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back to article Microsoft's next device could be a Surface Watch

Rumors that Microsoft may be looking to jump on the wearable computing bandwagon are gaining steam, with sources claiming that Redmond's Surface group is testing a smartwatch based on Windows 8. Reports that Microsoft is working on digital watch designs first emerged in April, with The Wall Street Journal claiming that the …

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Anonymous Coward

Same old weasel words

"Reports that Microsoft is [....]"

"The current prototypes are reportedly [....]"

"Details on what they look like are scant [....]"

"[...] sources say [...]"

"Other claims include [....]"

Are there any other ways in which the absence of any real, substantive sources could be hidden?

Historically, this is a pattern for Microsoft: if somebody else seems to have found The Next Big Thing, Microsoft FUDs that their version will be cooler, faster, more wonderful in every way (other than that whole pesky "theirs is shipping now and ours doesn't even exist" thing), hoping to delay everybody from buying today what Microsoft has yet to make ready.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Same old weasel words

Microsoft have never been about being first to the market, they've been about being in the market, affordable and good enough for most.

That said they were in the tablet market and the watch market before Apple, possibly before anyone else.

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"they've been about being in the market"

Yeah? For how long are they going to be in the market?

4 generations of tablets (including UMPC) predate the current generation. All complete flops.

Zune.

Fossil Watch.

All the Windows CE based stuff.

Kin phone.

Win8 RT.

Microsoft TV.

The only full end-to-end product that MS have dabbled with that has had any serious market uptake has been XBox.

... and now you really expect they'll get a new watch right?

Knowing MS's ability to try force inappropriate UI down the customers' throats I'm predicting the MS watch will have a mouse.

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Re: "they've been about being in the market"

Zune = iPod. Tablets = iPad. Fossil Watch = iPod nano (near as damnit). Kin phone = iPhone. Microsoft TV = Apple TV.

To say that any of the above ideas were "flops" is inaccurate - in fact, in different incarnations, the ideas you mentioned have all been a commercial success. The important factor here is time; these ideas were ahead of their time when Microsoft built them. The only reason that Apple succeeded with them is because they were more tuned to market trends of the time.

The only reason I don't mention Windows CE above is because Windows CE is more of an industrial embedded solution than a consumer one.

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Facepalm

Re: "they've been about being in the market"

What??? They actually released a product called the "Kin phone"?

I mean I've been known to use phrases such as "'Kin Windows, why the 'kin hell have you done that you 'kin gitbastard" in the past, but surely to actually name the product in those terms is asking for disaster.

Unbelievable.

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Holmes

Re: "they've been about being in the market"

A mouse is dumb (wouldn't stop em trying tho..)

But a touchpad built in to the clasp on the underside of the strap wrist might work. instead of a tiny tiny touch screen you'd obliterate with the average digit

Dear MS\Apple\World+Dog if you haven't done that already I claim prior art and I'm not a patent troll...

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WTF?

Re: "they've been about being in the market"

I'm sure they'll be lining up outside the Microsoft stores for an opportunity to run Office on their wrists.

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Re: "they've been about being in the market"

Nowhere did I say the ideas were flops, just that the products were flops. This has, in general, been down to Microsoft's execution rather than the base idea itself being wrong.

Microsoft sure did not listen to the customers or the market place. They were trying to force start buttons onto phones and having graphical phones without touch screens etc. Complete crap execution.

MS finally stopped trying to push the start button in mobile space with Kin. Kin started the whole tiles interface. It is somewhat ironic that the tiles interface was then forced all the way back onto PCs.

Windows CE is a commercial offering and not just industrial. The original Windows CE devices were sold as such (eg. the ipaqs). I did quite a bit of OS work (drivers etc) with various versions of WinCE from 1.1 to 7.

Microsoft then built profiles on top of Windows CE to try wedge Windows CE into various spaces: Windows CE or Automotive, Windows CE for phones...). There has been some uptake of Windows CE in embedded space, but almost all those are at least contemplating bailing out and switching to Android or such because MS is not doing much to keep the current customers happy.

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FAIL

Re: "they've been about being in the market"

sure it will have a mouse, but will it have a START button?

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Silver badge

Do people really want a smart watch?

