it. It's a hardware standard.

So after exFAT, they won't be able to do what they do today, that is, freely exchange their media among their devices at their will. That's evil, and once again, it comes from Microsoft.

Is there any reason why you can't use UDF on flash media? It's designed for media that wears out with too many writes, so it seems like a perfect fit. And recent (since ~2000) versions support Unicode, so you can use Tengwar Sindarin for your file names.

Re:I smell DRM (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399310)

No, it's because everytime I come near a machine running windows, I lose around half of my nerves from all the

-EULAs,
-"Yes, please send all my personal data to Microsoft and/or McAffee, Delle, Evilcporp"-checkboxes,
-"YOU ARE A THIEF UNLESS YOU PROVE OTHERWISE"-'advantage'-dialogs,
-"Logging off"-Screens that stay on for 10 minutes before the computer shuts down
-"There are important updates", "there are more updates, "are you sure you want to do this", "I have a message" "ballons"
-"No you can't connect more than a single person via RDP, it's not allowed"
-"what do you mean 'virtualize'? Do you have a license for that ?"
-"Updating media player? Give us access to all your stuff"
-"non-localized EULAs"
-crashes
- Start your computer? Wait 15 minutes to go through through some updates.
- "Your Visual Studio 'forgot' how to display the search/replace dialog ? Why don't you reset all the personalizations you made, or start with a fresh profile?"

At this point I decided that I that really valued my sanity, and quit my job developing for .NET.

"Have some faith he" said...
"what's wrong with licensing?" he said..

"If we wanted Microsoft to 'donate' their software for 'free'" he asked.
No. Not really, me personally I am trying not using their stuff, and I am successfull not even being anywhere near it atm.

However I want Microsoft to 'donate' for 'free' dataformats they are using so that all of us could exchange data, and if we didn't like an application or one wasn't available for our platform that was using said format, we could write our own. And maybe if it was better than theirs they could say, "Hey look at what that bloke is doing, maybe if we would ask nicely, he would let us integrate parts of his functionality into our own application", and then I would say "Yes sure, I was also liking that one feature there, could I maybe also...? " and then they would say, "yes sure, why don't we invite this developer over there as well ?"
And then we could develop the stuff we need together and get to do much more of the dataprocessing done that we actually want to do, instead of fighting over stupid licenses or writing complicated copyprotection-software that never works.

A man can dream....

Re:I smell DRM (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400176)

You had me until "crashes". All software is vulnerable to bugs, and bugs aren't intentional.

Re:I smell DRM (5, Informative)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399344)

Are you serious? I wonder, have you ever heard of:

* The AARD code? [wikipedia.org]
* OOXML? [wikipedia.org]
* The Halloween documents? [catb.org]
* Embrace, extend and extinguish? [wikipedia.org]
* Samizdat? [wikipedia.org]

"Have some faith", you say? Indeed, to trust Microsoft to act ethically is a matter of faith: to believe in something incredible against all evidence.

Re:I smell DRM (2, Informative)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399662)

Microsoft does not do anything in 'good faith'. In this particular case it's obvious what Ms is trying to do - implement a proprietary filesystem which only their (most recent) OSes support, then get all the device makers to use it. Linux, Mac, and XP are left out in the cold and users must pay up for Windows 7 in order to use their new camera/whatever.

Then if it suits them, they might try to use copyright/intellectual property/patent claims to keep Linux from implementing it. Or threaten Linux using companies who are using the Linux implementation.

Re:I smell DRM (3, Insightful)

pesc (147035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400350)

...Microsoft is in the business of making money...

No, that is a secondary goal. The first priority for Microsoft is control, technology ownership and monopolization. Even at a financial loss.

See IE, XBOX, dotnet, Silverlight, etc, etc

Re:I smell DRM (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400530)

Microsoft is in the business of making money and licensing of its wares is just part of the game. What's wrong with that? Did you want Microsoft to go the Linux way and "donate" the software for "free?"

