Microsoft signs licensing agreement with RIM for exFAT file technology

By Adam Zeis on 18 Sep 2012 12:07 pm EDT

Press Release

Microsoft Signs Licensing Agreement With Research In Motion

exFAT file technology helps mobile industry leader provide cutting-edge capabilities to customers.

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. announced today that Microsoft and Research In Motion (RIM) have signed a patent licensing agreement that gives RIM broad access to the latest Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) for certain BlackBerry® devices of RIM. exFAT is a modern file system from Microsoft that facilitates large files for audiovisual media and enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and other electronic devices.

exFAT improves on its predecessor, the FAT system, and greatly expands the size of files that flash memory devices can handle by five times over previous FAT technology. It also increases the speed with which those files can be accessed. The exFAT file system not only facilitates large files for use of audiovisual media, it enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and a variety of electronic devices.

"Today's smartphones and tablets require the capacity to display richer images and data than traditional cellular phones," said David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property (IP) Licensing at Microsoft. "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."

Microsoft's Commitment to Intellectual Property Collaboration

Microsoft offers flexible IP licensing programs that give companies access to many of the foundational technologies in its own products, allowing those companies to build devices, applications and services that work seamlessly with each other.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 1100 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft's significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.

Microsoft has entered into similar licensing agreements with several leading consumer electronics manufacturers through its IP licensing program, including Panasonic Corp., SANYO Electric Company Ltd., Sony Corp. and Canon Inc.

More information on Microsoft's IP licensing program is available at, and information specifically related to Microsoft's exFAT licensing program is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Microsoft signs licensing agreement with RIM for exFAT file technology


I'm hoping for Office 2013 on playbook and bb10! there is a version running on ARM cpu's, so this may be possible?!
oh, and don't forget skype!
these two would be AWESOME!

damn, too fast. okay, boring news. I don't care about a filesystem, fat32 always worked for me..

To be nice I could say you have a really long wait before you will see a Playbook version of Office 2013. To be more direct, it would be more straightforward to say it is never going to happen. Microsoft is almost certainly developing an IOS version of key apps, although they continue to evade the subject. The ARM version, on the other hand, is designed specifically for the Windows 8 kernel shared by Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and the various versions of Windows Server 2012. It is not something that will run on any ARM processor, it requires the Windows kernel, not any of the various Linux based OS versions. At this point they are supposedly not developing Office for Android. Why would they develop one for RIM products?

If I recall- FAT helps devices access larger storage. You could be looking at BBs that can access 1 or 2 TB microSD cards or flash drives.

That and files can be larger than the 4gb limitation that FAT32 has (what most flash memory uses). At least I think this is the case with exFAT.

FAT (File Allocation Table) is the storage subsystem designed by Microsoft pre IBM PC days. It's original iteration was an 8 bit system (FAT8 - max file size). It has since been expanded to 12 bits(FAT12 - 255MB max disk size), 16 bits(FAT16 - 4,095MB max disk size), 32 bits (FAT32 - 2,047 GB max disk size). MS went on to create other file formats including the proprietary FATX (used in the XBOX)and exFAT systems.

exFAT does have several benefits over FAT32 specifically for external flash drives including breaking the 4 GB file size limit of FAT32, it is more space-efficient for files smaller than 64 KB on large volumes and, can be faster than quick implementations FAT32 used for storage in single directories.

Of course MS still maintains NTFS as their key file system for their computers as it has 16TB max file sizes but it is much less suited for embedded devices and flash drives.

exFAT, unlike most of the other FAT variants, is a proprietary format so can't be used with devices not supporting it - and is covered by MS patents so you need a license - hence the above article. I suspect RIM is just ensuring interoperability and will support multiple formats.

MicroSDXC cards with a 1 or 2 TB capacity are a theoretical possibility, not a reality. So far people cannot push past 128GB and that is cost prohibitive for most. As far as I know, that is also for standard size SDXC cards.

Big Problem to Deliver BB10 Phones. They don't have implemented their OWN FilesSystem, they change to M$ exFAT and RIMM will SPEND MONEY --> MORE DELAY !

Doesn't it just mean video and music streaming will be more fluid on certain bb10 devices? no buffering icon in the middle of our streams?

This has nothing to do with Skype.

"Seamlelss data portability"

Think, much larger storage, and wireless data transfer/syncing/the media and file sync capability that we've wanted for RIM ever since cloud storage was a thing

This could also pertain to handling direct USB access, as exFAT is commonly used as the file system of larger USB devices.