I'm aware of the precedent — people completely failed to sell any tablet computers for more than a decade before that market really opened up — but the Sony smart watches are mature, inexpensive at around $100, and they work with Android phones so they do email alerts, Twitter, Facebook, whatever else your phone does. Yet nobody is buying them.

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Silver badge

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

I don't think this will be the 'next big thing' by any means, no

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Paris Hilton

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

I don’t think so. I think this is a from-beyond-the-grave prank from Mr Jobs. All the apple wanna-bees are stumbling to show investors they won’t be caught flat footed, and the press are frothing over missed release schedules for a non-existant product. It makes for a merry circus.

paris: i watch(ed) her.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

I don't see the attraction but then it was questioned whether touch-screen phones and tablets were really worthwhile, and look how that turned out. If someone can crack a compelling product, maybe we'll all have to eat our words.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

Sony already sells one. Has anybody ever bought it? Nope.

The hysteria seems to have started with the watch-sized iPod, for which various third began making bands. Apple promptly killed that market by discontinuing the model, because Apple. I'm sure the plan was to keep that slice of profit for themselves, which makes their failure to execute all the sweeter.

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Go

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

I want one. For me the killer feature will be using it to pay for small transactions with RFID. This requires a watch with RFID, secure enough to use for money, plus a nation-wide infrastructure of vendors accepting such payments, and the apps and agreements in-place for the watch. Many of the current smart watches don't have RFID at all. Sony's does, but it's not much use to me without the trusted apps and infrastructure.

Other necessary features include long battery life, and/or wireless charging; and things like unlocking my phone automatically when it is within inches of the watch, and sounding an alarm if it gets more than a few feet away.

It'll come. It's just not here yet, and until it is, smart watches will only sell to a few early adopters.

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Hate to be THAT Star Trek nerd, but the transparent aluminum was actually used for the giant fish tanks on the Klingon ship for the whales.

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You beat me to it by milliseconds. You win the title of fastest nerd.

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Alien

Wrongo boyo

I hate to be THAT Star Trek nerd, BUT it was the formula for transparent aluminium (from Scotty to the materials scientist and company owner) which PAID for huge sections of normal acrylic "from stock", and it was the acrylic that was used to build the whale tanks, not the transparent aluminium.

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Re: Wrongo boyo

FutureShock999 is our winner!

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Meh

Re: Wrongo boyo

It was a film. None of it happened... There was no whales in a fishtank on a spaceship...

Sorry to be the one that told you.

Anyway an MS watch will need AV.

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Pint

Re: Wrongo boyo

FutureShock999 is right of course, but transparent aluminium is also used in the viewports of the Enterprise-D so TFA was right (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Transparent_aluminum). Thank you!

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There be whales in here!

I wonder if the watch was designed on a Mac II by a Canadian with a questionable Scottish accent.

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Alien

"Hello computer...?"

"A keyboard. How quaint."

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Anonymous Coward

Devices with Bluetooth LE hardware:

HTC One, One X+, Droid DNA[30]

Samsung Galaxy SIII, Galaxy S4,[35] Note II [36]

Apple's iPhone 4S,[31] iPhone 5, iPad (3rd gen & 4th gen),[32] iPad Mini[33] and others

Nokia Lumia 820 and 920[34]

Microsoft Surface Pro

The point being that Android has only supported it since the last JB update.

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Anonymous Coward

"Other claims include that Microsoft's smartwatches may ship with as much as 6GB of storage"

So after formatting and installing Windows, there will be no space free then? RT took 1/3 of the space on the 32GB version of the Surface tablet.

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Memories........

Current time till 5pm.... 23 seconds.... 25 seconds.... 1 minute 14 seconds.... 18 hours 51 minutes..... 2 days 16 hours........

Alarms will be fun.

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Re: Memories........

Alarms are fine - you can set the time that it reboots to install updates everyday

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Anonymous Coward

I think the Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy nailed this one years ago

Earth's population are "so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

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Bronze badge

"Surface Watch - Loch Ness Edition"

Right there, I claimed it first...

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Bronze badge

"Year of the Smartwatch"

I'm afraid 2014 is going to be the "Year of the Smartwatch" as much as 2013 is shaping up to be the "Year of the Surface" or the "Year of the Windows 8" etc.