Get a life...Have some faith.

Well, what is wrong in the customers resisting the profit motivated actions of their vendors? Customers have as much right to protect their money as does Microsoft have for making their profits.

Some actions of the vendors, including Microsoft, enhances the productivity and competitiveness of their customers. Rightfully the vendors, including Microsoft, are entitled to a share of the extra profits generated. But some other actions by the vendor, does not enhance the productivity or competitiveness of their clients, and the customer would be better served by switching to a competitor of the current vendor. Actions by the current vendor that prevents this switch by vendor lock would hamper the clients from employing their money, maximizing their profits etc. And we have as much right to highlight to potential long term danger and make everyone aware of it.

Why is Microsoft and its apologists are so against people making informed decisions? Vendor lock is real. Companies are hurting from it.

Re:I smell DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399196)

I smell embrace, extend, extinguish.

Re:I smell DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399300)

exFAT has little to do specifically with audio/video - it's a filesystem designed for flash memory. TFA is misleading in this regard.

Re:I smell DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400424)

I smell stupid. Yes, its you.

Why? (3, Interesting)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399112)

Why, when you can pick up ext2 for free?

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

bucky0 (229117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399128)

To be able to read it on almost every computer available? There's a benefit to that when you have removable media, you know.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399166)

You'll need to develop and install a driver anyway, why not take an existing one that's unencumbered?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399266)

Says who? Most media from cameras work without drivers.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399284)

He was talking about a driver for the file system, not the device. exFat requires one becuause it's not supported out of the box on anything but Microsoft's newest OSes.

One step vs. three: convincing administrators (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400776)

If you use a widely supported file system on your camera, you have to develop a file system driver only for your camera. But if you use a Free file system on your camera, you have to develop a file system driver for your camera, develop a file system driver for Windows and Mac OS X, and convince PC administrators to install this file system driver for Windows and Mac OS X.

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

Renegrade (698801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399260)

Almost every computer available? Hardly. From the article: "The technology is available on Windows 7, Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Embedded CE". That's it. The Win 98, 2000, and XP systems you'll find in the wild won't support it. Some of the older systems (ie, XP) can be patched with an update from Microsoft, but are you going to carry a second removable media device with FAT16 or FAT32 around with you and install this patch everywhere you go? And bring XP or later as well for those machines running 98/NT4/2K? I don't believe there's Apple support either, and Linux support is still experimental.

I haven't seen the spec for exFAT (I'm not paying some fee to see a spec for some microsoft cruft), but I imagine it's another vendor-lockin, poor-performance-substitute abomination like NTFS was, or WinFS will be.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399406)

Some of the older systems (ie, XP) can be patched with an update from Microsoft, but are you going to carry a second removable media device with FAT16 or FAT32 around with you and install this patch everywhere you go?

Never mind the computers you can't patch. At the moment exFAT would be completely useless to me, because my own computers don't support it (I run Linux) and because all the other computers I use -- at university and its library -- don't support it either (still running XP; they might get the patch at some point though, but most likely it's going to take a while).

Re:Why? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399470)

WinFS? Really? :p

Re:Why? (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399942)

NTFS is actually a very good FS. The performance isn't so bad for desktop usage at least, and I've hard far fewer problems with it over the years than with say ext2/ext3 from a corruption point of view. It's easier and more reliable to read on my Mac (or on Linux boxes) than ext2/ext3 is (I had to uninstall the OS X drivers due to issue they caused, and the Windows support is a joke). The only downside is that nobody seems to be able to create a driver with reliable write support.

Re:Why? (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400054)

NTFS has too much overhead for removable media devices, which is why they created exFAT (FAT64).

Re:Why? (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400732)

but I imagine it's another vendor-lockin, poor-performance-substitute abomination like NTFS was, or WinFS will be.

