Retail Industry Sold on Windows Platform
REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 23, 1998 — As the Microsoft® Windows® operating system continues to become the retail platform of choice, Microsoft Corp. today announced that several top retail technology providers are building business automation solutions powered by the Microsoft Windows CE operating system. The solutions demonstrate that Windows is the preferred operating system in the retail industry for scalability, reliability and familiarity.
“The retail industry is not a one-size-fits-all IT environment,” said Judy Dulcich, retail industry marketing manager at Microsoft. “It spans embedded devices, mobile devices, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, interactive kiosks, client/server systems and legacy applications. Windows is the only platform that supports solutions across those devices and up and down the retail chain.”
To that end, Microsoft provides Windows CE 2.0, a Windows-compatible real-time operating system that supports embedded systems, mobile computers, terminals and many other devices. The company will also offer the Microsoft Windows Terminal Server, scheduled for release in the first half of 1998, which will add multiuser capabilities and thin-client support for Windows-based terminals to the Windows NT® Server operating system 4.0. Both are based on the Windows Distributed interNet Applications (Windows DNA) architecture and integrate with the Microsoft BackOffice® family of server-based products.
Retail industry leaders are rolling out a wide range of Windows-based devices, including those from Radiant Systems Inc., Symbol Technologies Inc., ICL Retail Systems, NCR Corp., Fujitsu and Telxon Corp.
Radiant Systems Inc. provides integrated technology solutions to retailers in the gas station and convenience store, entertainment hospitality, and automotive industries. Among them is MediaClient-CE, a networked Windows CE-based system that provides an open retail platform for POS, digital merchandising, customer-activated kiosks and employee training. Radiant is currently piloting MediaClient CE-based thin-client solutions at selected Chevron and Shell stations, and it has similar programs under way at Chick-Fil-A, a regional fast-food chain with over 650 locations, and at several Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.
“Windows CE offers a reliable platform based on the same standards as that of a
mass-market success like Windows NT – yet it’s customizable to meet the needs of the vertical market,” said Jimmy Fortuna, product manager for advanced platforms at Radiant Systems. “This is exactly what our customers need.”
Symbol Technologies Inc. is the world leader in bar-code-driven data transaction systems, with more than 6 million handheld computers and scanners installed. The company designs, manufactures and markets application-specific handheld computer, wireless LAN, and bar-code scanning products and systems that are used as strategic building blocks in solutions delivered to Symbol’s customers in retail, package and parcel delivery, warehousing and distribution, manufacturing, health care, and other industries.
Because Windows CE enables companies to develop vertical applications easily, Symbol plans to offer the operating system broadly across the company’s communications and handheld computing product lines over the next few quarters. “We believe that Windows CE, with its rich feature set, industry-standard architecture and small footprint, is ideal for the type of vertical computing solutions we create,” said Richard Bravman, Symbol’s senior vice president for OEM and wireless systems sales and marketing. “We plan to feature it as a preferred operating system platform.”
ICL Retail Systems
ICL Retail Systems is the global retail industry solutions arm of ICL plc, a $5 billion IT firm that supplies integrated systems and services in more than 70 countries around the world. “We at ICL are excited about the opportunity to integrate new consumer appliances such as PDAs, handheld scanners, kiosks and intelligent shopping carts into the demand chain, where retailers can market directly to individual consumers in the store, at home, at work or even on the road,” said Ron Strich, vice president of consumer-centric technologies for ICL Retail Systems. “The Microsoft Windows NT and Windows CE platforms, common across the full spectrum of these new devices – and those yet to be conceived – give us that opportunity.”
NCR Corp., a world leader in store automation and retail data warehouse solutions, embraces both Windows CE and Windows NT as strategic operating systems for retail solutions. For example, the NCR Self-Checkout solution for self-service shopping runs on Windows NT with OLE for point of sale (OPOS)-based peripherals. Using the system, which features an integrated automated teller machine (ATM), shoppers can scan, bag and pay for groceries in express lanes, without cashier assistance.
“NCR will announce late this year a number of exciting new Windows CE-based applications for self-service, consumer interactive and food-industry solutions, in response to retailers’ needs,” said Dan Bogan, vice president, marketing, for NCR’s retail solutions group.
Fujitsu is the second-largest IT company in the world with $45 billion in sales and 167,000 employees working around the globe.
“Fujitsu currently provides portable platforms for mobile decision support systems in route accounting, retail, health care and transportation markets to enhance mission-critical activities such as merchandising, logistics and delivery, and patient management,” said Ron Omohundro, vice president, global products group, Fujitsu’s handheld product marketing arm in the United States and Europe. “Lengthening the reach of information technology to mobile workers is a challenge that we are meeting today with Microsoft Windows and that we will meet tomorrow with Windows CE-based platforms.”
Telxon Corp. is a designer and manufacturer of wireless and mobile information systems for vertical markets. Today, the company is readying several of its fourth-generation, pen-based systems to support Windows CE. They include the PTC-1124, a palm-sized device designed for a variety of mobile work-force and retail consumer applications, such as gift registry and self-shopping; the PTC-1134, a multipurpose full-VGA system designed for transportation, inventory and retail-sales management automation; and the PTC-1194, a go-anywhere Pentium-powered workstation ideal for outbound sales as well as in-store personalized or experiential purchasing applications.
An End-to-End Effort With Growing Support From All Quarters
These latest developments come as a wave of support grows for the Windows DNA platform in the retail sector. Windows DNA is a technology architecture for building modern, scalable, multitiered distributed computing solutions that can be delivered over any network. For example, Microsoft and the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) recently announced that they are expanding the OPOS specification – a Windows DNA-based specification now supported by more than 160 companies – to create a plug-and-play environment for current and emerging retail devices.
Microsoft also continues to support COM-based initiatives that help define an end-to-end framework for product-related industries, from raw materials suppliers to consumer products companies. Components of this framework include the ActiveStore
retail technology architecture initiative for store-level applications and the Value Chain Initiative (VCI) for business-to-business electronic commerce. Combined, the OPOS, ActiveStore and VCI efforts include more than 500 ISVs working toward a common architecture. For more information on Microsoft retail solutions and ActiveStore, visit the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/retail/ .
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