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Microsoft Android Operating Systems Patents Your Rights Online

Nikon Buckles To Microsoft, Will Pay "Android Tax" For Smart Cameras 272

Posted by timothy
from the by-all-means dept.
walterbyrd writes with news that Nikon is the latest company to agree to pay Microsoft for the privilege of using Android on its devices — as you might expect from Nikon, the devices in this case are cameras. (Microsoft's press release.)
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Nikon Buckles To Microsoft, Will Pay "Android Tax" For Smart Cameras

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  • Hey buddy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:35PM (#42990415)

    You settin' up shop on my street? Nobody, I sez *nobody*... sets up shop on my street without talkin' to me foyst. OK, listen pal. Here's what I'm gonna a do for you. You just pay me a little bidda money on everything you sellz, and I'z a gonna look dee otha way, capiche?

    You callin' this "extortion"? That's a big word, my friend. 'Round here we just call it biz niss.

    • Re:Hey buddy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:43PM (#42990473) Homepage

      You settin' up shop on my street? Nobody, I sez *nobody*... sets up shop on my street without talkin' to me foyst. OK, listen pal. Here's what I'm gonna a do for you. You just pay me a little bidda money on everything you sellz, and I'z a gonna look dee otha way, capiche?

      You callin' this "extortion"? That's a big word, my friend. 'Round here we just call it biz niss.

      It's basically an approved bribe. All legal and written out. Serves the same function, serves the same people. Might even be tax deductible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      And this is different to what Apple, Motorola (now owned by Google who didn't stop the suits when they bought Motorola thus making them trolls by proxy in my book) and every other big tech company this decade has done?

      If you want to fix this kind of shit you have to get to the root of the problem which is the patent system is broken and until you fix it this kind of shit will continue. This is like blaming companies who take advantage of the fact that offshoring not only incurs them no monetary penalty but

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RazorSharp (1418697)

        The patent system is broken, I'll agree with you there, but this is different from what any other company does regarding the patent system. This isn't exploiting a broken system, it's extortion.

      • by sjames (1099)

        RAND is not really all that RAND unless it is based strictly on percentage of profit. Even one millionth of one penny per unit is impossible for free, open, or public domain software where we cannot determine how many copies are out there.

      • Re:Hey buddy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by andydread (758754) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:32PM (#42992227)
        So what the fuck do you suggesst buddy? I mean you sit down at your computer and bang out some open source code that is your code yet you and possibly others have to pay MS for the privilege of using your own code? You think Joe BIden gives a fuck what you have to say about this? These are the same fuckers that worship bill gates when he shows up to petition congress. I don't know at this point what to do about it. Even the President was asked about this software patent bullshit by Lady Ada and his answer "blah we gotta protect 'intellectual property' blah blah" Then you have the current patent office head who equates litigation to innovation so what can be done? The bottom line is that Microsoft is abusing the system to put a cost on as much open source software as possible. THis is not about Android its per say its about Linux and opensource and being able to use any computing device without paying MS. Its egregious disgusting behavior.
        • I agree that what M$ is doing is no different from extortion

          I also agree that the patent system is broken

          A lot of people state that the broken patent system is the root of the problem, as if someone can find a way to patch the patent system then everything is fine and dandy

          I disagree

          To me, the real root of the problem is the political system --- from the way the political party is structured to the funding to the way the politicians are chosen how those idiots get to determine what's right and what's wrong

          A

      • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:35PM (#42993389)

        I think Google buying Motorola was clearly a defensive move. Google was attempting to protect itself from the most vicious patent trolls, and scam artists in the business, namely Apple, Oracle, and Microsoft.

        Who has Google extorted, and how?

    • Grow up, kid. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:43PM (#42990873)

      You callin' this "extortion"? That's a big word, my friend. 'Round here we just call it biz niss.

      Nikon is a big boy now and can take care of itself.

      Founded in 1917 and a core component of the Japanese industrial cartel Mitsubishi.

      You do know Mitsubishi? Employs 350,000 people? Rakes in about $350 Billion in revenues each year?

      In a mature industry, all Android-related patents would be pooled, managed and cross-licensed to stabilize the business and the product.

      No need to build your own customized portfolio. That hasn't happened yet and the geek won't like it when it does ---- any more than he likes the dominance of the MPEG LA pools in video compression.

      • Re:Grow up, kid. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RazorSharp (1418697) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:04PM (#42991009)

        Extortion doesn't necessarily have to be a big player threatening a small player. How does the age or size of Nikon change the fact that this is extortion? It doesn't change a thing, scale is irrelevant.