You can believe that if you want. You have to show evidence for it though if you want others to believe it. What don't you like about the algorithms used in NTFS? Feature wise I cant think of any major issues in NTFS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_file_systems#Features [wikipedia.org]

Traditionally, Windows(NTFS) has always been good at random access I/O and Linux(ext2/3) at sequential I/O. My experience has been ext2/3 always lagged behind NTFS in handling large files (>3GB)

ext2 on windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400066)

If only there were ext2 drivers for Windows . . . [askvg.com]

Oh, wait.

(I personally recommend ext2fsd of those listed)

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399172)

simple, the only non-microsoft formats that windows supports out of the box are cd and dvd media.

i wonder how long it will take before microsoft gets a slap on the wrist over this...

new microsoft, same as old microsoft...

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399256)

What about UDF? It's already supported out of the box on removable media by Windows Vista and higher.
Open standard, tons of features, fast on flash media, broad adoption by existing operating systems and devices.

They should use it instead of inventing yet another file system with less features. And closed, too (so much for Microsoft's commitment to interoperability and open standards).

Re:Why? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399292)

UDF is also used on DVD Media. That is why it is supported.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399378)

Of course! But starting from Vista, it's supported on all other media, too. So what's the need for exFat? I think UDF might cover all of exFat's use cases, with no patents pending and secret specifications involved.

Re:Why? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399754)

Starting with Vista is the problem. There are still lots of XP machines around that would like to be able to write to memory cards from various devices (I think they can read from UDF already). OS X only got write support for UDF quite recently, so there are probably a lot of Mac users without it too. At the very least, you'd need to provide an IFS for XP that properly supported UDF. You could port a lot of it from FreeBSD, but it still might be cheaper just to license the MS patents.

Re:Why? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399806)

and to add insult to unjury, i think microsoft have already provided xp with a exfat patch that provides full read and write support...

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400922)

I think UDF might cover all of exFat's use cases, with no patents pending and secret specifications involved.
So where's the profit in that?

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

oglueck (235089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399258)

Well, the CD-ROM standard they support is "Joliet". Which is their own extension.... I wonder how long until they are going with patents after others implementing it.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399574)

Well, the CD-ROM standard they support is "Joliet". Which is their own extension.... I wonder how long until they are going with patents after others implementing it.

ISO-9660 doesn't support Unicode. Believe it or not, some languages use characters that aren't part of ASCII.

ISO-9660 doesn't support lower case letters, spaces and multiple dots in file/directory names.

There's nothing wrong with naming a directory "Family Photos 25.12.2009." - if Joliet didn't exist, we'd have to burn that to CD as "FAMILYPHOTOS25122009".

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399756)

if Joliet didn't exist, we'd have to burn that to CD as "FAMILYPHOTOS25122009".

You picked a bad example: you can create such a directory using RockRidge.

Your point is sort of correct however. Joliet is to Windows as RockRidge is to UNIX. Microsoft needed some way to support DOS style attributes and stuff like FAT32 short/long filenames, and neither ISO9660 nor RockRidge offered that support, so they created Joliet. Nothing much wrong with that.

Re:Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399852)

There's nothing wrong with naming a directory "Family Photos 25.12.2009." - if Joliet didn't exist, we'd have to burn that to CD as "FAMILYPHOTOS25122009".

Wrong. You COULD use rock ridge -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Ridge . Of course microsoft prefers to come up with its own thing.

Re:Why? (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400058)

Wrong. You COULD use rock ridge -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Ridge [wikipedia.org] . Of course microsoft prefers to come up with its own thing.

Yes, or I could use the Apple extensions, or the Amiga version of Rock Ridge, or god knows what else...

We are talking about Windows here - perhaps I haven't been clear enough.

Non-Windows systems have never required Joliet, but Windows has, because all other solutions are technically inadequate for that OS. For that very reason, Joliet is technically inadequate on MacOS and UNIX-like systems, the Apple ISO-9660 extensions are inadequate on UNIX, etc, etc.

