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Handhelds Hardware

Microsoft Shows Off Watch, Portable Media Player 232

gmt-time points to this New York Times article with a report from the in-progress Consumer Electronics Show, excerpting "Microsoft, continuing its effort to extend its reach beyond computers, today introduced designs for a new class of watch that gives more than the time and a pocket audio and video player." According to the article, several manufacturers are committed to producing both the watches (mentioned yesterday as well) and the audio/video players. I wonder if they'll play Ogg Vorbis and my DivX;) files ...
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Microsoft Shows Off Watch, Portable Media Player

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  • Who the hell wants a watch that crashes with the BSOD whenever I ask it to tell me the time!

  • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:06AM (#5054290)
    Why not get a Timex Pager Watch [timex.com]?
    • I heard this was similar to the microsoft watch, but costs one third the price. This hurdle should not be a problem for Microsoft Marketing.

  • Microsoft has built a new national wireless data network, based on the data broadcasting ability of FM radio stations. The company says that compared with traditional paging systems, this network makes it cheaper both to broadcast data and build receivers. It said the microchips for the watch, which it designed, cost less than $10 each wholesale.


    So they already made an FM network? I thought it was just a what-if scenario.

    • Re:FM Network? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 )
      They will be using one of the subcarriers on the FM broadcast signals, like they do with elevator music.

      Pirating the signal should be a fairly easy hack, as long as the encryption is not too strong.
      • as long as the encryption is not too strong.

        I've got a calculator watch for that.

        Ah, who am I kidding? The only encryption I can break is 8008135.

    • Microsoft has built a new national wireless data network, based on the data broadcasting ability of FM radio stations. The company says that compared with traditional paging systems, this network makes it cheaper both to broadcast data and build receivers. It said the microchips for the watch, which it designed, cost less than $10 each wholesale.

      So does this mean that with a low power FM transmitter in the area you could perform a denial of service attack on Microsoft watches, but standard watches would be immune?
  • by supergiovane ( 606385 ) <arturo.digioia@i ... t minus language> on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:08AM (#5054308)
    Obviously you will need a DRM compliant arm to wear it.

    • You'll have no trouble getting one [arm.com]:

      SECURITY AND DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (DRM)

      ARM is also bringing secure solutions to market for its digital audio customers. In conjunction with its partners, ARM is working to ensure DRM solutions from companies including Liquid Audio, Intertrust and Microsoft are supported to enable OEMs to develop solutions that manage rights-protected content.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:59AM (#5054675)
      My nightmare is that by next year we will all be be wearing MS wrist watches. It will happen like this


      Microsoft announced that to prevent piracy they will be assessing $100 to anyone who has a wrist even if the MS wristwatch is not intalled. The BSA has proposed challenge audits, in which all persons hanving one or more wrist must be able to document thay have paid the $100 wrist- site liscence or that they have purchased a MS wrist watch.
      "it is just to easy for someone to remove the watch from the wrist and install it on another unlicensed Wrist" said a microsoft spokes person, " that is a violation of the EULA". He went onto hint that the forthcoming "palladium wristwatch that once implanted..err.. I mean worn, cannot be removed, only upgraded from a 'trusted' member of the collective."


      Not even the all-powerful reality distortion field of steve Jobs could make a data-watch seem like a major research achievement, or even new, or even something you would want touching your arm. (they are as stylish and practical is a pocket protector).

      It seems to me that this has got to be an all time low point for announcements of innovation in consumer electronics. Why? Maybe its because of the down turn in the tech-market means new products are not being developed. Another possibility is that microsoft's moves into hardware production(x box,phones) and Hardware specification (palladium, watches, media player, smartScreens) is having a chilling effect on the electronics industry. Recently they (allegedly) tried bankrupt a phone maker and move his technology to a competitor. Shades of Stacker and all the other software companies microsoft co-opted, ruined then bought their technology.

      There is little doubt that MS stifled innovation in software. Just the fact that jobs could tweak an open source project to tripple the speed of a web browser over IE, when IE has had a clear field to innovate for five years or more, speaks volumes about the MS innovation stifle field. How could apple even dream they could technologically beat MS in the Power point market, but they did.

