Microsoft’s ActiveStore Initiative Moves Forward in the Retail Industry

Progress is the rallying cry of Microsoft’s ActiveStore Initiative consortium this April. Seeking to help developers use the ActiveStore retail architecture, Microsoft is hosting an ActiveStore Developer’s Conference, April 20-22, in Las Vegas. At the conference, developers will have the opportunity to receive comprehensive education and training on the ActiveStore framework. The conference will offer a detailed update on the initiative and will focus on ActiveStore’s data and business services elements. It will also feature presentations on key Microsoft products and how to deploy them within the ActiveStore architecture, as well as a hands-on application development-porting lab.

Key to the development of ActiveStore-enabled solutions is the Software Developer’s Kit (SDK). Microsoft this week announced that Beta 1 of the ActiveStore SDK is available for ActiveStore early adopters. The SDK enables independent software vendors (ISVs) to begin building and testing their solutions based on ActiveStore. The developer’s kit also allows ISVs to begin testing ActiveStore’s System Framework Services, which address core functionality of a retail store environment, including immediate crash recovery, centralized security and a common set of inter-application messages for major events.

Such features were traditionally provided by the individual ISVs, which often resulted in inter-vendor application integration barriers because of varying approaches to solving these common technology issues. The SDK aids in the facilitation of application integration, reduces the complexity of developing store-level systems, and brings developers and customers one step closer to an ActiveStore plug-and-play retail environment.

In addition, Microsoft, along with the ActiveStore steering committee members – Campbell Software Inc., Fujitsu, IBM Corp., ICL Retail Systems, NCR Corp. and Olsys-Olivetti Solutions – recently expanded the steering committee in an effort to further speed the development of ActiveStore. New members include Compris Technologies, Inc., JDA Software Group, Matra Systems, Inc., Radiant Systems, Inc., and Riva Group. The steering committee is responsible for driving the direction of the initiative and laying the groundwork for ActiveStore code and definitions. The new steering committee members bring added expertise and diverse backgrounds to the rapidly developing consortium.

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Microsoft Deals to Ease Retailers’ Technology Headaches

On Monday at Retail Systems ’98 in New Orleans, Steve Ballmer, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Microsoft and one of the world’s top software entrepreneurs, discussed the progress of Microsoft’s retail and supply chain efforts: ActiveStore and the Value Chain Initiative (VCI).