“Microsoft loves Linux,” is the phrase used by the Surface maker to promote its support for integrating the Exfat file system into the Linux kernel. This allows Exfat file system to be used with legal certainty and, ideally, nobody has to expect complaints about their use. Of course, there are always exceptions when, for example, a patent troll becomes active.
The file system itself is already quite old. The first specification was published on January 8, 2008. Under Windows, however, the file system was usable earlier. For example, Service Pack 1 included Windows Vista with Exfat support. That was in 2007. Microsoft was so important to Exfat that even Windows XP got a feature-extending patch, even though the operating system should only receive security updates. The source is exfat in Windows CE.
In principle, Linux distributions are also capable of dealing with exfat file systems. The support of Microsoft but hopes to bring the driver directly into the kernel, which would be a significant upgrade. Corresponding discussions have already become known in July 2019. This is followed by the necessary facts from Microsoft. The company assures that Exfat can be used without any problems. For this, Microsoft has updated the exfat specification. This is just the first step to even use Exfat without risk. It is the first change to the specification since 2010. Microsoft removed, among other things, privacy clauses that were still present in the sixth version of the specification.
The Microsoft-supported integration into the Linux kernel would happen in a next step. The necessary patents become part of the Open Invention Network Pool, if accepted. That should be but a formality.
Exfat has become more important, especially because of the ever-growing volumes, especially since the file system is also suitable for mobile data storage. Although the classic FAT file system could be bent over for an astonishingly long time, it remained a problem due to aging, as the file size could not exceed 4 GB. Other file systems, however, have hardly prevailed in SD cards and the like in the mass. A volume must be formatted to at least one MB. Theoretically, the file system can manage 64 Zbytes. Microsoft currently recommends that you do not exceed the 512 TB.