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Stylaphone time

I think Microsoft have a clear advantage here in having the most stylus friendly OS ready to go. The difficult bit will be finding somewhere to stow the stylus... perhaps next to the magnifying glass needed to actually read WinCE menu's on a screen that small ;)

On a more serious note, there's a good reason all existing 'Smartwatches' are really only semi-smart, your finger covers 1/3 of the screen and fitting more than 6 usable touch controls is a challenge. Probably one of the 'hard engineering problems' Apple are struggling with, how to re-engineer users fingers.

One thing seems certain, we're several generations of power reduction+battery improvement and years away from a genuinely smart watch. Another hard engineering problem, changing the meaning of 'smart'?

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Devil

Re: Stylaphone time

> Probably one of the 'hard engineering problems' Apple are struggling with, how to re-engineer users fingers.

Haven't they already solved that problem?

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I got a new watch for my birthday

I'm really pleased, it is really advanced, it has a hour hand and a minute hand and a second hand.

It is really smart too, I'm quite pleased when someone notices it.

Additionally it doesn't need charging and doesn't weigh much at all and it didn't cost that much.

Maybe they need to stop doing 'hard' engineering and do useful engineering instead.... just a thought

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Joke

Re: I got a new watch for my birthday

A watch used primarily to tell the time?

Come on, you'll be telling us next of a phone used primarily to talk to people who are in another place ;)

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For those of us with a Pebble, 2013 is already the year of the Smart Watch.

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Alert

I wonder if it will be an improvement over Sinclair's Black Watch.

Which didn't work but looked good.

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Happy

Sinclair's Black Watch.

Will probably sell more than the MS one in total

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Touchscreen

So they think a 1.5" touchscreen may be a workable idea?

I wonder precisely how many live tiles they would try to fit into that area? And will it come with a sharpener or file to make the wearer's fingers pointed enough to be able to tap them? It's bad enough on an 7" screen sometimes unless you partake of a stylus or similar prodder.

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Pint

Re: Touchscreen

I wonder precisely how many live tiles they would try to fit into that area?

I find this interesting, too. And my best guess would be "one".

Combine it with swipes to change to tile and a watchface +notification icons lock screen... who knows? If they were to throw in a decent pedometer and HR monitor, it could even be a useful device.

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Re: Touchscreen

If it uploads that info to the marketing department, along with location data and a recording of every word the wearer says, it might even be profitable.

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Re: Touchscreen

That might not be necessary. If it ran with Kinect exercise programs - I understand they're excellent - or integrated with RunKeeper or something similar, it could probably make money.

I don't imagine that FitBit are a charitable organisation.

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It may be a go-er....

....it may not. But whatever happens, it'll be strong enough to contain tonnes of water and a couple of humpedback whales....

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JDX
Gold badge

It would be amusing if MS entered this market before Apple et al. Yes I know watches have been done but tablets had been done before iPad... I mean a non-clunky slick product.

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Anonymous Coward

there's just a little niggle, MS

PEOPLE. DON'T. WEAR. WATCHES.

but I guess this minor issue is irrelevant in the MS-world, as always ;)

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FAIL

Re: there's just a little niggle, MS

You are not everyone, AC. I wear a watch. I like my watch. It's by Fossil and it's a beautiful old fashioned analogue face bound in brass.

People wear watches. You don't but nobody cares about you.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: there's just a little niggle, MS

I don't wear a watch but people do wear watches. Most of them in fact.

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WTF?

Re: there's just a little niggle, MS

@ AC

You might not wear one, but a quick glance around the office, and I'd say you're in the minority.

Initial look shows about a 4 to 1 ratio of wearers to none wearers around here.

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Anonymous Coward

great idea

think about all the fun you'll have with this 1.5 inch screen, like... browsing... likeing... twatting...clicking on that ad... watching a HD movie... playing alarm melodies on the tube... Did somebody mention the new, smiley, winkey, BSD? ;) I bet you did, you... infidels!

And then, productivity aspect can't be missed either, excel, photoshop, you name it - all will all run on your computer-watch from Microsoft, yeah, baby!

...

it might even tell you what time it is!

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Re: great idea

I'm guessing you were also one of the people that said "Tablets, what's the point in one of them?".

Just because you don't want to use one, or don't have the imagination to work out what could be useful on them, doesn't mean other people have that same limited outlook.

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