Microsoft and OPOS Charter Members to Develop Next Generation of POS Interfaces

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 12, 1997 — Microsoft Corp., with the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), announced today the expansion of the OLE for point of sale (OPOS) specification. The next generation of OPOS will expand on and comply with the current OPOS specification, which is supported by more than 160 companies worldwide. The updated point of sale (POS) specification will extend the creation of a plug-and-play environment for current and emerging retail devices. These devices will operate using the Component Object Model (COM) and the Win32® API in Microsoft® Windows® based terminals, NetPCs, PCs and Windows CE operating system-based solutions. In addition, the next generation of OPOS will support applications written with multiple programming tools such as C++, the Visual Basic ® and Visual C++® development systems and Java.

“The ability to expand and improve the existing OPOS specification is an exciting opportunity,” said Judy Dulcich, retail-industry marketing manager at Microsoft. “The groundwork has already been laid, allowing us to focus on specific issues, such as reducing retailers’ total cost of ownership by creating a scalable solution with tremendous hardware and software flexibility.”

Over 160 companies worldwide support and are building solutions based on the existing OPOS specification. ARTS, an international standards group composed of more than 310 retailers and technology vendors, officially endorsed the OPOS specification in January 1997. While Microsoft and its international OPOS charter members continue to drive the expansion, ARTS will provide retailers with a channel to give input about the standard and ensure uniform development that conforms to the published specifications. ARTS is recognized in the industry as a leading single input source for retailers; it represents mass merchants, quick-service restaurants, specialty retailers, and department, drug and grocery stores. In addition, ARTS will educate the industry about the specification and assess the need to develop standards not addressed by OPOS.

“ARTS’ mission is to develop standards that help reduce the cost and complexity of technology as it is applied to the retail environment,” said Richard Mader, ARTS’ chairman and CIO of Boscov’s Department Store. “The next generation of OPOS will be extremely beneficial for retailers around the world, and we see this as an as opportunity to provide flexible, cross-platform choices.”

OPOS’ objective is to create a plug-and-play environment that enables retailers to choose best-of-breed POS solutions and deploy these object-oriented applications across a variety of hardware devices. The expansion will continue to significantly reduce the costs associated with developing retail software applications and systems integration, while providing additional flexibility, scalability and interoperability. OPOS strives to accommodate every language, device and development tool to create a truly integrated and open environment. Future releases of the OPOS specification will also support new peripheral classifications of devices such as intelligent gas pumps and smart cards and new connectivity technologies such as the Universal Serial Bus (USB).

The original OPOS specification committee included Microsoft, Epson America Inc., ICL Retail Systems and NCR Corp. Three of the original four OPOS members also serve on the JavaPOS committee. Their efforts have been instrumental in ensuring that JavaPOS efforts leverage the OPOS APIs, effectively creating a Java extension for OPOS. The OPOS group invites companies from around the world to participate in the review of existing specifications and to participate in the extension of OPOS to incorporate new devices into future revisions.

“The OPOS committee will continue to work with the JavaPOS committee to ensure that OPOS provides support for Java applications as and when they are developed,” said Paul Gay, core committee member representative for Epson America. “This cooperation will help ensure that POS applications can easily be extended to include Java-based solutions in addition to OLE and ActiveX
technologies. Three charter members of the OPOS committee are tightly involved in helping to ensure that JavaPOS leverages the three years of development effort behind OPOS.”

Part of a Broader, End-to-End Solution

The OPOS specification is part of a broader initiative by Microsoft to define an end-to-end framework for product-related industries, from raw materials suppliers to consumer products companies. Other components of the product industries framework include the ActiveStore initiative for store-level applications and the Value Chain Initiative (VCI) for business-to-business electronic commerce. Combined, OPOS, ActiveStore and the VCI include more than 500 ISVs working toward a common architecture.

Companies seeking more information on Microsoft and OPOS can visit Microsoft’s retail Web site at .

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