Report claims Microsoft working on smartwatches


Microsoft released smartwatches in 2003 through its "smart personal objects technology" platform.

One of the next major personal computing segments is expected to be watches, as companies such as Apple and Google are said to be working on smartwatches that could release within the next year. According to a new report, Microsoft is also looking to develop a smartwatch of its own.

The Wall Street Journal reports Microsoft has asked Asian suppliers to ship it components that could be used in the device (such as 1.5-inch touchscreens), though it's not known if the requests are merely being made for prototyping purposes. An unnamed supply executive who spoke to The Journal said he met with Microsoft research and development representatives at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

If the report is accurate, it wouldn't be the first time Microsoft has developed a smartwatch. In 2003, Microsoft announced it would create software for "smart personal objects technology" watches through partnerships with Fossil and other companies. Those watches were designed to provide users with information such as weather updates, news, stock quotes and personal messages. The technology never took off, however, and development for the platform was halted in 2008. Other household devices were also designed to make use of the platform.

Microsoft has been widely criticized for being late to the game with its relatively new Windows Phone operating system for smartphones as well as its recent push in the tablet sector with Windows RT and Windows 8 – specifically with its own Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. If the company is indeed working on a smartwatch, it would likely be launching the device within a similar time frame as competitors.

Source: The Wall Street Journal via CNET | Image via Microsoft

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Until Microsoft fixes the Windows-8 problems, and they are big ones. Why are they spending/wasting valuable resources on peripheral projects? One would think Microsoft would get their core business, i.e., PC/desktop OS, solid first. Then, go out on various tangents.

I would be happy if in the meantime they could add to WP8 the ability to work with my heart rate monitor. I would also be interested in a smart watch that, using GPS, could monitor distance, speed, time of exercise etc. and transfer the data to Excel.
As a regular watch my Rolex will keep ruling for a long, long time.

You can download the HealthVault app. It doesn't auto-record data from devices, but it can be handy for storing health information like that from a heart rate monitor.

Apple should wait till all these products are close to release and quickly cancel their own iWatch and tell world and dog that it's really impractical, not stylish, generally a stupid idea nobody would ever want. And then laugh off their asses rolling on the floor while copycats struggle selling their worthless shyte.

iWatch rumors were the first. And right then everybody else suddenly remembered they had such ideas, but didn't have the faintest clue how to market them.

Bootnote: no, I am not Apple apologist at all. I dislike Apple severely.

Phouchg said,
Apple should wait till all these products are close to release and quickly cancel their own iWatch and tell world and dog that it's really impractical, not stylish, generally a stupid idea nobody would ever want. And then laugh off their asses rolling on the floor while copycats struggle selling their worthless shyte.

iWatch rumors were the first. And right then everybody else suddenly remembered they had such ideas, but didn't have the faintest clue how to market them.

Bootnote: no, I am not Apple apologist at all. I dislike Apple severely.

Pebble watch had a great response. Don't expect that to happen especially when it has a little Apple logo on it.

Well, pretty much every little sh... thing on Kickstarter has a great response, because "indie" and "fsck the innovation inhibiting evil corporations".

Quite in the contrary - I expect Apple could (and probably will) sell Pebble for $200 at the very least instead and rake some more billions for their legal department's war chest.

68k said,
If it doesn't self-charge, I'm not interested. Yes, you can get mechanical watches that self wind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_watch A small solar panel would be a good idea in this case.

Silliest comment ever. A small solar panel really. It's not a watch. It will do a lot more. Solar panel next to a bigger display for the watch is not practical. At least it isn't yet.

I'm lost without my watch!

Despite having clocks on the computer at work and on my phone etc I still wear mine every day

dead.cell said,
bluetooth earpieces...

"Can never be too far away from the phone. Just in case Henry Kissinger calls. And they've got Dalai Lama on call waiting."
- George

Late? How can Microsoft be late? They're the only company that has a fully-functioning embedded OS, Windows 8 Embedded. Android, is completely useless for this type of function since its Java roots make it too slow and cumbersome while Apple will need to severely scale-back iOS to work on this scale. And now Microsoft has W8Embedded working on both Intel and ARM architectures. Sounds to me like it's the other guys who are late.

Of course, Google just copy everything Apple does anyway, so they're late by definition.

BTW, Microsoft had a Smartwatch project with several Japanese companies as far back as 1985. It used AM radio sideband to deliver news, stock prices and sports.

There are plenty of people who do still wear watches - presumably the market for them wouldn't be so buoyant if people didn't. And I guess if it was a fashionable accessory and provided a useful purpose such as quick glance at who's calling you, etc etc then I could see them being popular.

I still much prefer a quick glance at my wrist to know the time than to have to dig my phone out of the pocket!

the only time I wear a watch is when I go sailing or skydiving, and that is a specific watch that shows me barometric information and has start timers for regattas. The screen of a watch is way to small for me to ever consider a "smart watch" as more than a toy.

I don't think a smart watch needs to be limited to a small screen. As I indicated in my post, it could be a wider rectangle if it is flat enough.

I also haven't worn a watch in a decade...

... but I think the idea for a smart watch is much better than smart glasses (with current technology). Google has proven even before launch that the Glass concept has a lot of issues to iron out, but a device attached to the wrist that can be easily referenced from feeds, weather, communication, etc would be a very handy medium between having to dig out a smart phone and having a display projected in front of you all the time that you have to talk out loud to in order to interact and, oh, also takes video of everything so no one likes you anymore.