Now, if you want to propose a unified spec that would be technically adequate for all operating systems and all file systems, then by all means, go ahead. In the meantime, Joliet is a technical necessity for Microsoft OSs.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400472)

Non-Windows systems have never required Joliet, but Windows has, because all other solutions are technically inadequate for that OS.

In what way is Rock Ridge "technically inadequate"? For that matter, why not just use UDF? It's designed for all optical media, not just DVDs, and has supported Unicode for almost a decade.

Re:Why? (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400756)

In what way is Rock Ridge "technically inadequate"?

Take a guess? Also, does it support Unicode?

For that matter, why not just use UDF? It's designed for all optical media, not just DVDs, and has supported Unicode for almost a decade.

UDF (consumer-level) is plagued with incompatibilities, not just on computers.

UTF-8 (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400818)

Also, does it support Unicode?

Anything that supports the full 8-bit range of code units supports Unicode in the UTF-8 encoding.

Re:Why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399884)

The problem there is that ext2 is as associated with Linux as FAT32 is with Windows. But it doesn't enjoy the ubiquity of FAT32 and probably never will. Even though ext2 drivers do exist for Windows, who is going to bother installing them to read large content from a flash drive?

The best chance ext2 / ext3 / ext4 or any other fs has for multimedia storage is when the user doesn't even know or care what file system is being used. I wouldn't give a damn what fs a NAS / streaming devices is using so long as it works and is reliable. I'm sure that exFAT would be largely redundant if someone defined a simple, clearcut way to break up large files into 4Gb chunks for easy transfer over FAT32.

no way (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399120)

next news story

Latest in a long line of suck (3, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399250)

FAT looks like someone's half-baked science project. FAT32 and exFAT (aka FAT64) just take the same mistakes and repeat them.

The fact that FAT32 is widely available is irrelevant; everyone will still have to install drivers.

So, yes, there's a demand for a simple (needing little CPU and RAM) filesystem. There's even an argument to be made that it should honor the same overall contracts that FAT does so that device manufacturers don't have to put lots of extra logic in. But it does *not* need to be the spawn of FAT.

Re:Latest in a long line of suck (3, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400000)

FAT looks like someone's half-baked science project.

Quite so. I remember writing an experimental filesystem for 3" (not 3 1/2") floppies on the Oric in 1982, making up my own concepts as I had no experience in the matter. It didn't really work but it wsa good learning. Then a couple years later I looked at the details of FAT and was surprised by how simple, similar and limited it actually was.

ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (1)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399252)

There are several quality open source programs I always use on Windows. Most know the big ones...Firefox and OpenOffice. Open Source advocates need to familiarize yourself with http://www.fs-driver.org [fs-driver.org] . They have created an ext2 driver for windows. If this driver gains in popularity, it will be one less "Microsoft tax" you pay on your gadgetry.

Re:ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (3, Insightful)

Sterling Christensen (694675) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399412)

That driver has a serious user-unfriendly limitation: No support for inodes larger than 128 bytes.

This means Linux users can't use GUI tools to format a USB stick (or a harddisk partition for sharing files with Windows) - they must use the command line and figure out how to persuade mkfs.ext2 not to default to 256 byte inodes. And this probably after learning of this limitation the hard way. Easy enough for you and me, but definitely not user friendly.

Also, this still leaves Windows users unable to format as ext2. A crashy driver is not enough.

That brings me to the third problem: I have yet to see a stable IFS (Installable FileSystem) driver for Windows. In my experience, perfectly stable Windows installations start crashing when an IFS driver is installed and in use. I suspect this part of Windows needs more debugging, or the API needs to be better documented, or both.

exFAT may be a patent encumbered extension to a lame filesystem, but the ext2 drivers for Windows are a lousy counter proposal.

Re:ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399434)

MacDrive seems stable enough, although it isn't free in any sense of the word.

