Microsoft hopes to boost the smartcard market in Europe and the US by making it easier for software developers to build applications to run on the cards.
Microsoft has developed a small footprint version of Visual Basic that runs on smartcards, enabling developers to create applications on a PC and easily port them to smartcards.
The 'Smart Cards for Windows' initiative, announced yesterday at the Windows CE Developers Conference in Denver, Colorado, will enter beta testing later this summer.
"Smart cards have had a lot of success in Europe, but have not really taken off in the US," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's business productivity group. "As we move forward and it becomes easier to build applications on smartcards, it is possible to open up a wide variety of market places."
"We've looked at the Visual Basic language and services and taken the form factor to run on a small form factor device. The key is having a common development environment," he said.
Developers would create applications using Visual Basic on the PC and conduct the majority of bug fixing and testing on the PC, Muglia explained. The application would then be loaded onto the smartcard for final testing.
An application demonstrated by Muglia showed a user's expense profile being loaded onto a smart card. When the user made an expense request in Excel that was higher than the limit on the smart card, the request was denied.
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