Microsoft Launches Initiative to Create Plug-and-Play Environment for In-Store Applications

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 11, 1996 — Microsoft Corp. today announced a collaborative effort to develop an open plug-and-play environment for large retail operations that will allow business applications to work easily between vendors. This is the first step the company said it would take to help the retail industry create an information systems framework that eliminates the high costs of applications integration.

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Retailers have been struggling for years to make disparate business applications work together,
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said Graham Clark, group manager of retail and distribution industries at Microsoft.
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The architecture resulting from this initiative will dramatically reduce application integration costs by providing them what they have needed for so long
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a common way in which all their applications can work together.

Today, retailers rely on a wide array of information systems from point-of-sale (POS) and inventory software to labor-scheduling, customer-tracking and demographics applications. While these systems have interdependencies, few work together. They require varying degrees of systems integration, ranging from weeks to years.

Current integration efforts delay system rollouts and increase costs significantly, adding no business value. When large-scale retail solutions do work together, they do so only within a vendor-specific architecture, complicating standardization even further. Microsoft and its Solution Providers are working toward solving these industry problems with a series of initiatives.

The first step is to solicit technical input from Microsoft Solution Providers across the retail industry. This input will be used as the framework for the specification and will identify companies with an interest in aspects of the specification. The final specification will be based on Microsoft® ActiveX
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and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) technologies and will cover all aspects of in-store operations. This includes the storing and retrieving of retail data, the business functions that operate on the data, and the ways in which information systems can present the results of these operations to users.

“We want to work with a representative group of companies to ensure that we develop the best framework possible,”
Clark said.
“To that end, Microsoft will actively publicize its efforts and solicit input from companies throughout the retail industry.”

Throughout the project, Microsoft will provide online access to information on the specification including background documents, status updates, meeting minutes and full technical documentation ( http://www.microsoft.com/industry/retail/ ).

Microsoft will also promote the specification among its retail-industry Microsoft Solution Providers
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companies that create applications specifically for Microsoft products
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to help boost the availability of interoperable applications. Microsoft will encourage its Solution Providers to contribute their specific business expertise to the specification.

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Our Microsoft Solution Providers provide and will continue to provide comprehensive turnkey solutions to many retail operations,
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Clark said.
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And with this initiative, they’ll have theadded opportunity to sell the best of their application components to major retail customers incrementally.

Getting Involved

The deadline for submitting input to the base framework definition is Dec. 7, 1996. Details on submission and further background on the object architecture initiative are on the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/retail/ .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
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MSFT
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) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

For more information, press only:

Cheryl Cink, Insync Partners, (503) 226-5635, cherylc@insync-pr.com

For online information:


http://www.microsoft.com/industry/retail/

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