back to article Microsoft brings back Windows watch after Apple seeks 'flexible' bod

Microsoft is working on a touch-enabled watch despite calling time last year on its earlier efforts. The revelation comes hot on the heels of rumours that rival Apple is working on an iWatch - which were further fuelled by Cupertino's posting of a job ad for a flexible display expert. The Wall St Journal reports that Microsoft …

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Surely at least the Third time?

After all, PocketPC/WinMob were out for years before the iPhone and still did most of the stuff modern phones do. Just not as fast or with a nice UI.

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Re: Surely at least the Third time?

pfft, apple and microsoft trying to make an OS powered watch? Linux did it first.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartwatch

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Re: Surely at least the Third time?

@wowfood

My memory is a bit sketchy about this but wasn't the watch your referencing available in 05? The original MS offering was 04 (SOFTwatch...I think??)

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Re: Surely at least the Third time?

Ahh actually SPOT Watch - close!!

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Re: Surely at least the Third time?

And Palm OS based watches were available before that.

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Re: Surely at least the Third time?

Microsoft should do well - Blue Screens look good on watches!

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Meh

Re: Surely at least the Third time?

There were plenty of nice UIs available for WinMo too. Some of the devices were fast enough at what they did, some were not.

There does seem to be a lot of "It says Apple on it, so it's cool" about Apple's recent, frequent and highly successful recycling of everyone else's failed ideas.

If I had a pound for every watch-with-a-camera-in-it (Casio and others), watch-with-a-phone-in-it (umpty-something Chinese manufacturers) or watch-with-a-camera,-phone-and-everything-else-in-it (LG) I've seen over the years, I'd probably have enough to buy an iWatch now.

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meh....

i stopped wearing watches when mobile phones came about. My reasoning? Why have a timepiece on my wrist when i have one in my phone...

I really don't see the point of a smart watch if i have a smartphone. In the future are people really going to walk around with a computer in their pocket, a computer on their wrist and a computer on their face?(smart specs)

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Re: meh....

Why would you want a watch and a phone? My phone's in my pocket. The time is conveniently displayed on my wrist watch, which I can see even when both hands are busy. If I'm washing-up, I can check the time, without getting wet hands on my phone. Also when I used to swim every morning, it was good to be able to tell the time while in the water, and not only did I not have a waterproof phone, I was a bit lacking in the pockets department as well...

I do agree with your second point. I don't see the future being a proliferation of different personal computers in different formats. The way I suspect things will go, is that you'll have the one personal computer (which will probably be a smartphone), and then various peripheral bits of kit that connect to it. I doubt the old Pocket PC could cope with running a phone, the logical thing to do with a watch now, is to use it as a secondary display for the phone in your pocket. Very useful when having your hands full, or if you want sat-nav when you're walking, or just to control your music with phone in pocket.

That's surely the logical model for techy-glasses as well. One data package, all the controls can be on the phone, with a reasonable sized screen. A tablet might just be a screen and a Bluetooth/WiFi connection to the phone too. Most people could almost get away with dumping their current PC, and having a docking station run off their phone. Modern phones are already powerful enough, and most people's home computing needs are pretty light. That's the way I see things going in 10 years.

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Re: meh....

This what I want one for - as a display and control for my phone so i don't need to take it out of my pocket.

I currently have the phone in my pocket, and then an iPod nano on a wrist strap as if it's a watch. But i'm limited by the content on the iPod and i can't just download a new podcast or a music track or similar until i get home.

Also, bluetooth plug-in adapter for the iPod drains the battery too quickly, so i have to use wired earphones.

with an iWatch type remote interface to the phone, i can have bluetooth earphones connected to the phone in my pocket (and any pocket, not just one where the earphone cord will reach). and i can control the tracks i'm listening to via the watch. happy days.

how did people ever manage in the 80s with Walkmans hanging off their belts? good grief!!! :)

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Re: meh....

I remember when "Skipping" a track you didn't like meant fast forwarding the cassette!

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FAIL

Re: meh....

