Microsoft Corp will today announce enhancements to its operating system for retail terminals, including support for the latest versions of the hardware interoperability standard for this area and version 2.0 of the company’s .NET Framework for developing web services, as well as support for legacy peripherals.
Microsoft dominates the market for operating systems in point-of-service (formerly point-of-sale) terminals. In 2004, the most recent year for which consolidated figures exist, 70% of all POS devices shipped with a Microsoft OS. Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 2000, XP, and XP Embedded are all found on POS terminals, according to David Dobson, industry manager for EMEA in Microsoft’s Retail Industry Unit.
Dobson said 2004 was the last year in which Microsoft sought to address the POS market with generic operating systems because even XP Embedded required a degree of bespoke adaptation for each terminal model onto which it was loaded.
In March 2005, the company launched the WEPOS platform for this market. WEPOS is really a standard-install version of XP Embedded, with a small footprint and retail-specific features such as support for barcode scanners, cash drawers, and the most common printers used in stores, said Dobson.
The new release of WEPOS is version 1.1, which includes a number of enhancements. Firstly, the new release supports the latest version of the Unified Point of Service (UPOS) standard, i.e. v1.9, which adds page mode printing rather than just small receipts, as well as support for credit authorization terminals (CAT) with electronic money, which enables support for things like MasterCard’s Mondex smart card, said Dobson. In addition, WEPOS 1.1 adds support for more legacy retail peripherals such as coin dispensers, keylocks, magnetic ink character recognition, scales, signature capture, and tone indicators. Meanwhile, by extending its .NET Framework support to version 2.0 of the development environment, the platform enables a better set-up to enable expanded support for mass storage devices, as well as pre- and post-set-up command file functionality.
Microsoft wants to increase its POS market share beyond the 70% it enjoyed in 2004. It will be putting pressure on a variety of other operating systems that made up the remaining 30% at that time, namely DOS itself as well as IBM’s 4690, SCO Unix, and Linux platforms from Red Hat and Novell.