Is Microsoft Really Building a Smartwatch?

By: Radu Tyrsina
3 minute read

Microsoft has been a little too late to the tablet party, even if it actually was the first company to introduce a tablet. And we can’t say that it fares quite well in smartphones, either. But could Redmond amaze us all with a smartwatch?
microsoft smartwatch
It’s probably not your first time when you hear that Microsoft could be planning to release a smartwatch, after the company has even showcased its own smartwatch technology back in 2004. But, at the moment, the market wasn’t ready for such a device as it took around 8 hours for the wearables market to become consistent. A recently revealed patent filling suggests that Microsoft is getting closer to actually bringing their fisrt smartwatch to the market. The patent application was filed in October 2012 and was published this week, so Microsoft could be in an advanced development stage of the new device, if there is one.

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The patent filing from USPTO website doesn’t contain too many details, mentioning that the smartwatch will be detachable from the wristband and will come with support for a charging dock. It’s expected to work as a fitness tracking device, with music player and messaging functions:

A personal information system is provided. The system may include a portable information device having a housing including a top surface defined at least partially by a display, a bottom surface configured with a central region in which an optical sensor, electrical connector, and data connector are positioned, the housing enclosing an internal volume in which a processor is provided, the top surface and bottom surface being coupled by a perimeter side edge extending there between, and a mounting structure formed at least partially around the perimeter side edge of the housing. The system may further include a frame, which may be connected to a band, the frame surrounding a void and configured to receive the mounting structure, the frame and mounting structure being releasably securable via a tongue and groove connection. The system may further comprise a dock to which the information device may be connected.

But how real is a ‘Windows smartwatch’?

We’ve seen Microsoft announce at the Build 2014 event that it will come up with a Windows version aimed at smaller tablets and smartphones and also at Internet of Things devices. So, in that matter, Microsoft has the software ready, but I’m not sure if it can be “as sexy” as, for example, a stripped down version of iOS will look in an upcoming iWatch. And I don’t see Microsoft come up with a software that will have a design language and user interface too different from its current products.

microsoft smartwatch 2014

But if the growth of wearable devices is for real, then Microsoft doesn’t afford to be late to the party of wearables, so there are big chances for us to see the smartwatch getting launched. And, let’s admit that “Surface smartwatch” name does sound pretty cool. Samsung, Google are already the biggest names when it comes to smartwatch devies, not to mention Sony, Pebble and others; but if Apple decides to release the iWatch, then Microsoft will be missing out a lot.

Rumor even has it that the project is believed to be headed up by former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who currently runs Microsoft’s Devices division. Some already suggest that Microsoft has reportedly asked Asian suppliers to ship 1.5in displays for a potential watch-style device. A smartwatch release isn’t necessary for Microsoft for financial gains, but it’s much needed in order to regain the coolness factor, since Windows 8 and the Surface line of tablets have been regarded as flops by some.

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