Windows to become RFID-friendly

Microsoft wants to boost the uptake of the wireless tracking technology by giving readers and tags plug-and-play compatibility

Microsoft is planning to make RFID applications and tag-readers compatible with Windows.

According to Scott Woodgate, group product manager of business processes for Microsoft, the company is trying to integrate RFID programs with the operating system and make the majority of devices work with plug-and-play functionality.

"RFID has not been widely adopted because of the cost of devices and implementation of management. One of the things we're doing is working on standards-based and non-standards-based RFID readers. There's a whole host of them out there and they'll work on Windows as plug-and-play devices," said Woodgate.

Woodgate said compliance and business needs are driving the demand for RFID tags: "People will build applications that use RFID. You will get visualisation of what stock you have in your warehouse, or what stock is on the way from San Francisco to Detroit. You'll get that information in real time and it'll be faster than chasing people and checking inventories."

On Tuesday Microsoft announced a partnership with RFID company Alien Technology and said it will provide plug-and-play compatibility for the company's RFID reader and tag products.

Alien is also taking part in an RFID council that Microsoft created to look at issues such as privacy. Woodgate said: "There is the privacy issue of RFID. 'Concerned' is the wrong word but we take very seriously the privacy issues of RFID. Standard measures need to be in place as with any technology to ensure that there's privacy for everyone."

The company has yet to release details of which versions of Windows will be compatible with RFID devices but yesterday at the TechEd conference in Amsterdam, Microsoft staff demonstrated a pre-beta version working on Windows Server 2003.

"We've made no decisions on how to package this but it works with many of the readers worldwide," Woodgate said.

He would not comment on when the Windows RFID functionality will be released.