Select * From Handle - that is truly a geeky answer. I bet you don't have a home phone either ("why have a home phone when I have a mobile?") or clocks on the wall ("why have a clock when I have a mobile?") or a TV ("why have a TV when I can watch everything on a mobile?")?

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Happy

Re: meh....

how did people ever manage in the 80s with Walkmans hanging off their belts? good grief!!! :)

What about the ones with boom-boxes perched on their shoulders? Heavy, noisy, one hand permanently occupied and the 'lovely' stereo sound all going into only one ear. And you had to skip tracks by fast forwarding. Although at least you could put them down when you started break dancing...

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@SQLInjector ;-)

i stopped wearing watches when mobile phones came about.

Same here. Its much easier on the wrist too, not to mention never having to take it off and on again whenever you're working on something where it might get stuck. I also never looked back.

Still, it is one of those classic "if it works for me it doesn't have to work for other people" kind of thing.

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Image

> Why have a timepiece on my wrist when i have one in my phone...

>Still, it is one of those classic "if it works for me it doesn't have to work for other people" kind of thing.

Quite. Personally, I just find it more convenient to look at my wrist than rummage in my pocket for my phone

In a similar vein, I was chatting to my mate who had been charged with conducting a time and motion study in his workplace, but the middle management were sniffy about authorising the purchase of a stop-watch (mainly because they could only use specified suppliers who would charge around £50 per unit). Don't you have a stop-watch on your phone? I asked.

"Yeah, but it doesn't look good if you're walking about the factory floor looking at your phone... it looks like you're faffing around. If you're holding a stop-watch, management can see that you're working".

It's a bit like professional wedding photographers, many of whom would be happy to use a mirrorless camera, if only as a back-up to their DSLR, but they know the clients expect to see some whopping great lumps of Nikon.

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Re: Image

After 35 years of watch-wearing, I'm not sure I can break the habit. Last time the battery ran out, I discovered that every time I talked about time, or when something would happen, I'd glance at the empty place on my wrist where my watch wasn't. It's ingrained habit now. I was abroad once, and my watch broke, so I had to do without one for 2 weeks. Even after all that time, I still couldn't break the habit. I suspect I glance at it a lot, without conscious thought, and that gives me a quite accurate, subconscious time-sense. At least I kept finding myself looking at a bare spot on my wrist, having not consciously decided to.

I've read that da yoof don't wear them now. So maybe the wrist watch will go the way of the pocket watch? It certainly will if everyone goes for Google Glass, or some equivalent. Although, even then, the watch has a jewellery element. Once you've 'invested' £3,000 in a Rolex, you might insist on still wearing it anyway.

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Re: meh....

I believe the majority of them used Velcro ;-)

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Re: Image

It's a bit like professional wedding photographers, many of whom would be happy to use a mirrorless camera, if only as a back-up to their DSLR, but they know the clients expect to see some whopping great lumps of Nikon.

Is that "anecdotal evidence"? If some guy turned up to photograph a wedding with a Casio Exilim I'd guess he was either a rank amateur, a chancer or otherwise undeserving of the huge fee most wedding photographers charge.

I know photographers say the best camera is the one you've got with you, but come on...

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Re: meh....

All correct bar the TV... :P

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Re: meh....

>Is that "anecdotal evidence"? If some guy turned up to photograph a wedding with a Casio Exilim I'd guess he was either a rank amateur, a chancer or otherwise undeserving of the huge fee most wedding photographers charge.

By 'mirrorless', I mean just that: an APS-C or medium-format mirrorless camera, such as made by Sony, Leica or Canon, not a holiday-snaps point-and-shoot as you had assumed. The purpose of the second camera is usually to avoid having to frequently change lenses on the primary (DSLR) camera, and it doesn't necessarily require the functionality provided by a bulky mirror box.

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Coat

Re: meh....

".... a computer on their wrist and a computer on their face?(smart specs)"

I thought face-installed computers were quite old technology, generally available whenever someone ticks off the the BOFH

OK, time to go

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Re: meh....