Re:ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400192)

Though it blue-screened almost constantly when I started using it, ext2fsd [ext2fsd.com] is pretty stable, these days.

Re:ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (1)

mrt_2394871 (1174545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400140)

That driver also needs to officially support Windows 7.

On RC1, I have to (re-)assign drive letters on every boot into Windows.

Re:ext is on MSWindows but not widely known (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400878)

They have created an ext2 driver for windows.

Not everybody owns the PC that he uses. Can this driver be used by someone who does not have privileges to install programs (user outside the Administrators group) or to run executables from %USERPROFILE% or removable media (look up Software Restriction Policy on a search engine)? I'm thinking of a scenario involving a user at a public library, Internet cafe, or employer's break room. Linux has the same thing: user not in sudoers and /home mounted noexec respectively.

Just great... (5, Insightful)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399254)

And the best news...

The SD Association has adopted exFAT for its SDXC memory card specification.

So a mediocre but patent encumbered technology gets adopted as a standard because it runs out of the box on Windows. As Microsoft itself puts it [microsoft.com] , "exFAT is relatively simple". Hello, antitrust regulators? Hello, patent office?

Re:Just great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399302)

"mediocre"
Please justify your claim in the scope of intended use (portable media).
Otherwise it's just a troll.

And let me remind you, that ext2&3 do not support TB files without tweaking block size. And even after such tweaking SUSE 11 had huge problem with my single 2 TB file.

Re:Just great... (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399790)

It's still a FAT variant, which means that seeking in a file is an O(n) operation (it's O(log(n)) on most systems) in terms of the size of the file. They've added a free space bitmap, but creating and appending to a file is still O(n) in terms of the size of the disk, just with a smaller constant. Both the FAT and the free space bitmap need to be kept in RAM for reasonable performance. The FAT size depends on the disk size and the configuration, but a typical 32GB memory card will need 32MB for the FAT. This is a lot of memory for a mobile device. Something like the N900 has 32GB of Flash and only 256MB of RAM. You're using an eighth of the RAM just for the FAT. More if you add another memory card, and that's not counting the free space bitmap (also needs to be in RAM, but is quite a bit smaller), ACL or file caches or any other driver overhead.

Oh, and the FAT itself needs to have individual words updated in a large contiguous section, which is about the slowest operation possible for Flash. They could improve this by using -1 instead of 0 to indicate free sectors: then allocating a sector would not require erasing a flash sector, but deallocating would.

You are breaking the DMCA ;) (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400872)

You know, MS (and various closed source) things come with "You may not disassemble the product". I am trying to show what is wrong with using a frankestein filesystem which should be ditched the _day_ floppy diskettes were over.

What a sad thing that Linux, BSD and even Apple couldn't convince these SD card idiots even after the Tomtom wake up call. If it is the popularity, iPhone/iPod uses HFS+ journaled for years with gigantic files in them. Near all "media device" powered by Linux runs some sort of ext2/3.

I would personally trade NTFS with FAT, at least it is modern and journaled. BTW, am I reading wrong or Nokia still uses God damn FAT in a Linux powered device? They are beyond hopeless. If anyone talks about "but they come with FAT", please don't. A Nokia phone does a lot of things with a freshly installed memory card (creates own dirs), how hard would be to check if it is empty and format it with ext2? "Easily remove" was _never_ the case, all Nokia devices have "remove memory card" option for a very good reason.

What bothers me is, non technical people store impossible to reproduce memories (photos etc) to that backwards filesystem thanks to these SD card idiots. We will see their faces when MS becomes a patent troll or decides to punish some company for using Linux.

Re:You are breaking the DMCA ;) (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30401048)

BTW, am I reading wrong or Nokia still uses God damn FAT in a Linux powered device?

