Obscure Microsoft product behind halt of Windows releases

Compatibility glitch with latest versions of Windows casts spotlight on Dynamics Retail Management System, a tool to help midsize retailers manage their stores.

A compatibility glitch with the latest versions of Windows has thrust the spotlight onto a little-known product from Microsoft's Dynamics line for midsize businesses.

Microsoft said on Tuesday that it was delaying the availability of Windows XP Service Pack 3 and halting automatic updates to Vista Service Pack 1 because of problems with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System.

Just what is Dynamics RMS?

It's software that enables specialty retailers to handle cash register functions, process payments, and automate purchasing, inventory and other back-end processes, said Michael Griffiths, the group product manager for the retail part of the Dynamics business.

Dynamics RMS is used to manage about 38,000 different store locations, he said.

Perhaps its most notable customer is the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, who use it to handle all of their merchandising activities, in conjunction with Microsoft's Dynamics AX product.

Microsoft acquired Dynamics RMS as part of its 2002 acquisition of Southern California-based Sales Management Systems, and it last updated the product in January 2007.

Griffiths said the Dynamics team discovered the issue as part of its testing and realized that the problem could lead to data loss.

"The key issue is, there is a potential for data loss within the RMS solution itself, which is obviously something we wanted to make sure we address immediately," Griffiths said.

He didn't offer a specific reason why the company didn't catch the issue sooner. "It just happened this was the time and place when we did find the issue," he said.

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