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Does Microsoft simply not allow it or is it because Apple refuses to pay licensing?

I know there are software workarounds, but my question is simply WHY?

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The question is a bit misleading since the NFTS-3G driver enables read/write access to NTFS partitions. A less misleading question would be "Why isn't write-access to NTFS partitions provided with Mac OS X?" – las3rjock Aug 12 '09 at 8:29

It is a licensing issue. NTFS is Microsoft's proprietary format and they hold the rights to it.

A developer asked on the MSDN forums about getting a license to the NTFS specs for an app he was writing but was unable to get that information. There is (limited) information available in the Technical Reference.

The Wikipedia page on NTFS mentions a couple of third-party solutions:

Mac OS X v10.3 and later include read-only support for NTFS-formatted partitions. The GPL-licenced NTFS-3G also works on Mac OS X through FUSE and allows reading and writing to NTFS partitions. A proprietary solution for Mac OS X with read/write access is "Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X".[23]

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A related discussion on… . – nagul Aug 12 '09 at 8:47
@nagal Excellent find and it is a recent discussion. – Troggy Aug 12 '09 at 14:17

There's no concrete evidence that I have found online to say why / why not, however I believe you're correct in that it's a licensing issue.

Snow Leopard will see HFS+ drivers being used with Boot Camp and Windows - meaning you can use your HFS+ formatted drives in Windows.

Perhaps we'll see a similar trend from Microsoft regarding NTFS - a possibility, given that Exchange support is now coming to Snow Leopard.

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..but you'll only be able to read from your HFS+ drives from Windows, to "prevent PC viruses from affecting Mac OS X" which is.. err.. questionable – dbr Aug 12 '09 at 10:52
As dumb as it sounds I think that will actually be okay for the vast majority of users - I know that personally, all I've wanted was to copy my iTunes library across when I'm using BootCamp. – EvilChookie Aug 12 '09 at 15:37

I don't think it's necessarily a licensing issue. The Linux kernel is able to read NTFS filesystems, as well as write (but they consider that "dangerous." Mac OS X has the ability to read NTFS, but not write.

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From the NTFS Wikipedia page:

Details on the implementation's internals are not released, which makes it difficult for third-party vendors to provide tools to handle NTFS.

This suggests that it's some sort of licensing issue. Were it not for the NTFS-3G project, there would probably be no way for most non-Windows operating systems (Linux, Mac OS X, etc.) to write to NTFS partitions.

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