Cash registers ching Java

Sun Microsystems Inc. joined today with a group of retailers to unveil a standard for Java-based point-of-sale applications, which would allow devices like cash registers, bar code readers, and scanners to interoperate.

The standard is meant to rival Microsoft Corp.'s OLE Point of Sale. Microsoft (MSFT) had updated the OPOS in November to include Plug-and-Play. That standard uses the Component Object Model and Win32 API in Windows-based terminals, NetPCs, PCs and Windows CE products. Microsoft had signed up 160 companies and the Association for Retail Technology Standards to its technology.

Sun (SUNW), by comparison, has signed on nationally known retailers, including Sears Roebuck & Co. The Home Depot, and J.C. Penney Co., as well as IBM and NCR Corp.,among the largest POS vendors.

The Sun standard was announced in December. According to Sun, it "embraces" the OPOS standard, "extending it to the next logical level of platform and operating system independence" by mapping it to Java. This will allow developers to migrate to the Java standard without having to lose legacy systems, Sun said in a release.

"The inspiration for JavaPOS is that many retailers recognize that proprietary POS hardware and software platforms put them at a competitive disadvantage, particularly with the emergence of the Internet and so many new technologies that will tie into store systems," Bob DeLaney, head of world-wide market development for retail at Sun, said in a release.

The Home Depot is set to deploy several Java applications at its 700 stores nationwide,according to Mike Anderson, the company's IS director, who was quoted in the release. The company plans to write applications for tasks including inventory replenishment and human resources management, and to distribute Java-based thin clients to its stores, in forms including handheld devices and carts positioned around their stores.

The JavaPOS standard is available for review at

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