Target to standardize retail stores on Windows, .Net

Microsoft said Target is standardizing all in-store systems in 1,400 U.S. retail stores on Windows, .Net and SQL Server.

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a deal to outfit Target retail stores in the U.S. with server, database and development software to run all areas of store operations.

Under the terms of the deal, which is part of Microsoft's Smarter Retailing Initiative, Target will migrate all of its 1,400 stores in 47 U.S. states from its current mishmash of legacy systems to Microsoft infrastructure, including Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0, Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005, said Tom Litchford, director for Microsoft's retail and hospitality industry unit.

Target currently uses Microsoft software as well as Unix technology to run point of sale, back-office, inventory cash management and shelf audit applications, he said.

The migration to a Microsoft environment began late last year with Microsoft and several independent software vendors (ISVs), who did not wish to be named, running the project, Litchford added. The new technology is expected to be deployed in phases through the end of 2009 or early 2010, he said.

Lena Michaud, a Target spokeswoman, confirmed that the company's U.S. retail stores are in the process of a migration to a Windows/.Net infrastructure, but she said the company could not disclose further information about the deal.

Microsoft launched the Smarter Retailing Initiative two years ago this week on the advice of its partner and customer advisory board, which recognized a significant opportunity in the retail market to help companies migrate from legacy systems to Web-services-based technologies, Litchford said. Microsoft's partners said they did not know how to target retailers specifically and asked for help from the software company, he said.

Microsoft worked on the initiative for 18 months, coming up with what Litchford said is a "prescriptive architecture" for how ISVs could provide their applications on top of Microsoft software for retail companies.