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Going Mobile With Microsoft's New POS Plugins

Going Mobile With Microsoft's New POS Plugins

Microsoft announced that its XP operating system (OS) Service Pack 2 (SP2) will be embedded with the company's point of service (POS) platform, Windows Embedded for Point of Service. While embedded platforms are not new, Microsoft's venture is noteworthy because of the types of retail peripherals the software will support. Vendors will now have a set of plug ins to handle devices such as scanners, magnetic security readers, registers. And - marking an industry first - support for wireless devices.

The mobile support, Microsoft says, is designed to give vendors greater dexterity in handling emerging wireless technologies. Todd Warren, vice president of Microsoft's embedded devices division, said, "These solutions will give our customers even greater hardware flexibility through innovating plug-and-play technology as well as manageable platforms that enable emerging technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFI) or multimedia to enhance the customer experience."

Over 30 retail and hospitality vendors and device makers have come aboard Microsoft's latest venture in POS support. Clients include such industry heavy weights as Fujitsu, Seiko Epson, CRS Retail Systems, and BSQUARE.

Keith McNamara, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions' general merchandise vice president, said, "Our goal is to provide a platform that helps reduce costs and allows for the addition of new application at point of service that can improve in-store experience. Windows Embedded for POS is scheduled to be the next milestone in our technology road map."

The update will contain the new security and management features of XP SP2, and will include new support in XP Embedded for Software Update Services patch management and DirectX 9 - for enhanced multimedia experiences. These new features also support thin client terminals or kiosks to easily and quickly add emerging technologies. The embedded platform will also make it easier for vendors to deploy the software.

Additionally, communications technologies like wireless networking have been added, in order to spur new retail solutions. Added to this is multimedia support for Windows Media Player.

Altiris, which partnered with Microsoft, said the management and point of service features will enable corporations to move beyond their desktops, and extend their life-cycle platforms. "What it means for us is that we can manage those devices, all of the POS systems, and we can deploy, track and manage them and keep them in a business-continuity mode," said Kirsten Ward, Altiris' director of global channel strategy.

Microsoft will ship its Point of Service (POS) software platform imbedded into its XP operating system, SP2. The move is significant because, for the first time, plugins are included that support wireless devices, and management of retailers' device peripherals. Some major corporations have already joined Microsoft in its POS push.

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