Microsoft’s RFID Pow-Wow

Seeking a foothold in the emerging market, Microsoft today announced the charter members of a Radio Frequency Identification industry group.

The Microsoft RFID Council, comprised of independent software developers and end-users, will hold its first meeting this month. Among the firms participating are Accenture, GlobeRanger, HighJump Software, Intermec Technologies, Manhattan Associates and Provia Software.

Microsoft wants to be the platform for partners to create RFID offerings, and the Redmond, Wash., giant provides many technologies that can collect and manage data from RFID implementations, including Microsoft Windows CE, SQL Server and BizTalk Server, while Visual Studio is used by ISVs such as GlobeRanger to develop RFID applications.

“The formation of the Microsoft RFID Council is part of our commitment to continue to work closely with our customers and partners to ensure they receive the greatest value and opportunity when building their RFID solutions with Microsoft technologies,” Javed Sikander, program manager for RFID strategy at Microsoft, said in a statement. Microsoft executives were not available for comment.

“It makes sense for Microsoft, which is trying to promote the .Net platform,” said Erik Michielsen, an ABI Research analyst. “Whenever a new market forms, they try to form some industry group that acts as a greenhouse for solutions for that emerging technology. They want to make sure that these companies that build high-end solutions for customers will build off a foundation of Microsoft technology.”

The goal of the council is not to create end-to-end offerings for customers, said John Koenigs, president and CEO of GlobeRanger, which provides RFID software built on the .Net Framework and does its development work using Visual Studio. He said meetings of the council taking place in Redmond this week will cover integration capabilities and solutions architectures.

“Microsoft is interested in developing applications and solutions against its target verticals,” Koenigs said, “and GlobeRanger can provide capabilities that Microsoft and future customers can leverage.”

Todd Gage, vice president of product development for Provia Software, told that his company’s participation will help Microsoft make products that better serve developers and end-users.

“They’ll be better aware of what our needs are and put them into the Microsoft products we use. Microsoft will be able to take our input, address areas that cause us pain, and come out with new versions of their products that will make it faster and easier to produce [RFID solutions],” Gage said.

RFID Council members will also promote Microsoft’s platform, said ABI’s Michielsen.

“These companies have existing relationships with customers, and this can extend .Net into RFID and continue to build Microsoft’s presence and dominance across the enterprise.” he said.

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