Paul Demery , Chief Technology Editor
CompUSA, Regal Entertainment Group and Rite Aid Are Among Retailers Benefiting From Microsoft Technology-Based Solutions
ISVs and Peripheral Vendors Demonstrate Support for Microsoft .NET Framework and Windows Embedded for Point of Service
NEW YORK -- Jan. 17, 2005 -- Today at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention and EXPO, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced continued momentum for Microsoft(R) Smarter Retailing, a comprehensive solutions framework designed to enable the next generation of retail innovation. Momentum is fueled by new Microsoft .NET-based partner solutions from CRS Retail Systems Inc., Fujitsu and JDA Software Group Inc.; upcoming Microsoft products such as Windows(R) Embedded for Point of Service; new industry partners such as APG Cash Drawer Inc. and Hand Held Products; and continued adoption of Microsoft technologies by leading retailers including CompUSA, Meijer, Regal Entertainment Group and Rite Aid Corp.
"On the one-year anniversary of Microsoft Smarter Retailing, we are thrilled with our industry partners` level of commitment to the initiative and the benefits retailers are experiencing through our technologies and our partner solutions," said Brian Scott, general manager for the Retail & Hospitality Industry Solutions Unit at Microsoft. "Our vision for Smarter Retailing is paying off with retail solutions that take advantage of the interoperability and integration advantages of the Microsoft .NET Framework combined with standards-based software that will provide immediate and long-term benefits to retailers."
Launched at NRF last January, Microsoft Smarter Retailing is designed to help retailers dramatically improve the ways they sell and operate through better access to customer and product information. Smarter Retailing focuses on three critical areas -- Smarter Shopping, Smarter Selling and Smarter Operations -- which reflect Microsoft`s vision that business value will emerge at the boundaries of the retail enterprise, where retailers interact with customers and suppliers.
The following are highlights of recent Microsoft Smarter Retailing momentum that demonstrate enhancements to operations, selling and shopping.
Windows Embedded for Point of Service
Today at NRF, industry-leading retail peripheral vendors and independent software vendors (ISVs), including APG Cash Drawer Inc., CRS Retail Systems Inc., Fujitsu, HP, Hand Held Products, MMF Cash Drawer, NSB Group, Preh Electronics Inc., Star Micronics America Inc., Ultimate Technology Corp., and Wincor-Nixdorf Inc., are announcing support for Windows Embedded for Point of Service in their devices and applications. Windows Embedded for Point of Service, based on technologies available in Windows XP Embedded, will be the first retail optimized software platform to provide plug-and-play functionality to enable retail peripherals to be easily installed and managed. Easier integration and management of retail device peripherals through plug-and-play functionality will help lower device life-cycle costs and help reduce time spent connecting devices.
The early joint development program for Windows Embedded for Point of Service has grown to include 40 companies worldwide, and Microsoft is working closely with these companies to develop solutions. Windows Embedded for Point of Service will be available from Windows Embedded partners in the spring of 2005. Customers interested in learning more about the product should contact Microsoft or visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/embedded/getstart/devplat/pos .
Continued Retailer Support for Microsoft Technologies
Leading retailers such as the following continue to adopt Microsoft technologies for their in-store systems, experiencing significant benefits that include lower total cost of ownership (TCO), increased return on investment, faster time to market, more-streamlined operations and enhanced customer service:
-- Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater operator in the United States, selected Windows XP Embedded for its point-of-service concession stands and ticket kiosks. After an in-depth comparison of Red Hat Linux vs. Windows XP Embedded, Regal Entertainment Group found that Microsoft products would deliver a lower TCO, improved security and fewer risks.
"Regal Entertainment Group chose Windows XP Embedded for a major overhaul of our theater systems to integrate three major point-of-service systems, streamline reporting and improve central management of theater operations," said J.E. Henry, chief information officer at Regal Entertainment Group. "Plus, we can now add support for gift cards and a customer loyalty program that will bring new revenue. Not only do we project millions of dollars in cost savings over the next five years, we are gaining a long-term solution that will be enhanced and supported for the next 10 years through Microsoft`s product road map and long-term commitments to the embedded market."