      Does anyone else find these MS offerings utterly tepid compared to Apple innovation the day before?

      Bill gates announces a recylced idea for a Nerd watch that shows sport scores, headlines. The debut the smartScreen, a 1500$ screen-only that hooks to your compute by wi-fi but cant play movies or mp3s, then they announce that anyone who already bought was is out of luck since that they will be changing the specs to use 802.11a to get better bandwidth for movies. then an oversized so-called "video" ipod that also cant show DVD movies, for more bucks than a ipod.

      The only thing I thought was interesting was that they decided to switch to 802.11a for the smartScreens and not 802.11g. I dont know much about these standards except what Jobs said. 802.11a is dead, because it is not backwards compatible with 802.11b hotspots whereas 802.11g is.

      How is it possible that one company can lead the entire market year after year going back all the way to the taming of dynamic memory. While the other company can lead the bussiness world and innovate nothing.

      • Does anyone else find these MS offerings utterly tepid compared to Apple innovation the day before?

        Please. If Steve Jobs had introduced an iMac that allowed you to pop off the screen and carry it around the house with you wirelessly, the Mac faithful would have drowned in a sea of their own drool.
  • ... for all your pocket-sized porn needs. Seriously, what am I going to do, carry a $500 device around to show pictures of my kids on??

    Apple is rumored to have something like this in the pipeline too, and Archos released a similar thing [archos.com] a few months ago.

    Are people so hard-up for porn that they can't sit at their computer and watch it like a respectable person?
  • by N Monkey ( 313423 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:08AM (#5054312)
    .. they had an interview with Bill and I'm sure he said the "media to go" was going to be manufactured by Intel.

    The article doesn't seem to mention this but perhaps I just misheard the TV broadcast.
  • And the point is? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <oliverthered&hotmail,com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:08AM (#5054313) Journal
    Ok,
    The Weather, umm... look at the sky, that's how I get my forcast.

    Sport, well GPL's a fun game to help play against Microsoft.(I never did see the attraction in watching somone else play)

    The Time, umm... I already have a watch thankyou, maybe not atomicly perfect but it'll do.

    Music, lar lar lar lar, lar lar ,lar lar, any one name that tune? Humm.. Wistle, be creative fine, music on my watch, boring.
  • by tigress ( 48157 ) <rot13.fcnzgenc03@8in.net> on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:09AM (#5054322)
    I wonder if it'll be more than a fancy toy/gadget. To be quite honest, I'm quite satisfied with my watch showing the time (and possibly also the date). For music, and even moreso with video, I prefer a more tangible device.

    Now, integrating the whole thing in a cellphone, pda or smartphone, I can go along with. In fact, I've ditched my old watch since it's easier to just keep everything in my phone - which, by the way, I can do a lot more than listening to music and watching video on. =)
  • Considering the runaway profitablilty of the XBOX, I am sure this will prove to be a similarly astounding foray into the world away from PC's! soon we'll have Palladium toilet paper by microsoft. Trustworthy Whiping.
  • by simi-lost ( 639853 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:10AM (#5054329)
    When I have a cell phone that fits in my pocket, that has the time on it, surfs the web, brings me the news, does text messaging.. AND doesn't run on a OS that is well known for bugs?
    • Easier to move and twist your arm slightly and look at the watch than reaching in to pocket and grabbing cell phone (assuming you have a non-flip style one, or one that has a display on the outside of it, otherwise you'd have to open it up too)

      Yeah, it's not that much harder, but it is slightly quicker. Also, on packed trains you run less chance of being yelled at for being a perv by looking up at your watch, than accidentally brushing your arm against the ass of the person next to you then fishing around in your pocket for a bit.
    • It seems we are at the "pocket watch" stage with phones. Soon, (maybe) we will have the phone *IN* the watch.

      I have seen large watches with FRS radios, cameras, GPS units, etc. built in. Why can't a phone fit in a watch? It looks like the battery could be in the band, using that plastic battery technology the Air Force is working on.

    • Exactly.

      Watches are going out of style really fast. You see less and less young people (teens -> early 30's) wearing them. Well, fashion-sensed ones anyways =) You don't need a watch if you have a cell phone. I don't need to look at the time that often. I'm sure majority of the time your looking at your watch it's just habit, and you don't really need to look at the time.

