Microsoft has been increasingly embracing Linux through integration with its own services, including Windows 10. This week, the company has made a long-awaited decision that will allow its exFAT file format to work on the open source platform.
ExFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) is a file system that Microsoft introduced in 2006. It is a system for SD cards and flash drives, but it has always been proprietary. In other words, mounting SD cards and flash drives with exFAT files onto Linux natively has been impossible.
As you might expect, numerous third-party tools can be used to do the job but now Microsoft says it is supporting exFAT in the Linux kernel. Moreover, the company is publishing the technical specifications for exFAT.
Microsoft says the introduction furthers its interoperability with Linux:
“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.”
Microsoft is going a step further than just making exFAT part of the Linux kernel. The company wants the file system to become a part of the Open Invention Network's Linux definition. If accepted, the system would benefit “from the defensive patent commitments of OIN's 3040+ members and licensees,” the company says.
Full Linux Kernel on Windows 10
In May, Microsoft announced a full Linux kernel for Windows 10, available through Windows Subsystem for Linux 2.0.
It is worth pointing the kernel is not Windows 10 becoming a Linux distribution. The platform will continue to be based on its own Windows-based kernel. Microsoft is instead “shipping a real Linux kernel with Windows that will make full system call compatibility possible.”
Users will be able to update the kernel through Windows Update, which will also include security updates.