-- Meijer, a family owned and operated grocery and general merchandise retailer celebrating its 70th anniversary, is using Microsoft .NET for its supply chain integration of all supplier and partner solutions. This integration has enabled Meijer to share data in real time and enabled partners to play an active role in understanding sales patterns at the store level and anticipating future needs. As Meijer continues to roll out applications, Microsoft`s .NET platform infrastructure allows for faster time to market and reduced integration costs.
-- Rite Aid, one of the country`s leading drugstore chains, is using Windows XP Embedded for its retail store systems in approximately 3,400 stores nationwide. Rite Aid is using Windows XP Embedded to enhance the customer experience and streamline business processes.
-- CompUSA, one of the largest retailers and resellers of personal computer-related products and services in the United States, moved to 64-bit computing supported by Windows Server(TM) 2003 and SQL Server(TM) 2000 Enterprise Edition to boost its data warehouse performance. The resulting benefits are improved operations through better visibility into the metrics that drive profitability, faster report creation, a more efficient and customizable user experience, and scalability to meet future growth.
-- El Corte Ingles, the largest retailer in Spain, with over 23,000 point-of-sale devices, needed a single, secure and robust platform to support all its systems. El Corte Ingles has chosen to standardize all its in-store processes and devices on Windows XP Embedded and the Avenew Point of Service Solution developed by Accenture and Informatica El Corte Ingles.
Retail Industry Partners` Commitment to Building Microsoft .NET-Based Solutions
Another demonstration of support for Microsoft Smarter Retailing is the commitment of more than 25 retail industry partners to delivering solutions and services that use the Microsoft .NET Framework, the programming model for building Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based Web services and applications that span from the device to the datacenter. The following leading industry partners are announcing solutions fully built with Microsoft .NET:
-- CRS Retail Systems has enhanced its CRS MobileStore suite -- a .NET-architected productivity application that extends key store system functions beyond the cash-wrap and manager`s workstation with wireless devices running Windows Mobile(TM) software for Pocket PC -- helping untether store managers so they can be more responsive to customers. In addition, the CRS RetailStore point-of-sale solution is the first in the industry to receive Microsoft .NET Connected for Smarter Retailing Logo certification based on adherence to Web services standards, utilization of the Microsoft .NET Framework and compliance with the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) IXRetail standard XML schemas. CRS plans to deliver other Microsoft .NET-architected applications throughout the year.
-- Fujitsu`s GlobalSTORE point-of-sale software platform has been enhanced to incorporate the .NET Framework and integrate with Visual Studio(R) .NET 2003. GlobalSTORE is a full-featured, customizable POS, cash-management and back-office application that enables retailers to customize and deploy POS applications more quickly and at lower cost. It is designed for general merchandise and specialty retailers.
-- JDA Software Group today launched the first phase of its Microsoft .NET-based PortfolioEnabled products, providing software applications on a common, services-oriented architecture as a single, seamless enterprise offering while retaining the critical capability to deliver each application as a point solution.
Smarter Retailing in Action
Microsoft is demonstrating Smarter Retailing in action at this year`s NRF conference. A number of Microsoft technologies and industry partner solutions will be featured in Microsoft`s booth No. 413, and within the X05 eXploration In Retail smart store in booth No. 259.
About Microsoft Smarter Retailing
Microsoft Smarter Retailing helps retailers win today by leveraging current investments, and win tomorrow by easing delivery of new retail experiences. Consisting of Smarter Shopping, Smarter Selling and Smarter Operations, the Smarter Retailing Initiative is designed to close the loop between the retailer`s strategy, the in-store execution and familiar technologies already in the consumer`s hands. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/smartretail .
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