      All these new watches with integrated video, audio and what not are all, what my geneartion likes to call, "gay". The only people who are going to buy them are people fasinated by the technology, they won't be considered pratical technology. How about we invent something new, instead of slopping new features and new technology on an old concept.
  • Karma Whoring (Score:2, Informative)

    A Microsoft Watch Will Provide Much More Than Time
    By SAUL HANSELL
    AS VEGAS, Jan. 8 -- Microsoft, continuing its effort to extend its reach beyond computers, today introduced designs for a new class of watch that gives more than the time and a pocket audio and video player.

    The designs, which will be available from several manufacturers by the end of the year, were presented by Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, in a speech today that opened the annual International Consumer Electronics Show here.

    But even as the company extends its reach to new devices, Microsoft's vision is closely linked to the computer. Both the watch -- which can provide weather information, text messages and other data -- and the media player are designed to be controlled through wireless connections to their owners' PC's.

    In an interview today, Mr. Gates said he saw a world in which the personal computer was increasingly linked wirelessly to all manner of displays.

    "You will have devices in the home of different screen sizes: wall-sized for a lot of people to watch, desk-sized for doing homework or taxes, and pocket-sized for information you have with you at all times, and watch-sized," he said. "We will make all those work together."

    Mr. Gates's vision is very much a hot topic of the electronics show here, where more than 2,000 manufacturers are displaying their wares to 100,000 attendees. Much of the focus has been on wireless networking and other ways to connect digital devices like CD and DVD players, cameras and computers.

    But Microsoft is trying to avoid the cutthroat business of hardware manufacturing in consumer electronics, as it has in computers, and it hopes instead to profit by licensing its software. The new products have license fees of $10 to $25 a unit, Microsoft executives said.

    The media player, called Media2Go, resembles the Apple iPod, in that it has a 20-gigabyte hard drive that can hold hundreds of songs. But it also has a color screen for watching videos and looking at photographs. Microsoft showed a mockup with a 3.5-inch screen, but some manufacturers would make larger versions with 7-inch screens, it said. Samsung, iRiver, Sanyo and ViewSonic have agreed to make versions of the device, which is expected to sell for less than $500.

    The device will not be able to hold movies from DVD's. But it will store and play home movies and video downloaded from the Internet. It will also be able to store copies of broadcast and cable television programs recorded by Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition.

    Rob Enderle, a research fellow with the Giga Information Group, said there was great demand for such personal video players.

    "It's going to be the biggest thing in 2003," he said. "Our testing shows that it least has the market potential of Apple's iPod if not quite a bit more."

    He said that Apple was thought to be working on a version of the iPod with video ability, but it lost an opportunity to be the first to market when it did not announce the product as some people expected at the Macworld conference on Tuesday.

    The watch will initially be made by Fossil, Citizen and Suunto. The simplest versions will cost less than $150, but the watchmakers will also make much more expensive designs. The watch will require a subscription to a data service, which Microsoft executives said might have a fee of $5 to $12 a month or might be included in the price of some watches.

    All of the watches will have a small, rectangular liquid crystal display and the ability to receive short data messages, much like a pager. This technology will allow the watch to identify where it is and what the local time is -- and the local weather forecast -- as the wearer travels.

    The watch will also be able to receive the wearer's personal calendar sent from a personal computer and instant messages sent through Microsoft's messaging service.

    Microsoft has built a new national wireless data network, based on the data broadcasting ability of FM radio stations. The company says that compared with traditional paging systems, this network makes it cheaper both to broadcast data and build receivers. It said the microchips for the watch, which it designed, cost less than $10 each wholesale.

    Microsoft's watch design is the first instance of what it calls smart personal object technology, or SPOT, which powers devices with access to information. William H. Mitchell, the general manager of the smart personal objects unit, said such a device could be sold for less than $20.
  • Patent Issues (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fict ( 475 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:11AM (#5054335)
    I believe that nintendo's video game watches should be cited as prior art.
    • Come on now, does anybody remember those Pac Man watches oh, say twenty or more years ago?

      As for other things they were demoing, they might be able to claim smart refridgerator magnets as patentable but how is that going to improve my life? Lets have some real innovation out there. Please?