Only on removable flash cards. They use JFFS2 on the internal flash drives for Maemo devices, but FAT for removable media: people complain when they pull the flash card from their device and can't read it on a Mac or Windows PC (or even a FreeBSD machine if it uses JFFS2; it's Linux-only). The same with the phones. I transfer small files to and from my phone with Bluetooth, but it's much faster to just pop the card out and pop it in a card reader for large files. If it used JFFS2 (or ext2fs) then I wouldn't be able to read it in my Mac.

Re:Just great... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399732)

Why is it anti-trust? SD cards, although popular do not represent a monopoly of the flash media market. History has shown that multiple file structures on portable media doesn't work as HW makers don't want to spend time and money including a dozen or so extra drivers on their devices.

Don't want to create a piece of hardware with support for exFAT? Use another memory format. No one is forcing you to use it.

Re:Just great... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400002)

No one is forcing you to use it.

Really? So if I format the SD card with ext2 and shove it in my digital camera, it will successfully read and write photos to it, will it?

You keep using that phrase, I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Just great... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400292)

Someone held a gun to your head and said 'you must buy a camera which only supports SD cards'? Don't blame Microsoft for something that is both your and the manufacturers choice. As I said, you're free to pick a camera that supports something other than SD, the camera manufacturers are free to make cameras that support other formats.

SDHC readers (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399296)

This is only tangentially related to TFA, but lets have a go:

I can't read SDHC cards on any Windows PC I can find. I have one of those cheap USB readers. It used to work, then it stopped - I have no idea what changed. It's not hardware, because Linux machines will read it just fine. Yes, the card is >4GB, but as I said, Linux can read it, so this is not a hardware problem. Does anyone out there know how to fix this?

Re:SDHC readers (2, Informative)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399338)

Microsoft realeased an updated SDHCI driver [microsoft.com] for windows XP which is supposed to support SDHC cards. But since it has not been distributed with Windows Update, I suppose it could have some problem. I've never tested it.

Re:SDHC readers (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399518)

Can't be sure, but the filesystem & partition driver for windows USB devices is sometimes very temperamental. Generally both the partition table and the filesystem must exactly match what windows expects.

If you're feeling brave you could try a complete wipe of the SD card partition table and all.
ie: "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc"
Then reformat it under windows.

I would make sure I keep a copy of the existing partition table and filesystem though.

It also is supported by Windows XP (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399368)

You just have to apply the update, which you can get here [microsoft.com] . So has anybody benchmarked it to see how it compares to FAT?

And for those in Linux that want exFAT support according to the wiki [wikipedia.org] an opensource experimental driver is in the works, or you can purchase a proprietary driver derived from licensed MSFT source code from Tuxera.

That said I doubt we will be seeing FAT go anywhere for awhile, even though FAT is pretty long in the tooth. Sadly FAT is the only format that I know of that can be truly read by all three OSes out of the box.

Re:It also is supported by Windows XP (1)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399414)

And for those in Linux that want exFAT support according to the wiki [wikipedia.org] an opensource experimental driver is in the works, or you can purchase a proprietary driver derived from licensed MSFT source code from Tuxera.

The sad thing is, that exFAT is being patented. That means that Linux users will either have to be lucky enough to live in that shrinking part of the world where software patents are not allowed, or consult their lawyer before connecting their camera to their computer.

Oh well, at least the patent submission appears to contains a copy of the exFAT specification, so reverse engineering the format won't be that hard.

Re:It also is supported by Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399496)

Or suck it and see. If this is an obvious extension of something done previously and microsoft want to get money for their patent, then they'll need to pursue that in court.

Re:It also is supported by Windows XP (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399504)

The sad thing is, that exFAT is being patented. That means that Linux users will either have to be lucky enough to live in that shrinking part of the world where software patents are not allowed, or consult their lawyer before connecting their camera to their computer.

That's the same situation we have now with NTFS-3g and portable disks, really. Doesn't seem to have stopped people. Though to be fair, Microsoft could well be more aggressive about licensing exFAT since no-one is going to want to implement NTFS on a camera anyway.

