By  on April 19, 2007

Microsoft has updated its two-year-old point-of-sale operating system, which is increasingly being taken up by retailers from Harrods to Chico's. Windows Embedded for Point of Service 1.1 Update improves support for languages and devices.

The former is "very significant," said David Feld­man, Microsoft's senior product manager, because retailers can offer kiosks and self-checkout terminals with a choice of languages such as French and Spanish.

The new release will also let retailers plug in devices like printers, magnetic stripe readers and keyboards that will work automatically. Makers of POS terminals and other vendors started receiving the new version of the software about two weeks ago, said Feldman. If bought directly from Microsoft, the operating system would retail for $100.

Windows Embedded for Point of Service is a streamlined version of Microsoft's XP Pro­fessional operating system intended specifically for POS terminals. Microsoft makes POS application software for both regular Windows personal computers and terminals. A mom-and-pop shop with one register that is also used as a computer would be likely to choose the PC option. A regional retailer with 10 to 1,000 stores would be more likely to choose Windows terminals, which are typically less expensive than a full-fledged computer.

The embedded operating system already offered Internet access and multimedia. Virgin Megastore, for example, has used Windows Embedded for Point of Service on listening kiosks in some of its stores here and abroad. A customer can swipe the bar code of any CD, and the kiosk will present information about the CD and samples of every song, said Feldman.

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