I guess you don't live near a beach and do swimming etc?

Just because you have no need for something doesn't mean nobody else does. Watches still sell in big numbers.

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Re: meh....

"are people really going to walk around with a computer in their pocket, a computer on their wrist and a computer on their face?"

Yes, thats Progress...

In the olden days REAL multitasking was 3 PCs and a chair with wheels, in the future we won't need the wheely chair.

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Re: meh....

"If I'm washing-up, I can check the time, without getting wet hands on my phone."

Some of us live lives where the only thing of regular time-related importance is getting to work on time (alarm on phone to wake me). Breaks and lunch happen "about then". Finishing work happens "about then". Television programs are handled by my PVR and watched when I feel like it. Nothing else needs me to keep enough of an eye on the time to justify having a watch. As I'm using XP I can glance over and see it is 00:28 right now, but if that was tweaked to read "about half past midnight" then that would be plenty accurate enough.

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My watch is in the bedroom drawer

It's been there for years, since I've had a smart phone that tells the time, wakes me up, has a nice big display and... er... makes phone calls.

Why would I want an electronic trinket on my wrist? If it featured "Holly" from Red Dwarf on the front, I might be tempted. But otherwise, the screen is going to be too piddling small to be any use for me (other than telling the time).

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Re: My watch is in the bedroom drawer

i'm sure with an iWatch you can make phone calls and look like dick tracy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dt2wrr.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My watch is in the bedroom drawer

What about when you get called up by a radio DJ, you're in the middle of nowhere and the question is "What time is it"

Can't hang up and check what time it is, and you can't check your watch because you don't have one. What do you do man WHAT DO YOU DO!

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Re: My watch is in the bedroom drawer

Person A: What do you think of my new toy?

Person B: Nice watch, you look like Dick Tracey

Person A: I look like Dick Tracey?

Person B: No, I said you look like a dick, Tracey.

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Re: My watch is in the bedroom drawer

"Can't hang up and check what time it is, and you can't check your watch because you don't have one. What do you do man WHAT DO YOU DO!"

Firstly, I take some advice from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: DON'T PANIC

Then, I move the phone from my ear and have a look at the top of the screen, where the time is clearly displayed in front of my lazy eyes.

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Re: My watch is in the bedroom drawer

I want the watch from James Bond's Goldeneye video game. Shoots a lazer when twisting the dial. Could really use that for rude customers. Either that or the same sort of shock a cattle prod gives....

"What happened to the customer is always right???"

"Look into my watch for a moment...." KZZZEEERRRRTTT!!! "You were saying?"

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Thing is as tech moves on a wearable "Wrist" computer with something like a holo display may be kind of awesome, however current tech it would just look kind of sad

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With current tech, it might just look like an existing watch:

http://www.gshock.com/watches/Classic/GB6900AA-1

It looks like a normal G-Shock (admittedly not the smallest or most subtle-looking of watches, but far from rare). It is reported to have a two-year battery life based on being connected to a phone for twelve hours a day, and features the following:

- Notification of incoming calls and e-mails via the watch

- Phone Finder function to enable iPhone alarm function from the watch

- Warning vibration when the watch loses its connection to the iPhone

- Time adjustment by synchronizing with time data received from the iPhone

- Built-in tilt sensor to detect movement in the watch, while it is in power-saving mode, to

automatically reconnect to the iPhone

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but the battery life will suck. Even with induction charging it will be a pain.

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>but the battery life will suck. Even with induction charging it will be a pain.

It depends on the feature list. If you want the bare minimum, such as incoming message notification, you should be able to get a couple of years out of it.

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The Pebble watch has minimal features and only lasts a week. It also adds drain to your phone battery. Mostly from keeping the Bluetooth connection alive at both ends.

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>The Pebble watch has minimal features and only lasts a week. It also adds drain to your phone battery. Mostly from keeping the Bluetooth connection alive at both ends.

There is a more suitable Bluetooth protocol, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy, but it isn't currently support by Android- so it doesn't make sense for the Pebble watch to use it either.

