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Microsoft plans to sink LINUX using FAT patents

Microsoft may not be so foolish. SCO's licenses dipped as a result of their fight with Linux. They will simply make heroes out of Linux companies unnecessarily.

Monday, June 21, 2004

So, Microsoft has developed FAT since '76, and here, nearly 30 years later when a lot of other systems have included support for the FAT system, they decide to patent.

I don't know how patenting works in detail, but really... isn't it a long shot for MS?

And do they really do this in order to sink Linux? MS is committed to Open Source software. For example, MS is a patinum sponsor of the O'Reilly Open Source Convention
( ).

Martin A. Bøgelund
Monday, June 21, 2004

How do you come up with 1976 for FAT?

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 21, 2004

Ah from here:

"The first FAT file system was developed by Microsoft in 1976. That system was based on the BASIC programming language and allowed programs and data to be stored on a floppy disk. Since that time, the FAT file system has been improved upon multiple times to take advantage of advances in computer technology, and to further refine and enrich the FAT file system itself."

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 21, 2004

I wasn't aware that patents were retroactive, so there's no risk of Microsoft being able to collect royalties all the way back to the beginning of Linux. 

Besides, all a patent is is a right to sue somebody.  There really isn't "Linux" out there to be sued, despite what SCO seems to think - there's a few large angry companies with lots of lawyers, like IBM, and then there's a million little guys with no money. 

The best MS could probably get out of this is a couple dollars from each Linux user they can catch, and the removal of Linux's ability to read and write FAT partitions.  It'll be sad, but not the end of Linux - FAT filesystem access is convenient, but it isn't core to the product.  I'd worry more about vendors such as Apple, who sell computers that actually require the ability to read FAT-formatted media as an important marketing point.

Monday, June 21, 2004


You asked
> How do you come up with 1976 for FAT?

From the link in the first posting:
"Microsoft claims to have developed FAT in 1976 and ..."

RTFA ;-)

Martin A. Bøgelund
Monday, June 21, 2004

What the hell runs FAT anymore.  Certainly no new version of Windows.  The 95 & 98 machines that do have it are pushing their MTBF of the hard drive now.  So as FAT goes away the patent is worthless.  I certainly don't get the feeling that Microsoft lulled us in and then locked us out.

Monday, June 21, 2004

eg: digi cameras use it, usb pens, etc. so there will be lot of money in this

Monday, June 21, 2004

The actual target would probably be PC-DOS.

PC-DOS is still a competitor to MS-DOS. PC-DOS is offered by IBM. Both are used in embedded systems.

Just a thought.

Green Pajamas
Monday, June 21, 2004

Just an FYI, the patent is only for the Long Filename part of FAT32.  It's not a patent of FAT in general.

Don't use long filenames and you're ok.  I guess the question is, how many of these devices are using FAT32?  Most digital cameras I've used still rely on 8.3 filenames.

To be fair, what Fat32 does is pretty unique (from what I've seen).  Are there any other filesystems that do the "dual-filename" thing?

Myron A. Semack
Monday, June 21, 2004

"PC-DOS is still a competitor to MS-DOS"

Didn't PC-DOS start as an early version of MS-DOS they licensed (or just bought), source code and all? So they might have some underlying right to the technology in it.

Monday, June 21, 2004

"it is "goodnight Vienna" for Linux, which also uses the nearly ubiquitous file system."

My god, that FUD really is flying thick and fast isn't it...

Katie Lucas
Monday, June 21, 2004

"Besides, all a patent is is a right to sue somebody.  There really isn't "Linux" out there to be sued"

But lots of users, as you point out.  All they have to do is start using RIAA tactics: every day, sue 100 Linux FAT users.  How long until people simply stop using FAT on Linux to avoid getting hauled to court?

Of course, this begs the question of how they'd find out who's using FAT.  I guess they'd have to go after FTP sites that host source code for Linux FAT, which might not be nearly as effective.  We'd just exchange FAT code through other media.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Myron: umsdos does -- and adds Unix owner/group/permissions/links, too.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

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