Skip to main content

Microsoft Band: Read the backstory on the evolution and development Microsoft's new smart device

Tonight, Microsoft unveiled their new health and fitness device dubbed Microsoft Band. You can now order it online in the US or pick it up at your local Microsoft Store starting Thursday, October 30 for $199.

How did Microsoft get to this point of entering in the brave new world of smart wearables? More importantly, what is it that they can bring to the table that other companies have not?

Luckily, Microsoft has answers for us. The company has unabashedly shared a massive 3,000-word essay about the Microsoft Band story, including its conception and development.

The big take away from the Microsoft Band is the thought and care that went into its design. Reportedly, the team behind the Surface was involved with the Band's design and implementation, and it certainly sounds that way. Take this quote from Zulfi Alam, GM of Personal Devices:

"This is just the beginning…Microsoft Health will develop a physical substrate about your data and use that together with a digital substrate to provide you with contextually relevant information be it your feeling of exhilaration when parachuting out of an airplane, how you felt the first time you saw the Grand Canyon or your stress level the first time you presented to Bill Gates. I know that my heart rate topped 120 when I shared our plan for Microsoft Band with him."

Whether it was the size of the band, the sensors or the information engine that collects the information, every bit of the Band just seems…smart. Moreover, it seems realistic for 2014, whereas so-called 'smart watches' all seem like attempts reaching for the moon, but fall well short of the promise.

So grab a coffee and go read the whole thing to understand what Microsoft is trying to do with their Band. We know we will be up early to pick one up at our local Microsoft Store in the morning (you can also now order it online (opens in new tab).

