Microsoft is working with device manufacturers Motorola Solutions, Intermec, Honeywell,Ingenico and Bluebird on a new generation of devices powered by Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, the next generation of the Windows Embedded Handheld platform built on Windows Phone 8. At the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & EXPO this week, Microsoft is showcasing a range of technologies that enable retailers to realize hidden value by fostering the flow of data across their infrastructures, driving strategic insights and fueling business decisions.
â€œFrom the retailerâ€™s backroom to its store aisles and its digital channels, the front line for gaining customer loyalty is diverse,â€ says Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded at Microsoft. â€œOne of the biggest goals for retailers is to give sales associates the technology they need to be effective at their jobs, including the handheld devices specifically designed for these environments. Itâ€™s not about impressing the customer with technology; itâ€™s about taking advantage of technology that transforms the customer experience, and with our partners, weâ€™re creating security-enhanced, enterprise-class devices that help retailers do just that.â€
The devices offer the latest technology support, including intuitive touch usability; support for mobile point-of-service (POS) scenarios such as line-busting; and new application interfaces that make it easy to build line-of-business applications for taking advantage of peripherals, such as barcode scanners, magnetic stripe readers and receipt printers.
â€œThe landscape for retailers and enterprises across many industries is undoubtedly evolving, with handheld devices continuing to emerge as strategic assets that empower workers, service customers and fuel vital operational intelligence to the back end,â€ says Girish Rishi, senior vice president of Enterprise Solutions for Motorola Solutions. â€œBy extending Windows Phone 8, Windows Embedded 8 Handheld will provide Motorola Solutionsâ€™ customers with devices that deliver a rich, flexible experience for employees and an intelligent, connected experience for the customer and retailer.â€
The Home Depot is one of the first companies to benefit from this deep level of collaboration between Microsoft and Motorola Solutions, with their Windows Embedded 8 Handheld app featuring advanced tools such as voice search and easy-to-use, touch-enabled business apps â€” such as those on a typical Windows Phone 8 smartphone â€” in devices that can still withstand the daily rigor of the retail environment.
That requires technology that not only simplifies processes such as inventory management and business analytics, but also speeds up checkout, seamlessly connects online and store processes such as buy-online-pickup-in-store, enables quick communication between associates, and puts information at the fingertips of sales associates to help them easily find products and the product information they need to provide great service.
The handheld devices are part of a larger solution that also includes in-store Windows PCs, where retail associates can get more information about promotions, provide project estimates and schedule home installation appointments.
Managers use a touch-enabled Store Management dashboard to gain quick access to operational analytics, POS data, building maintenance controls and the ability to control in-store digital signage.
Organizations can benefit from enterprise-class manageability, and both Microsoft and Windows Phone 8 management partners already offer solutions that support Windows Embedded 8 Handheld.
Software developers will benefit from the Windows Phone 8 support of Visual Studio 2012, and enterprise application developers can start developing applications today using the Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK). Microsoft is also delivering new, common application programming interfaces (APIs) for industry peripherals such as magnetic stripe readers; Europay, MasterCard, Visa payment readers; receipt printers; and bar code scanners and imagers, making it easier for developers to create line-of-business applications that are supported across all Windows Embedded 8 Handheld devices with those peripherals.
Later this year, Microsoft will release the Windows Embedded 8 Handheld SDK, which will provide the additional APIs for accessing industry peripherals. Enterprises and developers alike will also benefit from the compatibility with Windows Phone 8 applications. Windows Embedded 8 Handheld supports off-the-shelf business and productivity applications such as Microsoft Lync,Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics for Retail.
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