        • by westlake (615356) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:54PM (#42991595)

          How does the age or size of Nikon change the fact that this is extortion?

          It is not extortion if Nikon considers the Microsoft patents valid and a useful addition to their portfolio.

          This is the argument the geek cannot accept.

          It has to be extortion. He has no other way of explaining what happened.

          No matter how wildly improbable it is that so junior and foreign a competitor as Microsoft could bully a core component of a Japanese industrial cartel as old (1870), culturally insular, rich, proud and powerful as Mitsubishi.

          • by andydread (758754) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:46PM (#42992317)
            Your trolling here is not working. first of all the patents are bullshit patents that should have never been filed and should have never been granted. Sofware is already protected by copyright no need to patent swiping on a screen for gods sake. You don't get it. Software is authored works just like books and other media. Lets take books for example. Another authored work. You should not be able to get a patent on the idea of a story about wars in space. You should be able to get a copyright on your specific story(source code) about wars in space but you should not be able to go sue everyone else because they wrote a story about wars in space that is totally different from your story. If there was a patent on the idea of a story about wars in space then both battlestar galactica and star wars would infringe on that patent. THis is the problem with software patents. It should not be allowed its authored works and properly protected by copywright.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:35PM (#42990419)

    They are a leach on modern businesses, their operating systems are found lacking, their office products are crap, their hardware is of the scaliest, slimiest design. In other words, they are dinosaurs in modern society.

    MPAA - On warning for extinction.
    RIAA - On warning for extinction.
    Microsoft - On warning for extinction.

    Time to open up the hunting licenses, and finish them all off.

    • RIAA - On warning for extinction.

      Even if the trade group representing sellers of recordings of music is on warning for extinction, I don't see how the trade groups representing publishers of the underlying compositions are. These are the groups that get paid when you play songs on FM, XM, or Internet radio (BMI and ASCAP), and the groups that get paid when you record a cover version of a song (Harry Fox Agency). And these are the groups whose members can sue you for accidental plagiarism* should a song you write happen to be too similar t

  • Goodbye Nikon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:35PM (#42990421) Homepage

    One less brand to ever appear on my shopping list.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:41PM (#42990451) Homepage

      Looks like your going to be using a pretty short list. Since you don't want to step on anyone else's intellectual toes, I'd suggest starting with this camera manufacturer [holgacamera.com],.

      • Those all appear to be film cameras. No pesky software patents.

        However, Holga isn't known for quality glass. I don't think they're known for glass, period.

    • Best avoid Android, then.

    • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:53PM (#42990945) Homepage

      One less brand to ever appear on my shopping list.

      Help me understand - you are mad at the victim? Do you stop talking to friends because they paid for Windows? Don't buy anything with a Samsung-made component?

      I'm sure Nikon looked at the cost of fighting and decided it made business sense to pay them. Consider the volume of Android devices Nikon sells vs. Samsung and other cell phone companies. If it doesn't make sense for the cell phone vendors, it is unlikely to make sense for Nikon to fight in court.

      Frankly, your anger toward Microsoft might be better directed at Microsoft. And Google. Why hasn't Google challenged this?

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:08PM (#42991037)

        Google hasn't challenged this as they haven't directly been sued, for good reason I would guess. Barnes & Noble did stand up to them, and published the jokes being used for this extortion. What Microsoft are doing should be considered criminal. I'm guessing that these companies look at the legal fees and decide that paying the extortion is significantly less expensive than paying the extortion, especially when the danger of dealing with an American company in the American legal system is taken into account.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Google hasn't challenged this as they haven't directly been sued, for good reason I would guess.

          Yes, the good reason that Google doesnt get sued by Microsoft is that Google pays Microsoft a licensing fee.

      • by bmo (77928) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:09PM (#42991041)

        >Help me understand - you are mad at the victim?

        The problem with danegeld is that you never get rid of the Dane.

        Paying off Microsoft is the absolutely wrong "solution" to this and only emboldens Microsoft. Microsoft can point at all these people paying danegeld and say "hey, you have to pay too."

        It's why we all got mad at people who paid SCO for their extortion.

        Fuck Microsoft, but also fuck Nikon for financing their extortion.

        --
        BMO

        • Couldn't Nikon skirt the whole patent (the enforceable and legally-tested claims, anyway) by just shipping the camera with unformatted flash, making users format them on a PC, and ignoring long VFAT filenames by only looking at the 8.3 part? AFAIK, Microsoft's chief patent narrowly covers the act of formatting a blank card as ExFAT (but not its use), long VFAT filenames (expiration imminent, if it hasn't happened already), and NTFS.

