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Microsoft Smartwatch: Nadella's Next Strategy Step?

Microsoft smartwatch rumors heat up again, suggesting a cross-platform strategy that suits CEO Satya Nadella's goals.

Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
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Microsoft could launch a health-oriented smartwatch as soon as this summer, according to a new report. Intriguingly, the device allegedly will be compatible not only with Windows Phone handsets, but also with iPhones and Android smartphones. A flurry of reports last year claimed Microsoft was developing a smartwatch, but until recently, new details had been scant.

Microsoft's smartwatch will include sensors developed by the company's Xbox Kinect team, according to Forbes, which cited "multiple sources with knowledge of [Microsoft's] plans." The sensors will continuously measure the wearer's heart rate and sync with a smartphone app.

[How is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's strategy evolving? Read Microsoft's Nadella: We're in 'Post-Post' PC Era.]

According to the sources, the smartwatch will run two days between charges and resembles Samsung's Gear Fit. Microsoft's version will reportedly differ, however, in that its color touchscreen, roughly "the size of half a stick of gum," will be positioned on the underside of the wearer's wrist. This orientation could give the user more privacy when checking notifications, the article said. The device's release date is reportedly unclear, but it could arrive as soon as this summer.

A Microsoft smartwatch patent, originally filed in 2012, came to light this month. It describes a device with a touch display positioned atop the wearer's wrist, like a traditional watch. The underside of the display includes an optical light sensor to measure various health-related metrics. The document also says the display unit can be removed -- a tactic designed to make the wristband easier to clean.

Microsoft's smartwatch will allegedly resemble Samsung's Gear Fit.
Microsoft's smartwatch will allegedly resemble Samsung's Gear Fit.

In April 2013, The Wall Street Journal, citing supply chain sources, reported that Microsoft was sourcing components for a smartwatch, rumored at the time to feature a 1.5-inch touchscreen. Several publications ran additional reports the following July. The new rumors claimed that smartwatch development had moved from the Xbox team to the Surface team, and that the device would feature a removable wristband, which would be available in several colors.

Microsoft hasn't commented on its alleged smartwatch. That said, several of new CEO Satya Nadella's early appearances have included broad references to wearable devices and the Internet of Things. A December study also revealed some of Microsoft's research with health-related wearable devices, in this case a mood-monitoring smart bra prototype. That device, which imposed a number of inconveniences on wearers, was designed more for its research value than its real-world viability. Even so, Microsoft technology will probably end up on users' wrists sooner than later, whether through hardware or some new iteration of Windows.

Microsoft has said little about its wearable technology strategy, but its research shows the company is interested.
Microsoft has said little about its wearable technology strategy, but its research shows the company is interested.

If Microsoft releases a wearable product this summer, it will join a market just starting to heat up. Sony, Samsung, Google, and several other big names are already active in this space. Startup sensations such as Pebble only make the nascent market more competitive. Samsung recently announced the Samsung Digital Health Initiative, an open hardware and open software platform designed to turn the health data that wearable devices collect into useful insights.

Still, no one has released a breakthrough product, and Microsoft might feel it's the right time to strike. The cross-platform strategy mentioned in the new report would certainly be consistent with Nadella's tactics so far, exemplified by products such as the Office for iPad suite. The strategy also makes practical sense. Windows Phone is still a distant third in the smartphone race, which means that any Windows Phone-smartwatch exclusivity could alienate millions of would-be buyers. If the device works well with all popular smartphones, however, Microsoft could carve out a big presence in a growing market.

Apple is also rumored to be working on the so-called iWatch, which supply-chain analysts expect will launch this year. The company has recently hired several high-profile employees from the fashion, fitness, and medical technology industries, which has only increased anticipation.

IT is turbocharging BYOD, but mobile security practices lag behind the growing risk. Also in the Mobile Security issue of InformationWeek: These seven factors are shaping the future of identity as we move to a digital world (free registration required).

