Microsoft Partners Reach New Heights in Radio Frequency Identification Technology Through Use of Microsoft Platform

REDMOND, Wash., April 5, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the formation of a new Microsoft Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Council focused on RFID technology. The group will look at RFID requirements and how to take advantage of today’s technology to make it easier for retailers and manufacturers to track and ship merchandise. The company also highlighted a growing ecosystem of partners that are building innovative RFID solutions on the Microsoft
®
platform to enhance control of key business processes, improve inventory visibility and provide better customer service for manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

RFID combines the benefits of the silicon chip and radio frequencies to provide increased levels of product and asset visibility across the supply chain. Microsoft is providing a platform on which partners can create RFID solutions to enable their customers to reduce human error in data collection, reduce inventories and improve product availability, while at the same time respecting the privacy expectations and concerns around the use of RFID technology. The company plans to hold the first Microsoft RFID Council meeting in April and already has several partners, including Accenture, GlobeRanger Corp., HighJump Software, Intermec Technologies Corp., Manhattan Associates Inc. and Provia Software Inc., signed up to participate. As a part of the Microsoft RFID Council, Microsoft and partners plan to address industry needs for RFID solutions that are low-cost, simple to deploy and built on a robust scalable technology stack.

“With RFID in the early stages of adoption, we are continuing to expand and evolve our partner-driven strategy based on the needs of the industry,” said Javed Sikander, program manager for RFID strategy at Microsoft. “There is a wide spectrum of partners building RFID solutions on the Microsoft platform today; the formation of the Microsoft RFID Council is part of our commitment to continue to work closely with our customers and partners to ensure they receive the greatest value and opportunity when building their RFID solutions with Microsoft technologies.”

An ecosystem of partners — spanning RFID hardware vendors, supply chain execution retail systems and services providers — is using the Microsoft platform today to add value to their RFID solutions through Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft Windows® CE, SQL Server (TM) and BizTalk® Server for collection, management and integration of RFID data. These partners also are working with Visual Studio®
and Web Services Enhancements (WSE) for Microsoft .NET to create Web services-enabled RFID solutions. Microsoft Business Solutions is also working with RFID partners to extend the capabilities of financial management and supply chain management solutions for small and midsize businesses.

Microsoft also announced it has joined EPCglobal, an organization that is leading the development of industry-driven standards for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network to support the use of RFID.

“RFID is a major initiative for the METRO Group,” said Zygmunt Mierdorf, executive vice president for IT and Human Resources at METRO Group. “METRO will use a number of platforms and is very pleased Microsoft has joined EPCglobal and is making significant investments to make this technology available using open standard technologies. Microsoft is working with the METRO Group to support this first large implementation.”

Independent software vendors (ISVs) and technology companies announcing their support for the Microsoft platform and highlighting the solutions they are delivering today include the following:

  • Accenture. Accenture is working with Microsoft and Manhattan Associates to develop a new solution that will help manufacturers comply quickly with retailers’ RFID mandates. The companies will provide a full range of Electronic Product Code (EPC)-compliant, scalable RFID solution design, development and integration services that will help manufacturers realize rapid benefits, including enhanced supply chain efficiencies and improved warehouse management.

  • GlobeRanger. GlobeRanger provides an innovative Edgeware (TM) platform, iMotion (TM) , that is designed to intelligently connect core enterprise systems with relevant, real-time RFID information. Built on the Microsoft .NET Framework, iMotion delivers the ability to manage edge devices, networks, data and business processes seamlessly.

  • HighJump Software, a 3M Company. HighJump provides a broad collection of highly configurable, RFID-enabled solutions built on the Microsoft platform that empower customers to meet a full spectrum of RFID requirements and manage ever-evolving supply chain processes without disrupting current supply chain operations.

  • Intermec Technologies Corp. Intermec draws on the utilities and resources available through the Microsoft Pocket PC platform for the company’s 700 Color Series of rugged, mobile devices with attachable IP3 RFID handle. The IP3 adds fully functional RFID reader capabilities to the 700. Both devices are integrated into Intermec’s RFID “Ready to Go” kit, which includes RFID hardware, software and professional services — allowing customers to begin implementing RFID into their own systems.

  • Manhattan Associates Inc. Manhattan Associates is leveraging the Microsoft platform as a powerful and flexible platform for its cutting-edge RFID solutions. The company’s RFID in a Box (TM) solution offers a package of source-to-consumption supply chain execution applications, professional services and RFID technology to simplify implementation and enable companies to meet compliance requirements while leveraging the most comprehensive integrated logistics platform and solutions.

  • METRO Group. Germany-based retailer METRO Group will begin to roll out RFID across four of its six divisions in November 2004. METRO has been successfully piloting RFID in its Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany, and in other locations, and is now ready to take the challenge to move from pilot to production.

  • Provia Software Inc. Provia Software uses the Microsoft platform to enable customers to implement supply chain execution and optimization solutions including RFID-enabled warehousing, transportation, order and yard management. These solutions seamlessly integrate with Web-based visibility tools to create a real-time, end-to-end supply chain execution solution.

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Innovative RFID Solutions on the Microsoft Platform

“The potential of RFID combined with retailer mandates make it a question of when — not if — manufacturers will implement the technology into their organizations. The next 18 months will be the critical period of adoption, and industry leaders are looking beyond compliance to use RFID as a source of competitive advantage.”

— Lyle Ginsburg, Partner, Technology Innovation Products Operating Group, Accenture

“GlobeRanger delivers the ability to easily develop, deploy and integrate RFID and mobile solutions for the edge of the enterprise. Powered by the Microsoft .NET Framework, GlobeRanger’s iMotion platform provides the foundation that enterprise users are looking for to scale standards-compliant RFID solutions from pilot to full implementation.”

— John Koenigs, President and CEO, GlobeRanger Corp.

“HighJump provides a broad collection of highly configurable, RFID-enabled solutions that empower customers to meet a full spectrum of RFID requirements and manage ever-evolving supply chain processes without jeopardizing their operational efficiency, profitability or ability to meet customer expectations. HighJump fully leverages Microsoft technologies throughout its RFID solution to facilitate integration and ensure flexibility and scalability in complex, high-volume manufacturing and distribution environments.”

— Chris Heim, President, HighJump Software, a 3M Company

“Intermec has added instant RFID capability to its 700 Color Series of rugged, mobile devices by offering the Intermec IP3 handle reader as an attachment. With the powerful backbone of Microsoft’s Pocket PC and immediate RFID reader capacity, customers now are able to easily integrate RFID into their enterprise systems.”

— Mike Colwell, Vice President, Intermec

“As a charter member of EPCglobal, Manhattan Associates has continued to stay at the forefront of providing innovative business and compliance solutions that solve supply chain execution challenges for manufacturers, distributors, retailers and their trading partners. Manhattan Associates’ RFID in a Box (TM) solution and our RFID-enabled applications, combined with Microsoft’s powerful and flexible platform, provide our customers with both stability and ease of deployment. Our joint solutions are enabling companies worldwide to meet RFID compliance requirements and handle large transactional volumes.”

— Eric Peters, Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Manhattan Associates

“RFID compliance requirements are quickly evolving. For Provia’s RFIDware product, Microsoft’s .NET Platform was the logical choice. It allowed us to develop a robust solution quickly while providing the flexibly and ease of use necessary to keep up with these evolving requirements. All our supply chain execution and optimization solutions deploy rapidly and effectively on the Microsoft platform today, and we are excited to strengthen our Microsoft .NET support with the release of RFIDware.”

— Todd Gage, Vice President, Product Development, Provia Software