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Microsoft

Microsoft Launches RFID Software Project 185

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-surprises-here dept.
securitas writes "RFID Journal reports on the first Microsoft RFID software pilot project. Microsoft launched the six-month pilot in December with KiMs, Denmark's largest snack food producer. Microsoft plans to bring the new RFID-enabled supply chain management software (Axapta Warehouse Management) to market next year, targeting small- to medium-sized businesses. The news comes after Microsoft announced its Smarter Retailing Initiative, tools based on RFID and .Net Web services. More on this latest development at CNet and InformationWeek."
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Microsoft Launches RFID Software Project

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  • Re:first walmart (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cgranade (702534) <cgranade@ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:02PM (#8101061) Homepage Journal

    well, with walmart and microsoft onside it's pretty much inevitable now...

    microwave everything!

    Sounds funny coming from Frymaster...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:04PM (#8101082)
    even if your not using bloatware
    pallet #245 has 300 items on it, how many bit is each rfid tag? 32 bits * 300 items (a bit over 1kB) per pallet (big items or small pallet) 64 bits? (over 2kB) what about the pallet of kazzos, 100000 * 64 bits (~800kB per pallet).

    how large will the tracking databases have to get?
    pallet #245 makes 3 stops before it gets to the final reseller, warehouse 1,2 and 3 then add 2kb per pallet of this product to each of their databases as they track it.

    oh well, hard drives are cheap, bandwidth is cheap, heck even privacy is cheap (at the rate we watch it being given up, you'd think we where giving away air)
  • RFID and Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by millahtime (710421) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:06PM (#8101119) Homepage Journal
    RFID tags can be a very useful tool in some industries. In the field I work it has the potential to save millions of dollars. But, here comes Microsoft. To have them involved usually means some proprietary standard pushed and all kinds of licensing costs. This I don't like. The licensing fees alone could negate the profits the technology is even good for.
  • by Inflatable Hippo (202606) <inflatable_hippo ... k ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:06PM (#8101121) Journal
    ... That they were going to embed RFIDs into the software CDs.

    Having a key in the chip that's required to decode the CD would be an interesting variation of the dongle concept.

    If there was a cheap USB RFID reader that shipped with the S/W it might even be practical.
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06 @ e m ail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:13PM (#8101218)
    From www.spychips.com [spychips.com]:

    Q: Can I microwave products to kill any hidden RFID tags they might contain?

    A: While microwaving an RFID tag will destroy it (a microwave emits high frequency electromagnetic energy that overloads the antenna, eventually blowing out the chip), there is a good chance the the tag will burst into flames first. The difficulty of destroying a hidden RFID chip is one reason we need legislation making it illegal to hide a chip in an item in the first place.

  • by 10101001011 (744876) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:17PM (#8101258) Homepage
    I am looking at this story and thinking: "they never learn".

    While I understand Microsoft is a well known brand name that people trust, I must ask the inevitable question: "Why do they trust Microsoft?"

    Surely the people ordering these products must know the poor reputation MS has for quality control. Think back to Windows 95 Revision A. Type a password that is 99 characters or more and it skips the authentication. Or perhaps the numerous bugs that fill Outlook, MS IE and so many of their other vital products. Yes they can make computing easier and I wouldn't hesitate to point someone who is new to computers to Windows due to the simplicity you must also ask yourself if it is that simple then it probably shouldn't be used on critical systems and frankly ordering is fairly critical.

    I remember when a bank used MS software on some of their ATMS and the machine began shooting out money. I am not sure what was the root cause but surely it is tied to the fact that MS's OS was installed.

    There is also the question of interoperability. If you have a computer that runs Windows XP, a bank machine, a cash regsiter, an ordering system and a security system that run Windows .Net architecture and a virus is released it means that while they aren't all the same, the virus can be easily altered to fit that system, especially with the number of systems that are being networked.

    On a similar note some of you may have seen the newer cash registers that use some very simple operating system I have noticed a significant number of lockups on these machines whereas when I used to work at a coffee store we used a simple electronic cash with LED number display and I think we had a total of two lockups, one was caused by a paper jam.

    It was that diversity of operating systems and the lack of availability of some of the more commercial ones that gave them a sense of security. Not to mention most of the "OSes" were so simple (because they needn't be any more complex than a calculator to work) that it was very hard to cause problems save for a few isolated cases.

