Slashdot: "Microsoft to Charge for FAT File System"

patrick0brien

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 24, 2002
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The West Loop
Article

-All

For those who are familiar with the SCO comedy, this differs in several key points.

1. It is confirmed that MS owns active, and enforceable patents here.

2. This is not a litigation.

3. Due to patent ownership, MS has the perfect right to file a civil action for those who use the FAT system and don't pay, again, harkening to the legitimate patents laid out on paper.

What is my point then?

This is why Monopolies are illegal. The problems of Monopolies isn't in the here and now, it is in the future when they begin to squeeze.

So, I say to this legitimate, but low, action by MS: "And so it begins"

This is why I specifically avoid WMV and WMA files.
 

stoid

macrumors 601
The thing is, Microsoft is going to spin this in such a way so that the MS users feel grateful for having used it for free for however many years, and will gladly bend over, get ass ****ed and shell out the money. :mad: :mad:

This **** makes me want to scream!!
 

Stelliform

macrumors 68000
Oct 21, 2002
1,721
0
M$ has been searching heavily to improve revenue since upgrades are not selling as well as they used to.

So I am not surprised. I really thought that they were going to step up RIAA like attacks to increase revenue. They might still, but they also might see that the RIAA isn't making friends.

But the important thing....

Will this affect apple, since we can read fat formatted devices?
 

patrick0brien

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 24, 2002
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Originally posted by Stelliform
Will this affect apple, since we can read fat formatted devices?
-Stelliform

I would like to read the patents on this. The answer would be in there. The patent surely supports the format of the media itself, however, I strongly doubt that it would cover the ability to read/write to the media.

But again, I'd like to read the patents to see for sure.
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
15,256
3,391
after reading through the slashdot comments and the page...

it's not clear if this definitely affects all manufacturers or not.

arn
 

psxndc

macrumors regular
May 30, 2002
216
0
nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by patrick0brien
This is why Monopolies are illegal. The problems of Monopolies isn't in the here and now, it is in the future when they begin to squeeze.
Nitpicky correction (and I give you points for getting the idea right): Monolpolies are not illegal. Microsoft could in fact be the only producer of OS's in town and it would not be illegal. Using your monopoly power to harm competition is what violates the Sherman Anti-trust act and is illegal. You have the policy right, I just wanted to clarify your first point.

That being said, I don't see this as a monopoly issue. Vendors are free to use whatever filesystem they choose and MS isn't punishing them if they do not AFAIK. They are simply licensing their patented technology. It's slimey they're doing it after everyone has adopted it, but it's not a monopolistic issue.

-p
 

jettredmont

macrumors 68030
Jul 25, 2002
2,714
307
Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by psxndc
That being said, I don't see this as a monopoly issue. Vendors are free to use whatever filesystem they choose and MS isn't punishing them if they do not AFAIK. They are simply licensing their patented technology. It's slimey they're doing it after everyone has adopted it, but it's not a monopolistic issue.

-p
They are free to use whatever format they desire, except that Windows (ie, 95%+ of all desktops) will not read their drives without requiring the user to install additional software drivers.

Especially as many computers are "locked down" in a corporate setting, how many flash-key devices do you think would sell if you had to install a driver on the machine prior to using it?

THAT is where the monopoly comes in: the monopoly OS ONLY recognizes patented and expensively-licensed file systems which are manufactured by the OS maker itself.

This is GIF profit strategy redux, except that there's little chance that an industry-wide switch to an "alternative" FS will save the day (as JPG/PNG in concert allowed many companies to just drop GIF support until the patents lapsed).
 

wymer100

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2002
53
0
Good point about the legalities of monopolies. They aren't illegal until they start to exploit their power.

This issue actually sounds less like SCO and more like the soap opera of the Rambus lawsuits involving SDRAM. If I remember correctly, Rambus conveniently "forgot" about its patent portfolio until everyone adopted SDRAM and then they tried to collect royalties. Just a thought.
 

patrick0brien

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 24, 2002
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The West Loop
Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by psxndc
Nitpicky correction (and I give you points for getting the idea right): Monolpolies are not illegal. Microsoft could in fact be the only producer of OS's in town and it would not be illegal. Using your monopoly power to harm competition is what violates the Sherman Anti-trust act and is illegal. You have the policy right, I just wanted to clarify your first point.

That being said, I don't see this as a monopoly issue. Vendors are free to use whatever filesystem they choose and MS isn't punishing them if they do not AFAIK. They are simply licensing their patented technology. It's slimey they're doing it after everyone has adopted it, but it's not a monopolistic issue.

-p
-psxndc

Yeah, you're right. I didn't want too technically legal about the happenings, forgive me for tying the layman's term of Monopoly to formal antitrust in that regard.