Re:It also is supported by Windows XP (2, Insightful)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399794)

People can do without NTFS on a portable disk, because the only reason to use it is to interoperate with Windows. Which supports other file systems, so there is choice.
People won't be able to do without exFAT, because (if, and when, the standard gets adopted) it will be the file system used by consumer electronics devices. Which won't likely support more than one file system, so there will be no choice.

The beauty of digital storage for media is the freedom for the user to access his data in every way he sees fit. Closed standards for *personal* media storage are a step in the opposite direction.

"The technology" (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399394)

"The technology is available on Windows 7, Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Embedded CE".
I find this as technological as a fork or a pencil are "a technology". Why do trivial things so often get called "the technology"?

Re:"The technology" (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400988)

It's relative to the user. It's just like "a challenge", when you're an incompetent idiot everything looks like one.

Sounds like a weight loss program infomercial (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399408)

EX-FAT sounds like some kinda weight loss program. Or is msft really losing its weight in mobile space ??

this is an ad! (1)

mxh83 (1607017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399602)

"Microsoft hopes companies making devices such as cameras and smartphones will adopt the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology to support the sharing of audio and video files. The technology is available on Windows 7, Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Embedded CE." Ok, so why are you advertising it here? How do such topics make it to the front page?

already adopted and also for XP (1)

Nabbler (1683858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399680)

exFAT was adopted by the SD group as a standard for their super-high capacity SD cards, so that's covered already. And also it's available as an update for Windows XP too.

FAT patent expiry (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400306)

When does the FAT patent expire ? Getting manufacturers to adopt a new, patent encumbered, standard will give them another 20 years of harassing Linux users.

Hey Bill ... err ... Steve ... just make it free (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400356)

... and they will come!

No Mac? No, thanks. (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400400)

Seriously, until and unless there's (at a minimum) royalty-free supported drivers for non-Microsoft and pre-Vista (not just XP, I use 98 in some situations) operating systems, I don't see this going anywhere.

MTP (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400550)

If I were developing a multimedia box, or an essentially closed system (e.g. a satnav), what possible reason have I got for using exFAT? The reality is I could just shove ext2 or any other random fs on my device and it doesn't matter.

And if its a device that plugs into a PC, why not use MTP? After all, MTP is fairly decent these days and it means that USB stick, or media player or whatever you plug into your computer (of any kind), can implement any fs its little heart desires. It doesn't matter because it is under the covers. If the device wanted it could even store files with FAT32, using MTP to break them up into chunks as they were read or written.

Perhaps MTP is too much for some simpler devices. It isn't beyond the bounds of reason to envisage a simple standard for multi-part files, (e.g. a manifest + file chunks) that would allow large files to be copied to and from even FAT32 devices. Linux could even take the lead here by implementing that support in its FAT32 device driver. i.e, that if you copy a > 4Gb file to a FAT32 partition, that it is physically split up into chunks but appears as a single file to the caller.

sharing of audio and video files (1)

Ozric (30691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400714)

We all know it's nice to share, or that is the way I was raised, but the last time I checked that kind of activity could land your ass in JAIL.

Kinda of a mix message, No?

Could any MS file system be that impressive? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400964)

They are going to try and foist on the world a gussied up FAT, and the question really is, when there's a small army of uber geeks writing free file and open source file systems for Linux, could a gussied up FAT be worth actually licensing? That's one thing that actually sucked me into Linux, is that, you have -so many- choices of file systems available, and these days if it has a file on a device of some kind, Linux can read it.

I don't mean to knock the possibility that some software can command a premium of paying for it, but, I think by its very nature - the smallish scope of the project, the well defined goals, and the diverse range of existing choices... do you really need to pay for a file system? I mean, NTFS is Microsoft's crown jewel file system, and based on my own benchmarking, and gut feel, I think EXT3 is faster, and its free, and if Microsoft can't beat that, why would I even consider a FAT variant, which is worse than NTFS by Microsoft's own admission.

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