Microsoft forms its own RFID group

The software giant pulls together partners, including Accenture, into the Microsoft Radio Frequency Identification Council.

Microsoft is out to take a more formal role in the development of radio frequency identification technology.

The software giant on Monday announced that it is forming the Microsoft Radio Frequency Identification Council, which is set to hold its first meeting this month. Participants in the group include Accenture, GlobeRanger, Intermec Technologies and Provia Software.

Microsoft said it will be providing a "platform," on which the partners can create RFID-based products and services, drawing on its own Windows CE operating system, SQL Server database and BizTalk Server software.

The companies will be tackling a highly touted technology still in its early stages. RFID systems combine microchips and wireless gadgetry to provide tiny tracking devices for products, with the resulting set-ups expected to streamline supply chains and help retailers keep better records of their inventory.

But the switchover from bar codes to RFID tags isn't happening as fast as some had hoped. Suppliers to retailer Wal-Mart Stores, for instance, aren't likely to meet the target Wal-Mart set for adoption of the technology, according to a recent study.

"With RFID in the early stages of adoption, we are continuing to expand and evolve our partner-driven strategy based on the needs of the industry," said Javed Sikander, a program manager for RFID strategy at Microsoft.

Microsoft, like competitors Oracle and IBM, is working to develop middleware for RFID systems. In January, it added RFID technology to its Axapta Warehouse Management software for small and midsize businesses.

The company also said on Monday that it has joined forces with EPCglobal, an organization that is developing RFID standards for the Electronic Product Code Network.

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