Microsoft Smarter Hospitality Provides Comprehensive Solutions Framework To Enable Next Generation of Hospitality Innovation

NEW YORK, Nov. 15, 2004 — Today at the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show, Microsoft Corp. announced Smarter Hospitality, a comprehensive solutions framework designed to help lodging and foodservice organizations dramatically improve the way they interact with their guests and operate while meeting the expectations of digitally enabled guests and employees.

Leveraging Microsoft’s core strengths in consumer, industry-specific and enterprise technologies, the initiative is composed of three key areas — the Smarter Guest Experience, Smarter Service and Smarter Operations — focused on providing a personalized guest experience, improving work-force productivity and streamlining operations.

Smarter Hospitality is built on proven Microsoft platforms and offers comprehensive solutions through its industry partners to address the current market pressures hospitality operators face — including the dissipation of brand loyalty, increased competition, employee attrition, changing customer expectations, and outdated and disparate technology systems — while providing a path for simple and affordable integration of future innovations.

“Smarter Hospitality is designed to address key industry pain points and future innovations by making technology work smarter to enhance overall operations and improve guest experiences,” said Brian Scott, general manager for the Retail & Hospitality Industry Unit at Microsoft. “By working closely with our solution partners, we are able to provide a framework honed to meet the specific needs of the hospitality industry, where the delivery of an engaging and empowering guest experience is a priority.”

Smarter Hospitality was launched with the support of more than 25 technology companies that are committed to delivering solutions and services that align with Microsoft’s vision and use the Microsoft .NET Framework, the programming model for building Extensible Markup Language (XML) Web services and applications. The supporting companies include Ameranth Inc., BlueCube Software Inc., Eatec Corp., Epicor Software Corp., Experticity, HyperActive Technologies Inc., InfoGenesis, Infosys Technologies Ltd., Intel Corporation, IntelliGauge Inc., Intervoice Inc., KoolConnect Technologies Inc., MenuLink Computer Solutions Inc., Meridian Systems, MP2 Solutions, NCR Corporation, Newmarket International Inc., ontap4u Inc., ProClarity Corp., QSR Automations Inc., Radiant Systems Inc., Sysrepublic Ltd., ThinkNet Inc., Timelox AB, Unisys Corp. and Wincor Nixdorf Inc.

In addition, leading companies in the lodging and foodservice industries — such as Best Western International; CKE Restaurants Inc.; Destination Hotels & Resorts; Hyatt International Corp.; Jack in the Box Inc.; Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group; Marcus Hotels and Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corp.; Marriott International, Inc.; MGM Mirage; and Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, a division of Outrigger Enterprises Inc. — are supporting Microsoft’s vision and strategy for its Smarter Hospitality initiative.

Strong Commitment to the Hospitality Industry

Microsoft is working with leading independent software vendors, systems integrators and hardware vendors that are aligning their hospitality industry solutions with Smarter Hospitality. Coupled with the $6.8 billion in research and development Microsoft has invested this year in technologies that fulfill its evolving vision for the future of computing, this framework addresses the market pressures that hospitality operators face and the business and technology trends that drive them.

The Microsoft Smarter Hospitality initiative is built on open industry standards such as Web services and XML. In addition, Microsoft will be working closely with the OpenTravel (TM) Alliance, an organization chartered with driving standards for global travel industry e-commerce, to improve the use of technology in the hospitality and travel industries. Because of its focus on standards, Smarter Hospitality drives simplicity, consistency and true choice throughout the hardware and software ecosystem.

Microsoft also is an active participant in Hotel Technology-Next Generation (HTNG), the premier technology solutions association in the hospitality industry designed to bring open solution sets that address specific business problems to the hospitality market; Microsoft is part of several HTNG workgroups focused on Microsoft technology, Web services and specifications for the future of hotel guest room technology.

“HTNG supports Microsoft Smarter Hospitality as an initiative that is consistent with and aligned with our objective of identifying and building specific technology solutions that will deliver value to hospitality organizations,” said Douglas Rice, executive director of Hotel Technology-Next Generation.

Digital Enablement of the Consumer Marketplace

Smarter Hospitality utilizes familiar technologies already in the guests’ or employees’ hands to meet the changing expectations of the guest experience, which are in large part driven by the digital enablement of the consumer marketplace. By leveraging its expertise in the consumer market through products such as Windows Media® Player, Portable Media Centers, Windows® XP Media Center Edition, Tablet PCs and Xbox®
, Microsoft is well suited to help hospitality operators maximize the investments their guests have made in technology. In addition, Smarter Hospitality helps hoteliers and foodservice operators employ smart technology devices, such as Windows Mobile (TM) -based Smartphones and Pocket PCs, to interact with guests in an enhanced and powerful way while reducing the hospitality operator’s technology capital investment.

