Report: Microsoft is about to jump into the smartwatch fray

smartwatches at computex
Credit: Michael Kan

Apple’s got a smartwatch. A number of Google’s Android hardware partners have smartwatches too. Now Microsoft wants a piece of the action, if a new report is any indication.

According to Forbes, Microsoft plans to release a smartwatch of its own “within weeks.” Forbes goes on to say that the smartwatch “will passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms,” and that it would be able to go two days between charges. That would be an improvement over many current smartwatches, which often need to be charged nightly.

The story behind the story: A smartwatch that works with multiple mobile platforms would fit in with Microsoft’s new focus under CEO Satya Nadella. Throughout his tenure, Nadella has put less emphasis on Windows (even though it is still a very important product line for the company), and more on providing productivity tools for users of all platforms.

Also, Windows Phone makes up a small fraction of the smartphone universe, so opening up to other smartphone platforms makes good business sense, too.

Not Microsoft’s first shot at a watch

If Microsoft is indeed working on a smartwatch, it would represent the company’s second try at the concept. In 2004, Microsoft teamed up with watchmakers like Fossil and Swatch to produce smartwatches that used the company’s SPOT technology.

These watches served up information like weather forecasts, news headlines, sports scores, and more from Microsoft’s MSN Direct service, which fed information to the SPOT watches over an FM radio signal.

The SPOT watches never really caught on, though, and were dead by 2008. You could probably make the case that Microsoft was too far ahead of its time before, but only time will tell whether the second time will be the charm.

This story, "Report: Microsoft is about to jump into the smartwatch fray" was originally published by TechHive.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.