  • The video player sounds good, but I heard mac was making an ipod with video, so the video ipod kind of wins by default. As for the watch it is totally awesome. If only it used a different messenger than MSN. Give me a watch running gaim and then it will be worth your subscription fee.
    • "The video player sounds good, but I heard mac was making an ipod with video, so the video ipod kind of wins by default."

      Why? IPod's are over-priced now. Plus only works with 5% of PC.
  • by Zigg ( 64962 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:13AM (#5054355)

    I don't know about anyone else, but I sure as hell aren't wearing any Microsoft product with a metal side touching my skin. My wrist would probably develop a twitch from the "corrective" shocks coming from the watch whenever I sit down at my Linux box...

  • I wonder if they'll play Ogg Vorbis and my DivX;) files ...

    HA HA! HOO HOO HOO!

    <wipes eyes>

    Too funny. Why don't you just ask if they can come with your favorite Linux distro preinstalled too :)
  • .... I can get one of these with the optional surround sound module .....

  • Where I work... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HogGeek ( 456673 )
    I can't get a FM signal to my desk...

    So does this mean I'll have to go outside to get the time?

  • DRM2Go? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by runtimeerror7 ( 244061 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:28AM (#5054440)
    "The media player, called Media2Go, resembles the Apple iPod......"...."The device will not be able to hold movies from DVD's. But it will store and play home movies and video downloaded from the Internet"

    is that a way of stopping DVD piracy? DRM? or it just cant hold all my *future* LOTR DVD's together?

    well 7 inch screen to watch LOTR? geez, i cant even see the ring let alone sauron. ::akbar

  • This [skytel.com] and this (last item) [thismorning.co.uk] very impressive and definately totally new and original and no-one has ever considered this before. Not these people [casiowristcamera.com] bet it wouldn't occur to them in a millon years.

    Oh and of course there are lots of mobile phone that do this already as well.
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:31AM (#5054456) Homepage
    If it has the same technical feats as Microsofts Windows Smart Phone edition, then the watch owners might be in for a surprise.

    This is a translation (without permission) from a blurb in todays Neue Zurcher Zeitung [nzz.ch] regarding introduction of a new Microsoft Powered cell phone to be introduced by Swisscom [swisscom.com].

    [...] While Orange integrated their customers into bug hunting, Swisscom is still waiting until the first software update is rolled out.

    Currently engineers at Swisscom, Microsoft and HTC (the manufacturer) are trying to determine why the phone doesn't ring on incoming calls[...]

    I know, that this is slightly offtopic. But would you trust such a watch to provide the correct time of day?

    • everybody knows the boat is leeking

      You don't need a boat to grow leeks. A trowel does make it easier to plant them, though.
  • I wonder if they'll play Ogg Vorbis and my DivX;) files ...

    No.

    It won't.

  • ... A pretty lady asked me what time on my watch.

    And I said....

    "It's two bluescreens past 3:00"

    (with apologies to Chicago....)

  • by mbstone ( 457308 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:40AM (#5054523)
    As I mentioned in the article I posted to Slashdot yesterday [slashdot.org], I had to trash my Seiko MessageWatch because the company decided to exit the FM data business, leaving me with an expensive piece of scrap metal. Is Bill G. giving guarantees as to how long MS is committed to broadcasting the time, weather, sports, and email?? Will watch buyers again be left holding the bag in a short period of time when MS finally decides this business model doesn't work any better for MS than it did for Seiko?? Why the *^&% should I again shell out the big bux for a watch that I am eventually going to wind up smashing with a sledgehammer like I did the MessageWatch??
    • Whoops! (Score:3, Funny)

      by ShieldWolf ( 20476 )
      >Why the *^&% should I again shell out the big bux for a watch that I am eventually going to wind up smashing with a sledgehammer like I did the MessageWatch??

