Microsoft has pushed out a release that suggests it is getting deeper into the digital signage sector, having worked with Stratacache to develop the software image for a media player aimed squarely at the retail sector. The Stratacache Spectra S-200 Series 2 media player was configured to run on Windows Embedded Standard 2009, and using just an Intel Atom CPU, plays out video at 1080P while using no more than 10 watts of power.
The release doesn’t say a whole bunch about anything, but does point to a case study that has a lot more meat in it.
“In early 2009, we saw the opportunity to change the architecture of digital signage systems,” says Riegel. “We interviewed hundreds of customers and clearly heard the requirement to help them lower their operating costs while improving their sales. Retail businesses count pennies, so they require a cost effective solution, but it still must be technically capable and reliable.”
Riegel says he was put together with Microsoft’s Microsoft OEM Engineering/Consulting Services group through his distributor, Arrow Electronics, and they started shaping a product that could compete with Linux-based systems on price, offer stability and deal with the operating demands of places like fast-food restaurants.
“We wanted a lean, mean task-specific OS for our ActiVia player, and Windows Embedded allowed for flexible customization resulting in a very small footprint,” states Riegel. “For example, we didn’t need accessories or printer drivers, but we did want rich graphics and HD video driver support. Windows Embedded allowed us to build exactly what we wanted and do more with less.”
Getting this sorted and coming up with a media player that met price and reliability requirements – with direct engineering support from Microsoft – undoubtedly helped close the deal Stratacache won last year with one of the largest QSRs in the US.
Riegel is not allowed to say who (but unless you are a vegan, you’ve ate at one). By the end of this quarter there should be 15,000 of these embedded units installed and driving menu boards.
A nice dance partner for Stratacache, as Microsoft has marketing and PR budgets that most software companies just dream about.
And for Microsoft, which seems to be coming more and more into the sector, Stratacache is a strong partner because of its deep client base and engineering roots.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.