Analysts are giving Microsoft credit for doing better than expected in the retail POS (point of sale) space as it announces March 8 a new version that adds native support for several common peripherals.
The significance of the new support for the devices—including coin dispenser, keylock, MICR (magnetic ink character recognition), POS power, scale, signature capture and tone indicator—is found in the strong market-share held by rival Linux.
With its free license, Linux had quickly made inroads into the retail POS space, but Microsofts counter had always been a TCO (total cost of ownership) defense.
In short, Redmonds position has been that the cost of adding support and increased time spent integrating various peripherals in a Linux environment would likely cost retailers more than the license fee savings.
By adding native support for new peripherals—along with support for the National Retail Federations Unified Point of Service device standard 1.9—Windows Embedded POS 1.1 (WEPOS) is trying to strengthen its TCO argument.
The enhanced peripheral support would also, in theory, make it easier for retailers to use those older legacy peripherals longer, further improving the TCO position.
"Open and free doesnt equate to easy," said Jason Stolarczyk, Microsofts marketing manager for mobile and embedded devices.
"We look at not only what the current state of the OS or the interaction is, but at how this will interface with customers and store managers in the future."
Retailers have still been able to use these older legacy peripherals with the earlier version of Windows Embedded POS, but the version saves one step.
"Whats been happening is that retailers were able to use the peripherals, but they would just have to go in and install the API," Stolarczyk said.
"Now all of that is going to be included. There will be no additional steps to use a coin dispenser or a keylock."