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A vision for Microsoft's smartwatch and four more Surface family members

Jon Phillips | April 16, 2013
Don't discount the Surface Watch outright. With just the right features it could be much more successful than any Surface Tablet.

If Microsoft ever releases the smartwatch that the Wall Street Journal reports is in development, the gadget won't just be entering a wearable computing market that has yet to be proven out. The watch would also extend a family of Surface hardware devices thatno one is clamoring to buy.

Yet hardware is a critical component of Microsoft's mobile-focused reinvention, and the company can't let crappy tablet sales dim its ambition. The Surface family must grow larger if Microsoft is to realize its quite public aspirations, and if you really begin to think about what a Surface Watch might offer, the concept suddenly segues from misguided and far-fetched to "Hmmm... I might actually buy that thing."

And let's say the entire Surface Watch is clad in VaporMg-a material that Microsoft deliberately called out last June as having a finish 'akin to a luxury watch.'

The watch won't look anything like the MSN-connected Swatch Paparazzi shown in the image above, but it could go down in flames like the Paparazzi if Microsoft doesn't nail the gadget's design and intent. With that, I describe the Surface Watch that I would want to buy, and wax fantastically on four more Surface brand extensions.

Surface Watch

If you can't sell customers a $1,000 Surface tablet, maybe you can sell them a Surface smartwatch that's priced to move. Let's say this device is $150 (the same as Pebble's smartwatch). Let's say it grabs Microsoft's modern UI, and tosses a new Live Tile on your screen every 10 seconds. How's that for a conversation starter? With its always-on connection, the Surface Watch throws tweets, news headlines, and other streaming bits and bobs directly onto its touchscreen face.

The Surface Watch also comes with an exclusive killer app: a mini Xbox controller interface. Now you can adjust your Xbox experience in SmartGlass-esque fashion.

Microsoft smartwatch
The Swatch Paparazzi displayed streaming updates, but lacked Metro cool, and was dressed in gaudy clothing.

And let's say the entire Surface Watch is clad in VaporMg-a material that Microsoft deliberately called out last June as having a finish "akin to a luxury watch." But here's the kicker: The touchscreen interface isn't color, but rather is rendered in stark black-and-white e-paper. The aesthetic marries perfectly to the dark magnesium sheen of VaporMg, helping Microsoft deliver a wearable gadget that's as handsome as it is functional.

Finally, the smartwatch doesn't just rely on Windows Phone connectivity to drive those rotating Live Tiles. Microsoft takes advantage of Android's open platform to ensure the Surface Watch works with the planet's most dominant smartphone family. In one fell swoop, a Surface product is immediately relevant to millions of people, many of whom discover Live Tile love for the very first time.

 

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