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

112 Comments
  • Awesome
  • screen size should be little large.
  • Yeah awesome... But where's the full specs version?? No camera no wifi, no sd, little screen...
  • "little screen"... Lol I guess you are more of a phaband kinda person?
  • There's a 6inch device which doesn't hold onto u.. U hold on to it. -1520
  • Hey Google,Apple beware!! This is just the beginning...
  • I feel like this is also the beginning to Microsoft putting themselves back on the radar of relevance. I feel pretty good about this new product and that it will sell well.
  • It's really nice that they aren't WAY behind in getting another consumer device out this time around. It's also really smart to have it work with the other two platforms.
  • dude are you serious? fit bands are something apple/google didn't do because 1) the market is already saturated 2) watches can do everything this can 3) this can't do everything watch platforms can 4) android wear will kill this, if not already dead. 5) there is no demand for a 200 dollar fit band when the iwatch android watches cost as much and do more. this is a DOA zune.
  • Yeah, that's why Apple has a smart watch on its way to the market, with a full health and fitness software platform to support it.  It's also why Nike backed out of Fuel Band - you know because Apple and Google aren't going to do them. Why can't people see that Microsoft is now out Appling Apple? It almost seems as if they have switched places. Here is Apple telling us about their smart watch months before release (to prevent the masses from buying something else), while Microsoft releases theirs immediately - and it is refined, well thought out, and universal.  This is why they released it for all mobile platforms - knee to the groin.
  • Except for people like me, who wouldn't be caught dead with a smartwatch, but want to wear something low key on my other wrist, while still keeping a regular watch.
  • low key?. this thing is a brick...and it isn't even a proper smart watch.
  • Lol this comment makes much more sense if you add the /s tag I'm assuming you forgot
  • smart watches are also tied to a particular platform. This can be used with any platform. Moreover, this is significantly cheaper than a device like the iWatch. That's not to say that this will outsell it. Apple could make a block of metal and that would outsell this. That's just the way things are in the consumer space today.
  • but this isn't a smart watch. it's a dumb fit band. it has no apps, not extensibility. It is a zune. basically it does what it does and will not really compete with the soon to be had 100K per month watch apps on iOS and android.
  • No, it isn't a smart watch. Not sure what people will do with hundreds of apps on their smart watch. It's not like you're going to watch Netflix movies or play flappy bird or make soundtracks using garage band on a smart watch. The size of the screen makes it's utility compared to Microsoft's band limited. The band already displays some information from the phone and they're hinting at expanding the functionality. In any case, as Thurrott said, it's more about the platform. It'll be interesting to see how they can use the information that's gathered to help users.
  • just because you have little imagination doesn't mean apps are not a good thing.
  • false. there is no requirement a smart watch needs to be tied to any platform. This is itself a platform, MS health. so you ARE tied to that. What you're thinking is that a smart watch needs to be tied to android and windows, that is not a requirement. google/appple do it because they can. MS cannot because, well they have no mobile platform of any credibility. But again, they don't have to. They can build the app SDK for this band, that has nothing to do with WP. The apps talk to the band, or a common API on the device which then handles the OS integration via the app for each platform. Thus the platform is abstracted from the app dev, thus not tied.
  • This is the most insane comment than I see for years. Congratulations!
  • US only and 'limited numbers' - nothing to fear yet. When they get around to releasing it to more markets and not 'limited numbers' then there'll be a chance for it.
    I'm going to see if a friend who orders things through a mail redirector in the US is able to get one of these for me - otherwise I'll just stick with the Fitbit I have :(
    If it was available here in Australia I'd have been placing my order tomorrow :)
  • If it was available here in India I'd have been placing my order today :)
  • +930/1020
    Pay day tomorrow :) otherwise would also have been doing it today - but not available outside the US so no joy :(
  • +930 Yep. The same feeling. No joy here too :-(
  • Would have beat you to it ;-)
  • The device can help me be a better human....
    That's one weird sounding tag line
  • Yup, I was thinking the same thing. That statement seems just a bit ridiculous
  • Well better stress management makes a "Better Human being" - The Band has a "galvanic skin response measure to track stress" which is a sensor that no other fitness band has as of now.... Jokes apart... dont forget to have an eye for detail and appreciate it... makes u a better human being...
  • I was stealing banks every month and was not happy about it. I tried doing jobs and other stuff but still I was stealing. Than I found out about Microsoft band and my life changed. It helped me a better human. Now I just pick pockets and live happily.;-)
  • LOL
  • Must be hard stealing a whole bank
  • Oh sure, now he's a little boy stealing banks, but someday he'll be a grown man stealing stadiums and quarries.
  • Try it some time; they're not as heavy as you'd think.
  • Well better stress management (even during a heist...)makes a "Better Human being" - The Band has a "galvanic skin response measure to track stress" which is a sensor that no other fitness band has as of now.... Jokes apart... dont forget to have an eye for detail and appreciate it... makes u a better human being... Oh and it does not have moral compass.. just a magnetic one...
  • Cortana: I noticed your step count just drastically increased and your HR has spiked...its time to get a girlfriend and be a better human.
  • Well better stress management makes a "Better Human being" - The Band has a "galvanic skin response measure to track stress" which is a sensor that no other fitness band has as of now.... Jokes apart... dont forget to have an eye for detail and appreciate it... makes u a better human being...
  • It makes perfect sense if you are the robot in the opening picture. She looks like a doll with that glassy stare. :-/
  • I look at the wording as "being a better human" can be viewed from a health perspective - not being a better person. Maybe... lol
  • It's a bit - "the rise of the machines starts now" eerie...
  • she may be a alien and now trying to become a human.... ;)
  • i really need a filter(wp,pc,xbox,others) option in windows central .....
  • Y can't u enjoy all?
  • OR Or or, you could just not click the article you inbred
  • OR Or or, you could just not click the article you inbred
  • Also...there is a filter
  • Hey Microsoft, make some device that induces patience on your customers because we are losing it.
  • I'm with you!
  • But it would be US only
  • Actually that one should be for all but US cause they get it all and we have to wait so we need a patience personal trainer...
  • Yeah I know, as an Indian, I just cannot elaborate enough how difficult it is to support MS. We barely get any devices, Lumia 930 very was late, Surface is yet to surface in India.
  • lol so true. up vote coming your way. this is lame. this is so lame it doesn't even deserve an article.
  • Daniel... Your second to last paragraph hits my thinking. I'm really convinced that wearable devices are going to grow from the "bottom" up with highly targeted, but accessible devices. I think the "kitchen sink" top down approach of Apple and others is in for a long slog as they struggle with size, UI, and battery life.
  • Cool! Can't wait to buy me one
  • Edit - got the link, thanks!