          Nikon could easily save $10 by making their cameras only use FAT16 (or FAT3

          • by bmo (77928) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:03PM (#42991661)

            Nikon could skirt the patent by using EXT2/3 on their disks and include a driver for EXT2/3 for Windows and OSX. Because such things already exist. It's not like Windows users aren't used to installing drivers already.

            But that makes too much sense.

            Why device manufacturers insist on using VFAT and FAT64 boggles my mind.

            This whole situation is just pure laziness, and a reason why people should point and laugh at Nikon for paying danegeld.

            --
            BMO

            • Why device manufacturers insist on using VFAT and FAT64 boggles my mind.

              This whole situation is just pure laziness, and a reason why people should point and laugh at Nikon for paying danegeld.

              I guess you don't realize that devices like my TV, Blu-Ray player, projectors, etc. all read FAT-formatted SD cards. So you're asking Nikon to lose compatibility with all those devices. They would also have support calls about cards not working, etc.

              Oh yeah - FAT is part of the SD standard.
              https://www.sdcard.org/developers/overview/capacity/ [sdcard.org]

        • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:59PM (#42991623) Homepage

          Yeah - I get all that. In principle, I agree with you.

          But the practical is different. Nikon has it's hands full with its primary competitors, and a shrinking market. Smartphones are killing the compact camera market, and new "mirror-less" cameras are eating into the D-SLR market. Canon and Sony make lots of products outside the camera business, but 75% of Nikon's sales are dependent on cameras and lenses. They are being super aggressive in the D-SLR segment to make up for that revenue, and trying to find something to fit in the space between the smartphone and D-SLR. And they need the support of Microsoft, Apple and Adobe for processing those files. Right now, they need friends - not another enemy.

          I suspect the Android camera is an experiment to see if consumers will accept a compact camera that does pretty much everything a smartphone does, except for phone calls. Do consumers want Android-based cameras? Nikon makes just a single model with Android. It could be a flop, and something Nikon might drop. Do the sales justify an expensive legal fight in the USA - Microsoft's home turf.

            I'm sure they see two giants (MS and Google) about to face-off in a war, and they will pay the MS "tax" and sit this one out. This is a bit like someone fighting cancer who decides not to get involved in a conflict between nations.

          Nikon is fighting for survival, so I think we should give them a pass on this one.

      • Do you stop talking to friends because they paid for Windows?

        I would if they walked into BestBuy, approached the cashier and said "Please send this $100 for a windows license to Microsoft. Oh, no, I don't need a copy, thanks."

        • I would if they walked into BestBuy, approached the cashier and said "Please send this $100 for a windows license to Microsoft. Oh, no, I don't need a copy, thanks."

          I think it's more like your buddy is fighting cancer and a big thug wants a dollar to make sure nothing happens to his car in the hospital parking lot.

  • Oy Vey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:45PM (#42990481)

    They also license patents from Apple, IBM and god knows who else, but it's not a big story then.

    Why try and spin it as some sort of evil "Microsoft tax", when we could actually have a discussion on the patent system, instead of some retarded online version of two minutes hate.

    This site has become completely worthless as a place to discuss technology.

    • Except we do. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:37PM (#42990819)

      They also license patents from Apple, IBM and god knows who else, but it's not a big story then.

      Except we do in the case of Apple *endlessly* Its not just been big news here, but in every damn newspaper worldwide. In fact very little is said of Evil Microsoft(sic) shady deals which are in the main back room affairs "While the contents of the agreement will not be disclosed" , with it being spin as a joyful agreement "Microsoft and Nikon have a long history of collaboration".

      Perhaps if your not happy you could register and submit stories you feel more worthwhile, rather than attack a community.

      • Re:Except we do. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:09PM (#42991043)

        Microsoft are also trying to hide the 'patents' they are using as threats.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Except we do in the case of Apple *endlessly*

        Because unlike Microsoft that happily sells licenses for its IP, Apple steadfastly refuses to sell licenses for its IP and files lawsuits instead.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Microsoft is much more of a classic parasite. A parasite can't thrive if it destroys the host. In this respect, Microsoft is actually far less destructive than Apple. On the other hand, Apple tries to destroy companies rather than just feed off of them.

        Of course the whole system is corrupt and all of the big bully companies like the status quo.

    • Re:Oy Vey (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ilguido (1704434) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:38PM (#42990831) Homepage
      That's because while some don't like the patent system at large, many, I'd say the majority, find the software patent system despicable. This article is about the latter.

