Microsoft helps retailers become 'Smarter'

Microsoft aims to make IT management in the retail environment easier with the launch of a modified version of Windows.

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By  David Ingham Published  May 11, 2005

Microsoft will soon introduce a modified version of Windows designed for use on point of sale devices. Windows Embedded for Point of Service is currently scheduled for a ‘Spring 2005’ release and is supported by several software and retail peripherals firms, including Wincor-Nixdorf, Fujitsu and HP. According to Microsoft, devices running Windows Embedded for Point of Service will be easier to manage and, because of the plug and play functionality of Windows, easier to connect to other peripherals. “Typically, there has been a cost of operation associated with managing a point of sale device,” Andy Belcher, business development manager, retail and hospitality, Microsoft EMEA, told ITP.net. “Windows Embedded for Point of Service utilises plug and play functionality to reduce the cost of managing those discreet peripherals. We also have some remote manageability features in the product that provide integration of that device in the retail enterprise.” Windows Embedded for Point of Service forms part of Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing strategy, which was unveiled in early 2004. With Smarter Retailing, Microsoft is encouraging retailers to open up backend IT systems and use the data stored there to improve customer service and boost profitability. In practice, this could mean allowing customers to access product information or do their shopping from their mobile phones and other digital devices. In another example, retailers are starting to equip trolleys with LCDs and readers that can scan customer loyalty cards. Stores can then start to tell customers, whilst they are doing their shopping, about promotions and products that may be of interest. To enable this, Microsoft is encouraging adoption of a number of its technologies, including Windows Embedded, BizTalk Server and SQL Server. “The way in which we see Smarter Retailing adding real benefits to retailers is that they can start to make use of the information that they currently store in the back end,” said Belcher.

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