So, as someone who is happily and consciously watchless, I am quite interested in where the companies will take the smart watch concept to. If it is a thin, light, maybe even flexible OLED screen strapped to the arm, a very natural and convenient place to look but also not invasive, it would probably be pretty awesome to use to keep up. Smart phones are nice, but handling them for minor tasks is a bit tiring.

Imagine wondering what the weather forecast is... tap a live tile on your watch and it pops up, great, close it back up, tap to see the time and appointments or a bus schedule, especially if it uses location information to be dynamic about it. Like, check time until the next subway or bus leaves. Maybe even be able to snap quick pictures without holding anything.

The main drawback would be only having one hand use and it being covered by long sleeve shirts and jackets.

"Gadget" being a better word than toy - seeing as it takes the functional aspect of a watch (telling the time) and adds features.

Imagine Apple was just trolling everyone to try and release smart watches first. If I wanted to wear a watch, it would be a fashion piece and a nice one a that. Since I'm not about to spend that kind of money, I'll pass on anything else.

Shadowzz said,
Except that even as in this article, Microsoft has been working on them for over a decade.

Development was halted in 2008. Why was it picked up for a new product now?

With all these companies trying to get on the train, I think that one thing's for sure -- the product isn't strong enough to let Apple, Google, Microsoft all have sucessful releases. Sounds like this is shaping up to become an oversatured market just a gimmick.

The problem as I see it is that a smartphone can do what a watch can, but more (thanks to more room for technology). And it's right there in your pocket. I stopped using watches _because_ of smartphones, so I'm not going back as I already know that I no longer need them. I made that choice a decade ago. The convenience of a watch to look at is simply not good enough for me to mess around with a new device, even if it can show the weather and the latest photo posted to Instagram...

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 15 2013, 7:43am :

Shadowzz said,
Except that even as in this article, Microsoft has been working on them for over a decade.

Yup. It takes that long for them to work on something decent (which has yet to be determined).

Windows 8 took six years in the making. They should have taken 4 more years to release it.

Major Plonquer said,
"Development was halted in 2008. Why was it picked up for a new product now?"

Curved screen technology.

Flexible curved screen technology.

Same. I've not worn a watch in so many years. Theres no point in them any more, everyone has a smartphone already which will be far more useful.

I'm sure hipsters kids will buy them though. Especially if it has an Apple logo.

What's a fancy place? And that requires a watch?
Isn't a good smart phone fancy enough?
I f you're at some fancy place, you wouldn't be wearing a t-shirt, you'd most likely be wearing a dress shirt, and a suit jacket, so how would this special watch be seen?

First where did I say they require a watch? I was talking about art shows or theater visits. It might be just me but I'd rather have a look at my watch in those places than pull out my phone just for that. Yes, of course most of the time the watch would be hidden by a long sleeved shirt, jacket or what ever but that's not really the point, if you want to show off your Rolex wear it on the shirt I still wouldn't care but I would care when someone starts to show off with some cheap plastic crap "watch", checking the weather or facebook notifications, in one of those places or events, it's not appropriate if you ask me.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
Same. I've not worn a watch in so many years. Theres no point in them any more, everyone has a smartphone already which will be far more useful.

I realize I'm in the minority as I don't carry a phone with me, smart or otherwise. That being said, that doesn't mean I'm interested in a so-called smartwatch either, even though you'd think it would some appeal to someone who doesn't carry a phone.

Ever since getting a CELL PHONE I haven't had a watch. Now that I have a Smartphone why in hell would I want to dumb myself down with a smartwatch with a 1-inch by 1-inch screen.

Yes, because everyone is you... /s

I guess you aren't aware that watches have a longer battery life? Or watches are often built to be more rugged for outdoor uses? Or that high-class watches can integrate many tools (like a thermometer, compass, altimeter, heart rate, etc.) that practically very few smartphones can even offer one or a couple of these features. Or what about their expected waterproof up to a certain depth? I'm pretty sure scuba divers don't depend on a bulky wrapped up smartphone.

I don't think everyone is you, and I'm pretty sure your needs are different from others. I guess in your world, wristwatches are just for hipsters, whereas the real world, watches are for anyone.

Will it allow me to boot to the desktop or will I be stuck with a damn Start Screen!?!?!

/s

Seriously, I haven't worn a watch in over 20 years. If this really is "one of the next major personal computing segments", I guess I'll take a pass.

I don't really know yet...SPOT was kind of fun back then but it just wasn't the right time for it.
It could be very cool now if it's basically a Windows Phone 8 (with phone functionality) and the screen is a square format with 4 medium live tiles (up to 16 small or 2 large e.g.) it could be excellent for many smaller apps that give you all kinds of info and a large one for say, calendar appointments.
Problem would be that current applications aren't made for the screen format (and resolution) and thus would require recompiles for them to work on the watch (unless there's some kind of scaler built in).
Could be very expensive if they go with kinetic recharging though (is that even feasible?)...

Edited by Thief000, Apr 15 2013, 9:20am :

COKid said,
Will it allow me to boot to the desktop or will I be stuck with a damn Start Screen!?!?!

/s

Seriously, I haven't worn a watch in over 20 years. If this really is "one of the next major personal computing segments", I guess I'll take a pass.

I dont' wear a watch either. But, if I could get the functionality out of a small piece of tech on my wrist that would be valuable then I think that's compelling.

If I could get the current weather, time, and use it as a phone then I would like it. With speech recognition picking up you could use your watch for many useful things. If it just extends off of the phone as a bluetooth display... it could still be useful. Reducing the number of times you have to pull your phone out of your pocket, or even needing to carry your phone could be nice.