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Report: Microsoft’s Smartwatch to Come Before Year’s End

Daniel Bean
·Assistant Editor
Diagram from Microsoft's smartwatch patent filing
Diagram from Microsoft's smartwatch patent filing

Microsoft is no doubt busy putting the finishing touches on an update to Windows 10, its bread-and-butter product, set for a release next year. But this doesn’t mean the folks in Redmond won’t have a side project or two to show us before then.

A recent report from Forbes says the company’s rumored smartwatch could launch before the end of 2014. It’s expected to be marketed toward fitness tracking, with heart-rate monitoring functionality and a battery that will last for “more than two days.” If true, that would be a day better than most smartwatches with LCD displays.

Generally, a smartwatch acts as a second display for your smartphone that you wear on your wrist. Depending on the device, the smartwatch connects to your phone via Bluetooth to show notifications from your phone and let you complete various tasks from your wrist. Other smartwatches can also track your steps and read your heart rate.

A 2012 patent filed by Microsoft describes a “wearable personal information system,” including sketches like the one above. Note that patent filings do not necessarily indicate that a product will go live.

Read: Smartwatches Through History

Microsoft’s watch would come out of the gate right behind Google’s deep, multi-device dive into smartwatches, and just before Apple gets its Apple Watch on store shelves. Many device makers, including LG and Samsung, have already released their smartwatches; Apple has said that its watches will be available in early 2015.

The possible Windows smartwatch, according to Forbes, will apparently be able to sync with not only Windows Phone, but also iPhone and Android devices.

That could set it apart from the crowd in terms of compatibility. As it stands, Android Wear watches offer syncing only to Android phones and tablets, and, likewise, the Apple Watch will work only with iPhones.

Of course, multi-platform wouldn’t be a new play for Microsoft. Its Office software has been available on Mac, iOS, and Chrome for some time. And just this month, the company even released a OneNote Android Wear smartwatch app.

Timex Datalink watch
Timex Datalink watch

Timex Datalink, co-developed by Microsoft. (Wikimedia)

And watches aren’t necessarily a new field for the company, either. Though its first collaboration with Timex, 1994’s Datalink Model 150, wasn’t a smartwatch project by today’s standards, the timepiece was considered the first wristwatch capable of downloading information from a computer. Microsoft’s Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT), launched in 2004, has also been baked into watches made by Fossil, Suunto, Tissot, and Swatch.

The new Forbes report about Microsoft’s upcoming, full-fledged smartwatch didn’t contain any information on what it might be called, but whether it’s the ZuneWrist or the Xwatch One, if all indications are correct, it should be out in time for you to gift one to your friends or family this holiday season.

Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me something funny? Email me at danbean@yahoo-inc.com.