      Moreover this is a friendly reminder for all those who think that the Xbox/Xbox 360 makes money: the royalties from mobile system patents are collected by the EDD, those, and not the Xbox, counterbalance the losses of Windows Phone.
      • by Kalriath (849904)

        You do realise their annual reports are broken down into a little more detail than that right? You can see plain as day exactly how much Xbox brings in compared to Windows Phone (which since it's just Windows 8 is probably attributed to the Windows Division now) and how much licensing brings in. Your reminder falls flat on it's face upon reflection of that point.

        • by ilguido (1704434)

          You do realise their annual reports are broken down into a little more detail than that right? You can see plain as day exactly how much Xbox brings in compared to Windows Phone[...]

          The break down is about revenues, I was clearly talking about profits. I know that very well, in facts to me it's pretty clear that if the console business adds up to 70-80% of total division revenues and the division loses money (4 billions since 2002, this figure lacks the original Xbox launch and development cost, which is usually estimated at 1-2 billion more), then the console business must not be that profitable.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:45PM (#42990485) Homepage

    Here's some info on the patents that Microsoft claims android is in violation of:

    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/070611-microsoft-android.html [networkworld.com]

  • I am going to have replace my camera kit in the next year. MS has shown that it is never happy with just part of the pie, or letting other people have a pie without the approval of MS. Once the claws get in, they never let go.

    So even though I have been a Nikon fan for many years, I am afraid my next camera will a Canon.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      I am going to have replace my camera kit in the next year. MS has shown that it is never happy with just part of the pie, or letting other people have a pie without the approval of MS. Once the claws get in, they never let go.

      So even though I have been a Nikon fan for many years, I am afraid my next camera will a Canon.

      Given that the value of a good camera kit is more in the glass than anything, that's a hell of an investment you will have to be replacing (*). And what will you do when Canon decides that it is going to jump onto the Android bandwagon in order to feature comparable with the Nikon cameras? Will you do what someone suggested above and move to a Holga?

      * A friend once told me a long time ago - never sell a lens that you like.

      • by Noughmad (1044096)

        I don't really know anything about (semi-)professional photography, but I always assumed objectives from different manufacturers were compatible. Can't you use your old glass with the new, different camera?

        • Re:Canon here I come (Score:4, Informative)

          by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:12PM (#42991067)

          I don't really know anything about (semi-)professional photography, but I always assumed objectives from different manufacturers were compatible. Can't you use your old glass with the new, different camera?

          Camera manufacturers lock you in with proprietary hardware interfaces, so in general you can't mix and match between different companies. They also try and keep backwards compatibility within their own brand and Nikon supposedly has one of the best backward compatibility with its lenses of the major 35mm camera manufacturers.

          • by Telvin_3d (855514)

            Calling it a lock-is a bit strong. Cameras from different manufacturers gave different dimensions and specs. Something sized for one will not fit another. But the specs are well documented and widely used. For example, many professional video cameras from many manufacturers are compatible with Canon lenses.

            • by OzPeter (195038)

              Calling it a lock-is a bit strong.

              I disagree. Yes the specs are well documented, and third party manufacturers produce compatible lenses, but you have choose - Nikon system, Canon system etc and you can not cross *that* boundary.

          • Re:Canon here I come (Score:4, Informative)

            by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:57PM (#42991327) Homepage Journal

            Pentax is hugely backwards compatible. I have glass sitting around that is over 30 years old that works flawlessly on my modern SLR. The only problem is some of the newer lenses, made for crop sensors, aren't really usable on film bodies without severe vignetting (though not always, some labeled for ASP-C are actually have a 35mm image circle). Also, all however many years of class all have stabilization, thanks to in body IS (why is also why I picked Olympus for my mirrorless).

            Back in the film days there were several companies making class for other big brands. Also most screw mount lenses were pretty universal (m39 for pretty much all rangefinder/Leica type cameras, and m42 for pretty much everything else. Bayonet mounts is where things went downhill for compatibility. Now the only real "open" platform out there is Micro 4/3s, but even that isn't terribly open since its only Olympus and Panasonic.

            I wouldn't call it lock in, though, since there are actual physical limitations, such as flange distance, and contacts (what features do you want to ship to the lens, or keep in body?). Some of it is obviously lock in, but thats putting it a bit strong.

          • by fermion (181285)
            It is lockin. One way to minimize is to buy used kit.
        • by ScentCone (795499)

          I don't really know anything about (semi-)professional photography, but I always assumed objectives from different manufacturers were compatible. Can't you use your old glass with the new, different camera?

          Only in some circumstances. Most systems have different physical mounts, are built to sit at different distances from the sensor/film, have different electrical contacts for aperture control solenoids and auto-focus motor power/control. Etc.