      Late breaking news:

      Seiko announced it was reversing its decision to leave the FM data business. ;)

  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:45AM (#5054559)
    I REALLY hate to see everyone bashing Microsoft every time they attempt something new. Sure, it may possibly exend the so called "monopoly" but the thing is how may times have we seen something like this fail? Now Microsoft is trying their hand at it. Will it work? Somehow, I doubt it. The things I hate seeing brought out AGAIN:

    1. Oh no now my will BSOD! BSOD's are actually getting to be less of a problem. This thing will probably not have a regular NT kernel, but probably something related to CE or more likely, something totally different. CE, for me has been very reliable (in the PocketPC form). I usually don't have a problem with CE in general. PocketPC problems are usually something wrong with the device or the vendor specific code. Usually with in a few months or so most of the bugs get worked out via flashes and they just work.

    2. Oh no now I will have to reboot my 4 times a day! Even if you did, it would only take 2 seconds or less to do and I doubt you'd have to reset it 4 times a day!

    3. Oh now I need a DRM compliant ! This is just bashing for sake of bashing. Yeah, DRM sucks, but in every implementation I have seen (WMP 9) it allows you to disable it! Also, you can always download Winamp 3 and use it.

    Your bashing the product before you even truely see it because Microsoft is attached to it. This kind of thing is just Juvenile and

    Oh and these things usually come from those who use a Microsoft mouse on thier Linux boxes. You got to admit that the come up with some great mice!
    • ...which is that MS isn't doing anything new. It never does. Pager watch? An MP3 player that also plays videos? Wake me up when Gates discovers indoor plumbing.
    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:08AM (#5054761) Homepage Journal
      I REALLY hate to see everyone bashing Microsoft every time they attempt something new. Sure, it may possibly exend the so called "monopoly" but the thing is how may times have we seen something like this fail? Now Microsoft is trying their hand at it. Will it work? Somehow, I doubt it.

      Perhaps it is because Microsoft really is doing *nothing* new. Name one innovative product to come out of Microsoft that they have not purchased from someone else or outright copied........Clippy? Bob? Please. People are reluctant to want to support Microsoft because of bloated and inefficient programming and third rate design and implementation among many other reasons.

      Oh no now my will BSOD! BSOD's are actually getting to be less of a problem.

      But they still happen fairly frequently. Just yesterday on an XP box, I got a blue screen from plugging in a Firewire HD. On the other hand, I have been using OS X heavily since September of 2000 and have had one kernel panic (when running the beta), and experienced a hard crash maybe twice (post beta), and one of them was my fault with bad code. Or for more of a portable OS, look at Palm OS. It is small, fast, reliable and I have never seen it crash.

      Oh no now I will have to reboot my 4 times a day! Even if you did, it would only take 2 seconds or less to do and I doubt you'd have to reset it 4 times a day!

      And when it does, do I need to reset the time or re-synch the time?

      Oh now I need a DRM compliant ! This is just bashing for sake of bashing. Yeah, DRM sucks, but in every implementation I have seen (WMP 9) it allows you to disable it! Also, you can always download Winamp 3 and use it.

      Or I can use Quicktime, the best media solution out there that also happens to be open standards compliant and no DRM junk.

      Your bashing the product before you even truely see it because Microsoft is attached to it.

      It's expected outcomes based upon a number of years of proven behavior. If I touch the stovetop four times, and get burned four times, what is the likelyhood that I will not get burned if I touch it again?
      • Oh no now my will BSOD! BSOD's are actually getting to be less of a problem.

        But they still happen fairly frequently. Just yesterday on an XP box, I got a blue screen from plugging in a Firewire HD. On the other hand, I have been using OS X heavily since September of 2000 and have had one kernel panic (when running the beta), and experienced a hard crash maybe twice (post beta), and one of them was my fault with bad code. Or for more of a portable OS, look at Palm OS. It is small, fast, reliable and I have never seen it crash.


        Yeah, I agree with you that they are still a problem, I work on a help desk supporting winXP, and they still have BSOD (mainly from our Colorado Springs office, which makes me want to blame it on Cosmic rays.. anywhoo) but comparing OSX stability to XP stability isn't exactly a fair game. OSX know EXACTLY what hardware it's going to be running on. XP has quite a large cross section of computers and components that it's got to support.

        for the record, I use XP at work, Gentoo(desktop) and Redhat(servers) at home (with the occasional boot into win2k at lan parties), and OSX when I go drool on a friend's mac.
      • Perhaps it is because Microsoft really is doing *nothing* new. Name one innovative product to come out of Microsoft that they have not purchased from someone else or outright copied........Clippy? Bob? Please. People are reluctant to want to support Microsoft because of bloated and inefficient programming and third rate design and implementation among many other reasons.