This is great news for RIM products going forward... However, if you read the article on iBGR, it paints a totally different picture (are you surprised?).

I can see the iBGR headline now after the first weekend that BB10 is released "BB10 outpaces sales of iPhone 5 and has better specs... but it was delayed for months and should have sold twice as many units... so we considered it a failure.. and you should too because RIM sucks"... signed iBGR staff.


Yep. Even if BB10 is a huge initial success their articles will do their best to seed doubt in the minds in anyone may have been willing to give RIM a chance. :(

I'm betting their lead article on BB10 launch day will be something like "10 reason NOT to buy a BB10 phone"...

Unfortunately, its not just bgr that does this stuff :/

This is nothing really important. If you want your device to talk to a PC then you need to license use of Microsoft's file system. It's just a crossing the T's and dotting the i's kind of deal.

The heading should read:

RIM signs licensing agreement with Microsoft for exFAT file technology.
Not the other way around.

Does that mean bb10 can now play large MKV files? En wat kind of file system does apple use? How does it compare?

But how come windows CANNOT create or successfully format exFAT file systems? I'll format my media cards for fat32 until windows can actually do that. Linux is a winner for supporting so many filesystems. I'm hoping it has full support for exFAT soon, then I don't need to fight with windows to format a volume. Lol

I haven't a clue as to what you mean. You have been able to create and format exFAT file systems since Vista. Right click on the media card in Windows Explorer, choose format, and pick exFAT as the file system.

Easy Guys! This does not mean a "PARTNERSHIP" with Microsoft. Its merely a license to use an updated standardized file system. So that does not mean Skype or MS office for Blackberry. Did you guys hear about ALL Yahoo employees being told that they are getting off the Blackberry platform? They can choose ANY other phone/platform they want. If BB10 doesn't come out of the gates "guns blazing" I am afraid I'll be jumping ship. Bye bye International BBM friends. And trust me...If i am jumping ship, everyone of my BBM friends will too. YOU HEAR THAT RIM?

No, they can't. They have a very limited choice of large all touch phones, plus the iPhone. If you don't like either Apple or big phones, you're stuffed.
Yahoo is obviously looking to save IT costs by using Exchange only. This is a reasonable decision. As RIM doesn't have a BB 10 product yet, they have nothing to offer (and the Lumia isn't out yet).

Mind you, if Yahoo suffers a massive data loss due to poor phone security (they have to support 2 flavors of Android, win 8 and iOS) I fear I might be roflmao.

Wow, you either have some serious influence over all your friends or you have only a couple of friends..

Wow, you either have some serious influence over all your friends or you have only a couple of friends..

This is not really big news. Interesting, yes, but not anything really remarkable. Also: MS is no longer the axis of evil (hasn't been for ages). MS *bends over backwards* to ensure windows works with just about everything. Apple is the real "evil empire". MS for the most part plays nice with the industry. Apple? Not so much with their "my way or the highway" policies. They seem to be taking lessons from microsofts 90s playbook.

Personally, I would seriously doubt this has anything to do with BB10 at all. If RIM was still working on file format and storage for BB 10 devices then the release of the first phones would be much later than early 2013. I expect that it is probably part of long term planning for future devices. BTW, last I checked most Linux based OS versions are not compatible with exFAT and I doubt QNX is either. That would again suggest to me that this is part of longer term planning for future implementation. In the OS world, exFAT is compatible with recent versions of the MacOS and versions of Windows back to Vista and the parallel sever OSs. I think there is some capability with XP SP3 as well but I don't think that included full implementation. Outside of those OS versions, exFAT has gained traction as a clean, large capacity, format for storage for manufacturers designing devices that run something proprietary as an OS (rather than a Windows, MacOS, IOS, or Linux variant). The device examples of which I am most aware are things like newer Nikon DSLRs such as the D7000.

2 cents ... not a penny more.

MS supporting* an "opponent" in a critic situation ... oh, wait ... can't remember exactly when it occurred last time. Neither the effects it had on this "opponent" shape. Do you ?

* ActiveSync, Office365, exFat ... what else ?

Now RIM must ship exFAT support (and SDXC support as well) for the launch of BB10 devices, not 1 year after the launch....

that's painful to wait forever for thing that are never pushed to customers (theme studio 7).