          Good lenses can usually be sold without much loss. But when you have a full collection built around a given system, it makes more sense to stick with that system, body-wise. It might mean being a little less pious about open source software ... but then, the people s

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:06PM (#42990629)

    The real target of all this bullshit from Microsoft is the use of firmware with software other than what comes from Redmond, period. Face it Microsoft has been squeezed out of the embedded market largely because of the flexibility of OSS and the Linux kernel.

    The best and only solution is for manufactures to turn on the bastards and stop using fat and ntfs period or charge more for devices that do.

    This could easily be accomplished by providing a software tool with the cheaper devices to read write to Windows without the use of fat or ntfs. If Samsung, Nikon, Sony, Toshiba, Canon and all the other manufacturers got together and created a formatting tool for storage that they shared this could easily be accomplished.

    Having one company dictate the format in which all portable storage devices read and write is the problem and the bastards in Redmond need to be held to task and given a full financial enema for a change.

    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:19PM (#42990705)
      There are a couple of problems. One is that using a different file system is quite inconvenient, since it requires installation of additional software. It also probably wouldn't solve the problem, since MS has a ton of bullshit patents. The real solution is to drop the Antitrust hammer down, probably in Europe.
    • by citizenr (871508)

      The best and only solution is for manufactures to turn on the bastards and stop using fat and ntfs period or charge more for devices that do.

      too late, that battle is lost already
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh8gLKrGeBE [youtube.com]

      • too late, that battle is lost already
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh8gLKrGeBE [youtube.com]

        Sorry couldn't you summarize the hour long video especially when you have a valid point. Which as I see it is the https://www.sdcard.org/ [sdcard.org] SD Association and includes [Canon Inc., Cardwave Services Limited, Giesecke & Devrient, Hewlett Packard, Kingston Technology, Lexar, Motorola Mobility, Panasonic, Phison, Samsung Electronics, SanDisk Corporation, Silicon Motion, Inc. and Toshiba...yeah] everybody who makes a SD Cards , as a successor to SDHC cards SDXC have chosen to use exFAT as replacement for FAT

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Won't work because as long as 90%+ of the PCs out there (which is what folks are gonna want to get those pics on to for editing and sharing) run Windows getting rid of support for MSFT file systems would be slitting your own throat.

      Now as for WHY does MSFT and Apple own 90% and 10% respectively and every other OS not even owns above the margin for error? I will get hate but truth is truth, nobody has offered a compelling product with the ease of use of OSX and Windows. Even Win 8 and Vista, as shitty as the

    • mod parent up
  • Karma Bites Nikon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#42990997)
    I can't help but think this is just a bit of karma comeback for Nikon. A few years ago, they decided to change their RAW file format to NEF (Nikon Encrypted Format), which could be read by nothing but their own software. They graciously allowed MS, Adobe and all to purchase licenses, so that Photoshop and such could read and work with the new .nef files. To be fair, Pentax, Canon and everyone seems to be doing this now.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Got a reference for that? Five seconds of googling gets you a page describing canon's CR2 format, updated for the 6D and 5D mark III.

      Canon also continues to send me updates for their free SDK that allows control of the camera through the USB port.

      Also, Nikon ELECTRONIC Format files only encrypt the white balance information. It's a dick move, no question, but it's not really a show stopper. White balance metadata is of limited use in RAW files anyway.

      • Google for Nikon encryption and look at all the stuff beginning April 2005. Nikon changed the file format written by the new DX2. This was widely seen as an attempt to lock out third-party RAW converters. While the encryption was relatively easy to crack, there was widespread concern about DMCA action by Nikon. Adobe and others resisted at first and then caved and licensed the format.
  • The only specific one I recall them mentioning was FAT filesystem, but they've claimed to have many more that Linux/Android supposedly infringes on.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      That's the thing: Microsoft has been making these claims for a VERY long time. No one has produced a list. Many such claims would be worked around if they were identified while others would likely become invalidated for various other causes under re-examination. Software patents, as it turns out, are usually quite weak.

  • According to some things I have read, it seems the patent(s) in question involve the FAT file system which is used on so many consumer devices.

    Linus Torlvalds described long filenames long before Microsoft did it. That is prior art. But worse, FAT is a software patent and one which is decidedly used to prevent compatibility... or in this case, "tax" compatibility. I'd like to see Microsoft attempt to extract injunctive relief so that this matter can get the attention it needs.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      I assume you are suggesting we make a new filesystem that is reasonably light for for embedded devices like cameras and toasters, but can still be used from ordinary user interface devices like phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops, desktops and servers. Good idea. But will it work with Windows? If you are expecting to add software to Windows to support this, I suggest calling it a "plugin" as people seem to be willing to just install those any time anyone says to.

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