-wymer100

Absolutely. This is what is known among IP attorneys as Ambush Enforcement.
 

psxndc

macrumors regular
May 30, 2002
216
0
Re: Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by jettredmont
Especially as many computers are "locked down" in a corporate setting, how many flash-key devices do you think would sell if you had to install a driver on the machine prior to using it?

THAT is where the monopoly comes in: the monopoly OS ONLY recognizes patented and expensively-licensed file systems which are manufactured by the OS maker itself.
You're making two different arguments:

On one hand you're saying moving forward (because all existing ones will still work regardless if they are in violation of the license) that all flash-key drives will be made to either be incompatible or the company will have to pay a license fee. You feel this is wrong because keychain makers theoretically HAVE to pay the fee since Windows is on so many desktops. The result is somewhat unfair and I will concede this point.

And on the other hand, you're saying that it will cause a detriment to keychain makers because Windows only recognizes FAT file systems. Following that though, to be fair to the keychain makers, you're saying that Windows should support all existing extfs2, ReiserFS, XFS, ad naseum because to do otherwise would be unfair since keychain makers that do decide to switch have to have their drives be compatible somehow? I don't buy this. Windows can interface with whatever it wants and does not have to support a single product that people think it should but doesn't. It's a product that people choose to buy. If it does not have the features you want, or connect to the peripherals you have, don't buy it. People have the option not to and MS shouldn't be bound to implement features in it's products that it doesn't want to.

-p
 

Hes Nikke

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2001
94
13
Re: Re: Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by psxndc
You're making two different arguments:

On one hand you're saying moving forward (because all existing ones will still work regardless if they are in violation of the license) that all flash-key drives will be made to either be incompatible or the company will have to pay a license fee. You feel this is wrong because keychain makers theoretically HAVE to pay the fee since Windows is on so many desktops. The result is somewhat unfair and I will concede this point.

And on the other hand, you're saying that it will cause a detriment to keychain makers because Windows only recognizes FAT file systems. Following that though, to be fair to the keychain makers, you're saying that Windows should support all existing extfs2, ReiserFS, XFS, ad naseum because to do otherwise would be unfair since keychain makers that do decide to switch have to have their drives be compatible somehow? I don't buy this. Windows can interface with whatever it wants and does not have to support a single product that people think it should but doesn't. It's a product that people choose to buy. If it does not have the features you want, or connect to the peripherals you have, don't buy it. People have the option not to and MS shouldn't be bound to implement features in it's products that it doesn't want to.

-p
now look at the other side of the coin.

name any OS that is in use today not made by Microsoft that only supports it's native filesystem.

i find it sickening that MS pretends that it is the only game in town by ignoring the rest of the market and doing things their way :p (at least Word and Excel know how to read files in other formats, to bad windows doesn't do the same for other filesystems)
 

tbdavis

macrumors newbie
Oct 7, 2003
5
0
Re: Re: Re: Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by Hes Nikke
name any OS that is in use today not made by Microsoft that only supports it's native filesystem.
Actually, Microsoft does support the use of non-native file systems. Windows NT, 2000, and XP all allow for Installable File Systems. It would be possible for Apple to write an IFS driver so that Windows could access drives formatted to use HFS+. And for devices like the iPod which come with so much other software anyway, what's one more driver?

The thing about this that's interesting to me is that Microsoft is going to be abandoning the FAT32 system in the not too distant future. When Longhorn debuts, Windows users will have a new file system called WinFS. This looks to me like Microsoft wants external device manufaturers to look for some other method of accessing their data rather than depending on Microsoft to provide support for FAT32, which they plan to dump.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
14,139
170
Lard
Equally, I wonder if IBM would be willing to provide some incentive to Microsoft to pay for MS' use of HPFS, errrr, NTFS. ;)
 

timdorr

macrumors newbie
Dec 9, 2002
22
0
A license for manufacturers of certain consumer electronics devices. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit for each of the following types of devices that use removable solid state media to store data: portable digital still cameras; portable digital video cameras; portable digital still/video cameras; portable digital audio players; portable digital video players; portable digital audio/video players; multifunction printers; electronic photo frames; electronic musical instruments; and standard televisions. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per licensee. Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft.
Oh darn! Now my iPod's gonna cost $499.25 :rolleyes:
 

Nermal

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 7, 2002
18,877
1,350
New Zealand
I read that the licence fee had to be paid if the manufacturer formatted the drive/memory stick with the FAT filesystem. So, you simply sell iPods unformatted, and get the user to format them at their end, probably with a Setup Assistant to get it done easily.
 

illumin8

macrumors 6502
Apr 20, 2003
427
0
East Coast, US
Originally posted by arn
it's not clear if this definitely affects all manufacturers or not.
I think Apple is safe on this one. Think about it: The iPod is just a Firewire hard drive. It is formatted by your Windows PC, which already has a license for Fat32. I don't think MS would even try to charge Apple for this. As I recall, the iPod comes unformatted (3G version), and the Software Updater formats it for you when you first install it.
 