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Actually, with respect to the gist of this article, there a couple of MS OS devices that do support Bluetooth Low Energy:

Nokia Lumia 820 and 920

Microsoft Surface Pro

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Pebble

Had mine for a couple of weeks. Charged it twice. I have found switching it off at night (when i cant use it) does squeeze out more life (20 seconds to switch off, 2 to switch back on as does having a watch face with no second hand on it.

Get about 20+ email notifications through it a day, plus phone calls and text messages. Screen is great. It's not so big that it screams "look at my huge watch" but not so small you cant read it.

Oh, and i can play snake on it

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@Danny 14

"but the battery life will suck. Even with induction charging it will be a pain."

I have this mental image of an induction charger based on a cattle prod

It's withdrawal symptoms from too few BOFH episodes

Really time to go; hat, coat, outahere!

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Microsoft stop trying to be Apple and come up with something original. Microsoft obviously felt a 'smart watch' would go no where and dropped the idea but as soon as Apple are rumoured to be releasing one Microsoft suddenly resurrect it.

Note to Microsoft, people aren't particularly taking to the Surface and Windows phone, what in gods name do you think they will want windows on a watch!!!

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Microsoft stop trying to be Apple and come up with something original.

mark12, stop being an idiot and actually read the fucking article.

Apple, original? Maybe when Satan snowboards to work.

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You've put too much faith in the Reg article, Mark 1 2.... whilst they said MS were acting 'hot on the heels' of an Apple rumour, it could also be said they are acting in the wake of their own previous efforts, as well as more recent real products and crowd-sourced interest by Sony, Samsung, Pebble and I'm Watch.

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Anonymous Coward

"Note to Microsoft, people aren't particularly taking to the Surface and Windows phone"

For Surface I havnt seen any sales figures, but Windows Phone market share is growing rapidly. Selling nearly 6 times as many devices as Blackberry in the US for instance....

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Anonymous Coward

No thanks.

I love my titanium Seiko. Besides I don't want to be walking around looking like Dick Tracy.

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Meh

I've never worn a watch.

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Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

A smart watch may prove to be a slightly more convenient way to read (but not replay to) a text message, or jump tracks, or get a weather forecast, or see a few lines of news headline, or tell you how long you've been jogging.

On the flip side, a smart watch is going to be expensive, require frequent charging, be crippled by a display that turns off to conserve power, and most likely tied to a particular phone OS or platform to some degree.

I'm not at all convinced of the merits of these devices at this time. If someone produces a smart watch which runs at least a month between charges or better yet recharges itself, and is platform agnostic I think I would be more favourable to the concept. Until then, a bog standard watch costing from £10 up and lasting 5 years on a battery is just fine.

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Re: Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

A "smart" watch doesn't have to be be all that smart. Really, it's just a remote display/controller, possibly with accelerometer/gyro/pedometer functions for added value.

The phone does all the heavy lifting.

I'm interested, but the beautiful brass Fossil on my wrist is going nowhere until there's something comparable.

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Re: Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

Replying is easy. You can track finger "presses" or gestures from the wrist band and normal resistance or vibration tracking. Quite a few prototypes already do. That way, you either use your palm as the keypad (or a suitable surface) and remember the keypad layout, or you use gestures and remember the gestures (sign language based?).

Will they use such tech though? No. :(

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Re: Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

It's hard enough to reply on a phone with a large screen. I very much doubt it would reach anywhere close to the accuracy necessary for what you suggest to be tolerable.

More likely you'd be fumbling around with some cut down letter spinner on the screen.

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Re: Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

@DrXym

Casio already sell a Bluetooth watch with a two year battery life. Okay, the features are limited (though actually useful), but there is always going to be a trade-off against battery life.

You are right in your suspicions that it might be tied to one platform - this Casio watch only works with Apple iOS stuff. However, that is not Casio's fault, because "At the time of writing, there is currently no support for [Bluetooth Low Energy] LE in the Android OS[51][52], although some devices (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1[53]) have compatible hardware." (Wikipedia)

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