        Um I challenge you to name anything that anyone has ever done that is completely new. EVER.

        "If I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants..." -- Isaac Newton

        All inventions are based on things that were developed before them.

        But to satisfy you, here's an innovation from which I'd like to quote Philip Greenspun, no MS fan by any stretch.

        "Ironically this approach to distributed computing over the Internet was ignored by most of the rest of the world except for one company: Microsoft! If you look at Microsoft .NET you'll see that it provides extensive support for building applications like this wealth clock." -- from the Bill Gates Wealth Clock [greenspun.com]

        Innovation isn't just the invention of something new (which MS earns millions of patents for a year), but the ability to distribute it to the public in a new way.
        • Um I challenge you to name anything that anyone has ever done that is completely new. EVER.

          Think about that statement for a minute, and then construct a dendrogram of conceptual knowledge. At some point, even branch points based upon previous work, innovative thinking or novel synthesis of information *must* occur to move concepts and products forward. There are lots of things that are new, off the top of my head, conceptualizing DNA as a double helix, propellers for boats or planes, movements from barter to monetary based systems, the transistor etc....

          Innovation isn't just the invention of something new (which MS earns millions of patents for a year), but the ability to distribute it to the public in a new way.

          I'll buy this, but only from a business perspective. Microsoft has absolutely innovated in the business market.
          • At some point, even branch points based upon previous work, innovative thinking or novel synthesis of information *must* occur to move concepts and products forward.

            Exactly. While practically no one innovates ex nihilo (after all, all knowledge is based upon some common epistemological necessities), some are more innovative than others. The point being that MS is never at the branch point, but always jumps in as second or third to market when they think the market is mature enough to them. Powerpoint, Excel, Word, MSDOS, Windows, you name it. To be just, though, there are a few exceptions: they're playing first to market with the video player, and are introducing the tablet before the market is mature. The tablet I have more confidence in than the video player or the watch.

            Apple, on the other hand, hasn't innovated much, either, in the sense of wholly new products. Instead, they've concentrated on providing a much better experience for existing product types. The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, but rather the first MP3 player to get it right. If the MS video player has a 3 inch screen, and Apple comes out with one with an 8 inch screen, who's likely to get more sales?

            As for the watch, it has already been pointed out that someone (Seiko) has tried this before and failed. And I for one don't see Microsoft (after all, it's Microsoft, not Microhard) as a device vendor. I think they're stretching the market too much. It looks like they'd rather have Apple's vertical setup, but with Windows' market penetration.

          • Only in the sense of breaking down some of the basic functional requirements of capitalism, by making great strides in obliterating the very existence of diverse markets.

            If you viewed them as a government this would seem nowhere near as unusual. It's similar to some of the more notorious experiments with applied Marxism. If you want to call that business innovation I guess I can't stop you, but I hesitate to even call it business since it's not about functioning in a diverse market environment. It's about establishing and maintaining a 'State Product' in whatever category is being controlled, by suppressing other options. If Microsoft were a government it would be even easier and more direct to do this. They would send their own soldiers and police to punish you, rather than having the BSA send Federal marshals to punish you.

            • Only in the sense of breaking down some of the basic functional requirements of capitalism, by making great strides in obliterating the very existence of diverse markets.

              Oh, I absolutely agree with you. I guess I should have made my sarcasm more obvious.

              but I hesitate to even call it business since it's not about functioning in a diverse market environment. It's about establishing and maintaining a 'State Product' in whatever category is being controlled, by suppressing other options.

              Absolutely. In fact, I have a couple of friends who work at Microsoft in both marketing and programming, and they are completely blinded by anything that does not fit within the Windows paradigm which absolutely must be maintained at all costs. Even to the point of not being able to integrate features or code that does not fit within what marketing dictates. (or repressing/surpressing that code)

              If Microsoft were a government it would be even easier and more direct to do this. They would send their own soldiers and police to punish you, rather than having the BSA send Federal marshals to punish you.