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/23/2014 | 3:40:18 AM
Re: Another flop product?
"I just got KitKat on my NoteII last night, the Mail widget is still there so your S4 should have the widgets as well.  The standard widgets are pretty good and I often have people asking me how I got the email and calendar summaries on my home screen.  Android widgets are one of the coolest features but also probably the least used.  "

SaneIT, thanks for this update and this is very useful.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 8:22:38 AM
Re: Another flop product?
I just got KitKat on my NoteII last night, the Mail widget is still there so your S4 should have the widgets as well.  The standard widgets are pretty good and I often have people asking me how I got the email and calendar summaries on my home screen.  Android widgets are one of the coolest features but also probably the least used.  
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 1:03:49 AM
Re: Another flop product?
"I was using GoLauncher and it' widgets but a recent update on my Samsung phone gave me a similar widget with their launcher.  My home screen is split between a calendar widget and the email widget.  From that home screen I can get a quick look at my work day and if I need to reply to anything I can launch my mail app from there."

saneIT, thanks for this info. I can try with my Samsung S4.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 8:58:39 AM
Re: Another flop product?
I was using GoLauncher and it' widgets but a recent update on my Samsung phone gave me a similar widget with their launcher.  My home screen is split between a calendar widget and the email widget.  From that home screen I can get a quick look at my work day and if I need to reply to anything I can launch my mail app from there.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 12:43:58 AM
Re: Another flop product?
"That SMS idea isn't bad but I don't want yet another inbox to be checking.  I use an application on my Android phone that gives me the Sender, Subject and about 50 characters of the body at a glance.  If I could move that to my wrist it would be a very useful to me."

SaneIT, which app you are using.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/12/2014 | 7:22:37 AM
Re: Another flop product?
That SMS idea isn't bad but I don't want yet another inbox to be checking.  I use an application on my Android phone that gives me the Sender, Subject and about 50 characters of the body at a glance.  If I could move that to my wrist it would be a very useful to me.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/12/2014 | 3:50:38 AM
Re: Another flop product?
" I don't know that this is typical but for me a quick glance at incoming e-mails would save me a lot of frustration.   If I could scan the first few lines with a quick glance at my wrist I would be happy but I don't want to rely on that watch communicating with another device that I'm carrying around too."

saneIT, so you want to know which mail is important and junk by scanning few lines through the pop up mails in your wrist watches. My mobile service provider has a similar service, where they will send first few lines of email as SMS to your device. For this you have to put an agreement with the service provider with a nominal monthly fee. So based on importance you can go for the mail through your other devices.
SaneIT
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50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2014 | 7:28:23 AM
Re: Another flop product?
It is funny that the cellular phone has become more of a text based tool than a voice based on.  I make fewer calls as time goes on but I spend more time checking web based data or sending e-mail on my phone.  I don't know that this is typical but for me a quick glance at incoming e-mails would save me a lot of frustration.   If I could scan the first few lines with a quick glance at my wrist I would be happy but I don't want to rely on that watch communicating with another device that I'm carrying around too.  Maybe if it was a cell phone sized device with no display that never left my pocket or backpack I wouldn't mind since they could make the package much smaller if a display wasn't required. 
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2014 | 3:31:31 AM
Re: Another flop product?
"If a smart watch could let me quickly skim my emails and text messages without needing my phone nearby I'd start wearing a watch because that is what 90% of my smart phone use is and I'd be looking at the watch as a way to replace my smartphone."

SaneIT, I think for most of the peoples sending and receiving emails are more important than making/receiving calls. In that respect Smart watches are useful, but if it has the facility to receive calls, then it's great.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2014 | 3:31:16 AM
Re: Another flop product?
"No doubt it will take a couple steps to get there, but we're already seeing that other companies are one step ahead of Microsoft in the development of usable wearables.  Many of the current generation are falling short because once the newness wears off there is nothing utilitarian that people are using habitually"

SaneIT, we won't be able to say that MS is too late in market for wearable technologies/devices. As of now only limited companies like Samsung, Sony etc are in market with such devices. So MS and Apple can have their own share with unique devices.  
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
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