ipiloot

macrumors member
Oct 22, 2001
93
0
Cross-licencing

I think that there was something about cross-licencing of technologies when M$ bought Apple stock and made the famous 5-year agreement with Steve. Wasn't it?
 

cshander

macrumors newbie
Dec 4, 2003
2
0
Open Standards

I followed the link that takes you to the MS page about the FAT32 licensing, and noticed another link on their page called "citizenship". If you go to this link you will read how Microsoft supports open standards (and how ethical and upstanding they are, etc). So now that FAT32 is basically a standard for storage media (something that really should be an "open standard") Microsoft is going to charge for it at a time when there really is no reasonable alternative - you can either pay them, develop your own filesystem, or stop making storage products. I also remember a quote from a Microsoft executive regarding iTunes for Windows and exclusively working with the iPod, saying that "Microsoft customers want choices".

Such a reasonable choice. Pay us or stop making storage devices.

Isn't there something regarding trademarks and patents that if you don't enforce them within a certain time after receiving the trademark or patent you lose rights for royalties?
 

stoid

macrumors 601
Re: Re: Re: nitpicky correction...

Originally posted by psxndc
Windows can interface with whatever it wants and does not have to support a single product that people think it should but doesn't. It's a product that people choose to buy. If it does not have the features you want, or connect to the peripherals you have, don't buy it. People have the option not to and MS shouldn't be bound to implement features in it's products that it doesn't want to.

-p

Unfortunately, MS has an overwhelming share in the market, and does everything it can to leave competitors without a leg to stand on. With implementation of .NET in Longhorn, it is possible that Microsoft may even be wrangling in the entire internet. The internet was developed so that anyone could freely access information, but Microsoft seems to have every desire to stifle that freedom. Unfortunately, the alternatives to Microsoft are hardly even known. At my college few people even realize that my Apple laptop is not a Microsoft 'whore' machine. Microsoft is killing choice, not making choice. It is a very dangerous future ahead of us in the computer world. One misstep could lead to a complete MS monopoly and the end of free computing as we know it.
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
This was to be expected.

This was to be expected. Supposedly Microsoft is going to start selling licenses to it "Intellectual Property" (more like stolen property) So companies will have the ability to access the more proprietary side of Windows. This is a good thing when it comes to compatibility but I almost saw the writing on the wall when it comes to industry standards and Microsoft. You are going to see companies pay through the nose for FAT. Right now a general blanket coverage fee is around $$$,$$$ which most larger companies should easily be able to afford but smaller start ups are going to get the cold hard shaft from MS. There needs to be some sort of lawsuit when it comes to a company waiting for a patent to becomes a standard before stepping forward to claim charges. A sort of you snooze you loose claim. They already have such a law on the books for claiming that a someone has stamped on their IP rights but nothing that covers charging for those rights.
It’s a ****ty thing but its not as if Microsoft is the only company to pull this. What about that company in England that claimed that the hyperlink was their invention. Or how about that some company thought that idea of the PDA was their invention because some moron judge thought there was some merit that their patent covered a small device that stores passwords. Alas Microsoft isn't the only company to pull this crap. Doesn't excuse the fact that they are screwing the entire computer industry over. :mad: But it's Microsoft so you know everyone is going to bend over and lube up. :mad:
 

patrick0brien

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 24, 2002
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Re: This was to be expected.

Originally posted by SiliconAddict
There needs to be some sort of lawsuit when it comes to a company waiting for a patent to becomes a standard before stepping forward to claim charges.
-SiliconAddict

I feel I need to point something out here. If MS were to 'pulled an Apple' and suddenly base itself on industry standards and not its own proprietary formats, well, first off that would be a miracle, but second, they would no longer be able to charge for the use of any standardized (as by a standards body like IEEE, MPEG, JPEG, etc.) format - as it appears it is trying to do with wmv/a.

And I'm all for standardization of MS format as we get good, and familiar formats, without the costs and fear of costs that would be associated with them.

Originally posted by SiliconAddict
But it's Microsoft so you know everyone is going to bend over and lube up. :mad:
How colorful. :D
 

bemayo

macrumors newbie
Jun 17, 2003
6
0
My first thought was that Apple would be covered under the technology sharing agreement they had years back (the one that was the result of Apple dropping litigation and Microsoft investing in Apple).
 

DeusOmnis

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
258
0
Ann Arbor, MI
They could make a law about having to "always" charge for licences or "never" charge for licences... in fact, it could be part of the patent.

The patent could even restrict how much the licence pricing can change by percentage. A licence cost cannot be raised by more than 10 percent per year or something like that.

This sort of law is definately needed since many standardizations are created by independant companies (with patents).
 
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