  • I've got an exchangeable amount of UK sterling here that is burning a hole into my UK manufactured jeans and my palm sweat is seeping through my UK driving gloves..... For a device that is on a different continent :(
  • No WIndows 8.1 app? Universal apps shold have made it a no brainer.
  • Microsoft health is in the Store for WP8.1
  • I think he means full Windows, like on a Surface or laptop, not a WP app
  • I want to be excited about this product.....been disappointed with msft lately..let it be all it seems to be and more lol :-D kuddos for making it available so soon though!
  • US only... 9 percent market share on average in the big five European countries... You rip us off on pricing (564 dollars for a kinectless Xbox One) yet you don't release it here... Apple release worldwide and have stores here... Hope this bombs like Zune...
  • Lol.
  • Yes have it bomb and you think they will do anything nice for you....and I thought the USA was full of entitled pricks. Go get yourself an apple, real or otherwise.
  • Looking at the specs (Bluetooth 4.0 LE) I am going to take a wild guess and say that it wont work without Lumia Cyan and more specifically with my new doorstop Lumia Icon...sound about right?  I would love to swap out my Fitbit for this as I hate having to sync with the USB dongle since Verizon wont release Cyan, but my concern is that this device would be me in the same boat. A.
  • I am concerned about this as well. I went ahead and ordered one hoping that a miracle may happen. Lack of Cyan / official 8.1 is really starting to suck.
  • That was a worthwhile read. I think the sleeping giant is stirring. Sounds like huge things coming. The design of this Band is way beyond what the iPhone only toys can offer.
  • Finally Bill Gates has a spate of MS products he can be proud of.
  • Screen too small, waiting for WABLET! XD
  • What's next, a Microsoft Hospital...this is strange to me
  • Microsoft driverless car, Microsoft internet baloons, Microsoft modular smartphones, Microsoft VR.
  • Mo need pr VR Glasses it will ruin your eyes. Room alive is the best concept.
  • Yeah, that stuff looks bad ass. Too bad it's not coming anytime soon as MS said it to be too expensive to implement.
  • Here it comes! It finally comes! :D
  • I wanted this north of the border!
  • I would love to buy this, but I can't because I live outside the US :((.  To me it seems a little silly it isn't available outside the US. Hopefully they'll release it internationally soon (maybe it's so they can work out a few kinks if any crop up before an international release).
  • Anyone know if we can actually control music playback with this?? It would be freaking awesome if we could!!
  • i do hope too since my 1520 is too Big for playback controls haha
  • Not out of the gate, no.  But I agree and hope that it is in development!
  • Can help me be a better human? Hey, don't knock it... This device could end all wars and bring peace to our world as we know it... Lol
  • I want one too. Why is it for the right hand? How does it charge?
  • So I guess I better human.
  • The quote is really terrible in the picture. 
  • Good it is working on ioS and Android or else it will be lying in showrooms forever  
  • I get the 'be a better human' line as she's obviously a sociopath. /s
    But really , I really like this. I don't know if it's for me but I still might get it. Neat new gadget MS, good job.
  • Difenetly gonna buy that thing! Love it very much already! Thank you very much, microsoft!!!
  • This is awesome. I want that watch.
  • Wow this is amazing. This is the most innovative thing Ms has done in decades and such great long term thinking!!! Go Nadella!
  • Nadella had very little to do with this...
    It has been in development for 3 years.
  • he's being sarcastic. the band market is ancient, saturated and MSFT is only now entering it. the smart watch is already closing the door, with apple ensuring nobody else can get in, and MSFT won't make an entrance there for two years.
  • Ahh! I want this. But first... read up:)
  • ha ha ha. I give it a year. then killed like the zune.
  • Don't think so. As long as purple understand its entirety,I think it can have potential. MS needs to advertise it
  • 1) potential. people don't buy on potential. They would buy windows phone if they did. 2) MS needs to advertise it. That didn't move windows phone whatsoever. MS ads are futile. 3) people understand it. will never happen. It has no apps. It has no smart watch capabilities other than telling you some notifications. requires a smartphone to be anything. everything about this thing has failure. worse of all, it has no apps store. get it? no apps. zero. nada. meanwhile android wear will probably clock at 100K apps for bands/watches by the time this gets around its first update.
  • It's an impressive design. I'd say the best word for it would be "practical". Including the usage. I don't suck face with my phone all day so it'd be nice to get a message and see whether it's urgent enough to pull out my phone :).
  • Paul Thurott called it bulky and big. it's a brick.   It's big and bulky. This is no Fitbit. The device is 0.75-inches wide and 0.34-inches thick (19mm x 8.7mm) and weighs 2.12 ounces (60g). the total opposite of what it should be.
  • Отличный гаджет!
  • Amazing I will buy this as soon as possible
  • Meh.
  • Wow <3 I like it :D I would buy one :-) but I am from Germany. ​
  • Here we go again! MS beating Apple to it as it did in unified OS.
  • and here we go again, apple beating MS in sales.
  • The girl in the picture has her Band on backwards.  The screen is supposed to go on the wrist side.
  • The screen can be worn on either side of the wrist.  It is up to the user which they prefer.  But if you wear is on the outside of the wrist you will probably switch the first time the guy sitting next to reads your incoming text message.  ;)
  • This would be much better with a curved or flexible display.
  • This would be much better with a curved or flexible display.
  • what other fitness band have lacking is solved with backing and support of one of the major player in mobile os, and certainly its compatibility with android or ios makes a compelling choice for first time smart wearable adopters
  • WANT !!!! Throwing my credit card at screen but nothings happening !!!! Cortana on a WATCH !!!!! Heck yeah !
  • Ordered. Fingers crossed it works with my "flagship" Icon that still does not have Cyan.
  • Is there any word on how this will integrate with Health Vault? I use Health Vault for some things now, but this has some overlapping functionality.
  • so where is the windows wear app store? lol. this is a device with no apps LOL. OMG, is it for real?
  • poor guys. reminds me of the back story of the zune. so much talent, such poor product direction.
  • Why so much negativity? Please let them be! They are doing something worthwhile, whether or not you agree with it. It's so painful to see people carelessly bashing what others have put years of effort, dedication and research into. A great product with brilliant vision and some guys just come and try to pull down without even touching it!! Why???
  • because it is so close to having been a success, but again MS managemened ruined it. 1) it should have been a platform with an SDK, and open to OEMs. 2) it should have launched with an appstore 3) it should have been about creating a future for more windows mobile devices, instead of yet another zune.
  • How did Microsoft get to this point of entering in the brave new world of smart wearables?
    Well, given that Microsoft pioneered SPOT way back in 2004, which was probably the first widely-available collection of smart devices (including a few smartwatches), I'd say that they beat Apple and Google to the market by nearly a decade. Once again, Microsoft fails to receive credit for getting there first Of course, Microsoft wasn't even the first company to release a smartwatch. They were simply the first to mainstream it. And, they were probably the first to create one that wasn't just a phone or computer on the wrist but something that actually received notifications OTA.