    Do we really need this many systems running computer software when a calculator can work just as efficiently? I have no problem with people who want to put an OS on something to say "we can!" but perhaps we ought to ask ourselves: "should we? Do we really need it?" before touting the benefits of something like this.

    I don't want this to sound like I am just bashing MS, quite the opposite, I praise them on their marketing ability and their general ingenuity but perhaps we ought to think:

    Do we really need Norton AntiVirus on our cash regiters?
  • by /Wegge (2960) <awegge@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:25PM (#8101350) Homepage

    While I understand Microsoft is a well known brand name that people trust, I must ask the inevitable question: "Why do they trust Microsoft?"


    A good guess is that this pilot project was started between Kim's and Navision (also a Danish company). Navision was the biggest (European) provider of ERP systems for midsize enterprises. Microsoft aquired Navision a few years back, so now of course the pilot project gets slapped the MS label all over it.

    Besides that, this project is aimed at Supply-chain managment, where each pallet in the warehouse is tagged. Not the individual products, so you can, for the time being at least, forget your worries about exploding cach registers.
  • by stephenisu (580105) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:30PM (#8101428)
    Well it seems that one of SCO's only decent markets (Retail POS systems) is going down the pooper. If Microsoft convinces the large retail chains that having a Microsoft managed inventory and POS system will be benificial, SCO is further screwed (but who do I root for?) My apologies to any red headed step-children.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:39PM (#8101528)
    That is the way of the world. There has always been a class of slave labor, you just started noticing that it is beginning to match your ethnicicity.
    North&South-Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Africans are sheep being lead to a slaughter. And Most will happily forge their own shackles, just as the poor fools in Russia did in 1919. They were trading one set of chains for another, and it took them 60 some years to undo that mistake.
    It is a cyclical problem, mostly going unnoticed throughout history. But thanks to the US (even with all its shortcomings), there has been a semi-stable model of freedom to strive for - or use as a model of what to avoid as the people see fit.
    As America slides into decadent socialism, the last true middle class population will disappear and the old tried and true class and caste systems will doom billions to the slavery or serfdom.
  • by charliedog (688216) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:41PM (#8101555)

    My company does a lot of work for the US Department of Defense in this area. The biggest problem in that we face is that there are no standards yet. One vendor's tags can't be read by another vendor's interogators. So in order to set up an end-to-end supply chain system, DoD has had to stick with one company, Savi and his proprietary,expensive, and closed system.

    Supply chain management within DoD would realize huge improvements with something like a universally readable active tag. With Microsoft and Wallmart into the action, hopefully, some standards will emerge

  • by YaiEf (598365) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @02:22PM (#8102069)
    Actually that's a valid concern.

    I have been looking at solutions for a small store to integrate their cash register with most likely a Microsoft system like C5 or Attain (comparable to Axapta but inteded for smaller companies).

    There aren't any limits in the system itself - but a lot of software limits have been placed. Among those are the size of the database. First of all if you move beyond a certain size you will have to pay an amount (starting at $3000 if I remember correctly) to get an MSSQL instead of just using a file. And secondly you have to pay for the size of the database - a cost that can easily move beyond both 5 and 10 thousand dollars if you have gigabytes of data. And those systems are not great at saving space.

    Also if you think it sounds cheap - then this is for a small system of up to 5 concurrent users - about enough for perhaps two small stores.

    Hard drives may be cheap - but here it's Microsoft making the limitations.
  • RFIDs killer app (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:53PM (#8103969) Homepage
    So, here's my idea (patent pending). Get RFIDs cheap enough for consumers to buy decent amounts of them (Walmart will do this once they force their suppliers to use them, they WILL get the lowest margins, yay for Walmart for once).

    Next, there needs to be a cheap piece of hardware that lets you program/read the RFIDs. THe final step is to have open-source software developed that enables you to search for RFIDs in your house, and displays on a map of your house where the item is. And it could also keep stock of how many groceries were in your fridge and order things ahead of time if it needs to. It could also keep track of where people are in the house (useful for parents with little kids) and could be very useful for automating your house. Think "i put the coffee cup with its chip inside the coffee machine with its reader, it does the rest". Think "pull car into garage, have RFID reader automatically start dinner/announce your arrival."

    And these are just some of the more obvious uses, I'm sure people would think things up that would be a lot more useful.

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