Despite what you may have read in the business pages, Microsoft is not reserving all its development resources to battle Google in the search-engine wars. At its Tech Ed 2005 convention in June, the software giant announced development plans of an entirely different sort: the creation of systems that will make RFID technology cheaper and easier to use.
At the conference, the company revealed that it was developing a scalable RFID technology infrastructure that would let customers and partners connect line-of-business applications with RFID sensors and devices using familiar Windows technology. "The intent is to reduce the complexity and cost of integrating and managing RFID data in a company," Paul Flessner, Microsoft's senior vice president of server applications, told attendees.
Microsoft's announcement has met with enthusiasm among many in the industry. "Although RFID is experiencing rapid growth, it is hindered by myriad complex and disparate software solutions," says Dr. Bill Hardgrave, executive director of the University of Arkansas' recently opened RFID Research Center, which counts Microsoft as one of its founding partners. "Microsoft has a solid history of taking difficult situations and creating simple software solutions that are easy to deploy and use."
"This is really an endorsement of RFID technology," says Alan Melling, senior director of EPC Solutions at Symbol Technologies and an attendee at Tech Ed. "With Microsoft coming out and investing in RFID and saying that this is a core technology [for] many of the people who rely on the Microsoft infrastructure, it's yet another signpost that RFID is continuing to gain traction and will be broadly disseminated in the coming months and years."