Microsoft Technology Framework

Based on proven technologies, Smarter Hospitality provides a business and technology infrastructure designed to optimize business processes, enabling hospitality operators to reduce costs, run more efficiently, gain greater business visibility, and make better and faster business decisions. The Smarter Hospitality architecture consists of the interoperability and integration advantages of the .NET Framework combined with standards-based software optimized to function out of the box, which eliminates the need for a complex services model and allows the hospitality industry to focus on issues that drive value.

The Microsoft technology platform for the hospitality industry includes the Microsoft Windows Embedded family of operating systems, which include Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded and Windows Embedded for Point of Service, for creating a wide range of devices such as point-of-service systems, kiosks and mobile devices; Microsoft SQL Server (TM) 2000 for native analytics and reports; and BizTalk® Server for superior integration. It also leverages Microsoft technologies such as Speech Server 2004, created to deliver a flexible, integrated speech platform that delivers the business value of speech in a truly cost-effective manner, and MapPoint®
Web Service, an integrated set of products and services that provide end-to-end mapping and location solutions.

About Microsoft Smarter Hospitality

Microsoft Smarter Hospitality is a comprehensive solutions framework for enabling the next generation of hospitality innovation. Consisting of Smarter Guest Experience, Smarter Service and Smarter Operations, Smarter Hospitality leverages current IT investments and the familiar technologies in guests’ or employees’ hands to create more engaging and empowering guest experiences, while laying the groundwork for future innovations. More information can be found at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows Media, Windows, Xbox, Windows Mobile, BizTalk and MapPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at .

Industry Customer Support

“We are looking forward to a constructive and innovative relationship to enhance our ability to service our customers of today and the future.”

  • Gebhard Rainer, Vice President of Hotel Finance and Technology, Hyatt International

“It’s great to see a major technology vendor like Microsoft step up to the plate in support of the hospitality industry.”

  • Nick Price, Chief Information officer and Chief Technology Officer, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

“The Smarter Hospitality initiative demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment and its focus on providing value to our industry through technology.”

  • Glenn Bonner, CIO, MGM Mirage

Industry Partner Support

“No single company could deliver 21st Century Concierge’s operational vision and totality of features. We needed to leverage and maximize the power of our strategic partners and are very appreciative of the exceptional response and support from Microsoft, Intel, Dell and Motion Computing. Leveraging the Microsoft development environment and deployment platforms enabled Ameranth to deliver this revolutionary product advancement in a fraction of the time required for products not leveraging the Microsoft architecture and tools.”

  • Keith McNally, CEO, Ameranth Wireless Inc.

“Nextprise offers hospitality providers a huge opportunity to improve the guest experience and the bottom line. It opens a whole new dimension of cost-effective ‘anytime-anywhere’ customer service, where multilingual CSRs can sell additional services while serving guests as needed.”

  • D.L. Baron, President, Experticity

“With over 20 years of voice automation expertise, Intervoice is pleased to continue working alongside Microsoft in such innovative initiatives such as Smarter Hospitality to help enhance customer service while reducing costs. Companies can now take advantage of solutions that suit the needs of both the large enterprises and service providers as well as those of small to medium-sized businesses in the travel and hospitality sector.”

  • Bob Ritchey, President, Intervoice

“We believe that enriching next-generation technology and content are key to capturing this space. By integrating the digital entertainment proficiency of KoolConnect with Microsoft’s software expertise and the world-class support capabilities of Unisys, we ensure that tomorrow’s guest will benefit from a richer, fuller and more guest-friendly multimedia experience.”

  • Eran Segev, President, KoolConnect Technologies

“There are plenty of specific application providers that exist for the retail and hospitality industry, but MP2 offers all the right components together to construct a complete mobility solution. We have the equipment, applications and subject-matter expertise to rapidly transform information and activity into action and profitability. This is an enormous differentiator in the marketplace and will help solidify Microsoft technology in the hospitality industry by justifying corporate investment and development in hospitality mobility.”

  • Todd J. Carey, Chief Executive Officer, MP2 Solutions

“We are pleased to be a part of Microsoft Smarter Hospitality. We believe that the combination of Microsoft’s technologies and leadership in this space with our revolutionary hotel beverage solution will help transform the hospitality industry — enabling a more enjoyable guest experience and making hotel operators more profitable. Our integrated enterprise solution creates an on-demand supply system fully synchronized with each participant within the beverage supply chain.”

  • Martin Arellano, Founder and CEO, ontap4u

“Success in the fragmented business of hospitality requires proven delivery experience and a combination of the right people, the right product, the right process and the right technology. The Unisys/KoolConnect Alliance has been both active and successful over the past six months with the deployment of a comprehensive multimedia solution in several acclaimed hotels across North America, and we’re looking forward to expanding this success via our relationship with Microsoft.”

  • Michael DiLeva, Managing Director, Unisys Travel & Hospitality Solutions

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