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RIM, Microsoft ink licensing deal for media-focused file storage format

Microsoft announced that it has reached a deal with troubled BlackBerry smartphone manufacturer Research In Motion that will see RIM gain access to the larger company's proprietary Extended File Allocation Table format.

RIM ON THE EDGE: iPhone 5 vs. BlackBerry: BlackBerry could still surprise, despite Apple's ascendance

A statement issued by Microsoft said that "certain BlackBerry devices" would use the exFAT file system, which is designed to make large media files easy to move and copy, even between Windows and Apple products. The company claims a fivefold increase in the speed at which content stored in flash memory can be accessed compared to standard FAT technology.

David Kaefer, Microsoft IP licensing general manager, said that advancing mobile technology prompted the move by RIM.

"Today's smartphones and tablets require the capacity to display richer images and data than traditional cellular phones. 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," he said.

Microsoft noted that it has reached similar licensing agreements for exFAT with other electronics companies, including Sanyo, Panasonic, Sony and Canon. As in those cases, however, financial terms of the agreement with RIM were not disclosed.

RIM is due to release a new generation of mobile devices based on its forthcoming BlackBerry OS 10 software early next year, and its new patent deal with Microsoft could have a twofold aim. Amassing patents is a well-known way of minimizing the potential for IP-related legal action by competitors, as well as providing valuable technology that could help the beleaguered mobile manufacturer stay competitive with its more recently successful rivals.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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