Microsoft ActiveStore Reaches Key Milestones

CHICAGO, June 7, 1999 — At the Retail Systems 1999 Conference and Exposition, Microsoft Corp. today announced that its ActiveStore TM initiative, which is aimed at developing an integration framework to reduce the cost and risk of deploying retail solutions, has reached two key milestones. The company released ActiveStore System Framework Services (SFS) 1.0, a fully tested and supported technology for the retail industry, and also announced significant progress with the second phase of the ActiveStore initiative, highlighting the formation of six Retail Business Interface (RBI) teams to develop common retail interapplication messages and interfaces. Albertson’s Inc., Brinker International Inc., Gadzooks Inc., London Drugs Ltd., Publix Supermarkets Inc., Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), Starbucks Corp., SUPERVALU Inc., Tricon Restaurants International and Wendy’s International Inc. are among the retail enterprises that support ActiveStore.

“The ActiveStore initiative is a laudable effort to make computing easier and more valuable for retailers,” said Carol Stream, systems development manager at REI. “We are currently evaluating how best to take advantage of ActiveStore for our computing environment and are happy to see ActiveStore SFS 1.0 become available and ensure the future validity of this integration framework.”

Available on CD-ROM, ActiveStore SFS 1.0 acts as technical “plumbing” for disparate retail applications to provide a level of commonality and standardization. Under development since the inception of the ActiveStore initiative in January 1997 and released in beta in April 1998, ActiveStore SFS 1.0 addresses base system functionality and compatibility and includes such services as immediate crash recovery, centralized security, common navigation and alert features. In addition, developers building retail solutions who license ActiveStore SFS 1.0 can now receive full Microsoft® technical support for questions or issues regarding the technology.

“ActiveStore SFS 1.0 is a huge milestone for Microsoft and the numerous developers, customers and standards groups with which we’ve worked on the ActiveStore effort,” said Tom Litchford, retail industry manager at Microsoft. “We underwent an extensive beta testing process of ActiveStore SFS to ensure that the technology was solid and could immediately benefit retailers. It’s also extremely positive to see such enthusiasm for continued work and development with the ActiveStore Retail Business Interfaces.”

In addition to the progress that has been made with ActiveStore to date, further achievements are looked for through the creation of ActiveStore Retail Business Interfaces. The ActiveStore consortium recently launched six interface teams to define RBIs for pricing, electronic payment, customer, inventory, employee and financial systems. The teams consist of nearly 60 retail vendors and customers that have been involved in the ActiveStore initiative.

The RBIs add to the base-level services provided by ActiveStore SFS 1.0 by defining retail-specific interapplication messaging and protocols. The RBIs will help further standardize retail solutions to reduce time and costs associated with systems deployment and integration and provide retailers with maximum choice and flexibility for current and future technology investments.

The ActiveStore effort is driven by a global consortium of developers, integrators and retailers building an application integration framework that makes it easier for retail solutions from various vendors to work together, so retailers can select best-of-breed components from any source. ActiveStore reduces costs associated with systems integration, employee training, infrastructure development and systems maintenance and support.

ActiveStore references the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) data model, which further broadens its scope and capabilities for integration with various technologies and platforms. More information on Microsoft retail solutions and initiatives is available on the Microsoft Web site at . In addition, independent software vendors and retailers can submit proposals for new interfaces to the site.

Digital Nervous System for Retail

Microsoft is working with developers, customers and standards groups in the retail industry to provide the necessary tools and technologies to create a Digital Nervous System (DNS) for Retail. A DNS for Retail integrates store, enterprise and e-commerce systems so retailers can increase efficiency, lower costs, make quicker business decisions and better serve their customers. Components of a DNS for Retail are the Microsoft enterprise platform, including the Windows NT® operating system, Microsoft SQL Server TM 7.0 and the
Windows® CE operating system; retail integration frameworks ActiveStore and OPOS for in-store systems and point-of-sale systems, respectively; and innovative line-of-business solutions.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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, ActiveStore, Windows NT and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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