What are the restrictions on NTFS and in what ways can I use NTFS?

Can I boot from NTFS without worrying about Microsoft suing me?

Is it based on if I have a Windows license? I asked a similar question on superuser and programmers.

  • 1
    You can't "boot" NTFS, because that's literally not the sort of thing you can do with a filesystem. What are you actually asking if you can do?
    – cpast
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 22:26
  • @cpast It has a boot sector(although I'm not really sure if this is required) so yes it can be booted. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS#Partition_Boot_Sector You might be right though that it's not important in distinguishing booting a NTFS drive and using a formatted NTFS drive on the computer.
    – William
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 2:32
  • 3
    "Booting" is something associated with programs. You can boot from NTFS, but cannot boot NTFS.
    – cpast
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 3:53
  • @cpast when using the Ntfs boot sector.... is that the right terminology then?
    – William
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


Unlike with its ExFAT filesystem and VFAT filesystem extensions, Microsoft has chosen not to issue any patents regarding NTFS, so there's no need to obtain a licence from Microsoft to use it. The particular "invention" of a boot sector is much older than NTFS, and even Microsoft itself, and so wouldn't have been patentable by them in any case.

  • 1
    Just because it isn't patented, doesn't mean it's open licensed.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 2:59
  • @RonBeyer I didn't say it was open licensed, I said a licence wasn't required. Patents provide the only means available to Microsoft to prevent its use without a licence. A trademark would only prevent someone using the name in certain contexts, copyright would only prevent someone from copying Microsoft's own code.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 4:46
  • But a patent doesn't protect an invention against use.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 12:05
  • 1
    @phoog The ExFAT and VFAT patents prevented companies from producing products that used ExFAT and the VFAT extensions without a licence. Microsoft even sued one company, TomTom, for failing to obtain a licence.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 14:22
  • 1
    @phoog Also patents quite clearly protect an invention against unauthorized use. For example, 35 USC 271 (a) says "Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent."
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 14:30

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