Microsoft'S RFID Framework Due In '06

At Tech Ed 2005 in Orlando recently, Microsoft Server Vice President Paul Flessner said the company's RFID offering will perform event management based on a built-in rules engine. Such an engine will enable the software to "sense" business events and take appropriate action, Flessner said.

More significantly, Microsoft's RFID framework will be encapsulated within enterprise applications, such as Microsoft's Axapta 4.0, due next year. The company also will offer its RFID object model and APIs to device manufacturers and ISVs—allowing them to plug into Microsoft's RFID framework and enabling out-of-the-box inventory tracking on the Windows platform, he said.

"It will be a breakthrough in managing inventory, shipping and distribution," Flessner said. "We're far along, but we still have a lot of testing to do."

Microsoft last year created an RFID partner advisory council (PAC) to assess the needs of its service and software partners.

Sponsored post

A number of partners in particular vertical industries stand to benefit from Microsoft's RFID solution, one service executive said. "This is something that end users are becoming very interested in, and it could be a good service offering for partners who service manufacturer and retail markets," said Paul Freeman, president of Coast Solutions Group, Irvine, Calif. Ken Winell, CEO of Econium, a Totowa, N.J., subsidiary of Visalign, agreed: "Lots of clients are interested in RFID, especially around the point-of-sale stuff," he said. "We are doing some really cool things with distribution and delivery solutions, so the Microsoft RFID [offering] will complement and extend that."

Steven Martin, senior product manager for Microsoft's business process and integration division, said the code will be offered as a device management layer to enable vendor plug-and-play capability, so that scanners and automated data-collection devices can plug into terminals and kiosks as seamlessly as USB-enabled digital cameras plug into PCs.

Key partners in the inventory management space, such as Symbol Technologies and Printronics, announced plans to support Microsoft's RFID framework. The Microsoft RFID framework additionally will be offered as components that developers and ISVs can embed in their applications. It will also complement the company's recently released Windows Embedded for Point of Service operating system for the retail industry, Martin said.

Final packaging and pricing decisions have not been made, but Microsoft has not ruled out the possibility of marketing a stand-alone server, Martin said.