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Report: Microsoft nearing release of OS-agnostic, heart rate-monitoring smartwatch

Report: Microsoft nearing release of OS-agnostic, heart rate-monitoring smartwatch

Because if Samsung, Google and Apple are going to have smartwatch platforms, then Microsoft must have one too.

Oh, come on. Of course Microsoft is at least considering the release of a smartwatch. Any megabrand tech company would be fiscally negligent if it didn't invest R&D, if only a little bit, in the wearables space.

But now a Thursday Forbes report tells us that Microsoft is getting very close to a retail-ready smartwatch, quoting unnamed sources with intriguing specificity.

The device would work with not just Windows Phone handsets, but also Android and iOS phones--a positive step toward inclusiveness that Samsung should consider. The wearable would also offer continuous, 24/7 heart-rate tracking (nice); two days of battery life (not so nice); and superior sensor accuracy thanks to optical engineering from Microsoft's Kinect team (huzzah).

The Forbes report doesn't include any tantalizing spy shots or artist renderings, but notes the smartwatch will resemble Samsung's Gear Fit and feature a "full-color touchscreen about the size of a half a stick of gum." And the watch body will be positioned on the inside of users' wrists--apparently in the service of ergonomics and privacy.

The Microsoft watch could be released as early as this summer, Forbes reports. This would be just in time to beat Apple's iWatch to market--assuming Apple even has an iWatch, and that Apple's never-once-announced wearable would be released in the Fall, and not at WWDC next week.

I've been an advocate for a "Surface Watch" since April 2013. But the prospect of a Surface Watch becomes even more attractive now that Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, has proven her mettle. How would you like to see that on your wrist? It would be Microsoft's version of Android Wear.

But let's not forget that Microsoft has already tried and failed in the smartwatch game. Dig the photo at the top of this article. You're looking at Bill Gates hawking the Swatch Paparazzi, a wristwatch that pushed news updates from MSN Direct.

You can learn about MSN Direct right here on Wikipedia. Because only historians know what it is.

But that first wearables effort was 10 years ago. Certainly Microsoft has learned something about wrist accessories and mobile UIs in the interim. I want my Surface Watch in dark gray VaporMg.

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