              It's actually hard sometimes to separate where Microsoft does not have influence in government matters. For instance, a number of years ago, I was purchasing a software package for medical office management running in DOS. There were some packaged Microsoft applications with this custom software solution that were obviously pirated and being resold. I called Microsoft to let them know and the next day! two Microsoft employees were at my office *with* an FBI agent asking for access to our computers and software. They were quite nice about it, but I was surprised by the presence of the FBI agent.
      • By your reasoning, you should have abandoned MacOS years ago. The worst OS on the planet by any standard until X came out. Pull the log out of your own eye before you point out twig in someone elses.
    • Microsoft is the butt of many jokes just like IBM + OS/2 once was. Same as FreeBSD. Only the zealots would actually believe it.

      Besides, wouldn't it be funny if your watch actually crashed, or to use your watch, you needed a DRM arm? It's just horse play. No one's eye is going to be taken out.
    • I REALLY hate to see everyone bashing Microsoft every time they attempt something new

      Trouble is: it isn't new. Smart wrist watches are an old idea, as are portable multimedia player boxes.

      Microsoft wouldn't be ridiculed if they came up with something genuinely new, or if they did a really good job reimplementing some known idea. But mediocre copies of other people's ideas just invite ridicule; they'll have to deal with it. Gates can at least laugh all the way to the bank: mediocre copies do sell, after all, as many other companies also show us.

    • MS deserves no break, but perhaps you do.

      Still, since you asked, I still need to maintain MS software. It is still likely that the office will agree to an MS XP license (at which point I will need to quit, even though it is during a recession). So, no, I don't feel like giving MS a break until after they have proved that they deserve one. And probably not until after they have made due restitution to the companies that they have destroyed in a manner that appears to me malicious.
  • 'He said that Apple was thought to be working on a version of the iPod with video ability, but it lost an opportunity to be the first to market when it did not announce the product as some people expected at the Macworld conference on Tuesday.'

    First to market with product or just an announcement? I thought Archos got there first. This sounds like a spoiler against someone about to announce something real. Given the choice of an Archos or a Microsoft Press Release - which would you choose?
  • This type of watch doesn't necessarily seem to be a bad idea. I've been wondering why someone hasn't used the NIST broadcast signals to automatically set watches for some time now. (Does anyone know whether these signals exist somewhere outside the U.S.? It would suck for my watch to start drifting when I leave the country...)

    What impresses me more is that Microsoft expects to be able to have a nationwide digital pager network to push information to these small devices. Unless they have some deals in place that aren't public right now, that will be no small task, even for Microsoft. (Push technology failed in the '90's -- Microsoft seems convinced that it was because information was pushed to your computer, which wasn't as conveinent as your watch...)

    But even if they lose a ton of money on it, they end up with a nationwide digital broadcast network. MS and AOL/TW won't look so different, then. And AOL's content delivery network is a bunch of cable monopolies which are still kind of regulated. Microsoft will likely not actually buy any broadcasting assets, they'll make arrangements with other carriers to carry their data stream. So they won't have to directly deal with regulatory hassles. It's like the whole IBM thing all over again -- Sure, you can make the hardware (or maintain the broadcasting network), as long as we control all the bits!

  • by wackysootroom ( 243310 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:51AM (#5054608) Homepage
    The person modeling the watch will be Christopher Walken.

    I've had this watch up my ass for 3 years while my buddy Bill here has been waiting for the right time to unveil this prototype. The amazng thing is that you can almost still see the display.
  • Ok, well, my previous post got labeled "troll" because I made a remark about watches getting infected with viruses.

    But I guess that my joke was part of another point that I didn't really elaborate: at what point do we really need to incorporate trivial features into *every* single electronic device. I mean, do we really need stock tickers or generic weather reports in our *watches*? Why do our microwaves need an IP address?

    In all seriousness, MS gets bashed for BSODs, viruses, and general instability. A great deal of that comes from trying to make one thing do EVERYthing. Why can't a watch just be ... a watch? I think rather than pack gadgets into everything, elegance sometimes comes from finding the right balance between simplicity and functionality.
  • This is ever-so-slightly OT, but... this is why I come to Slashdot. To see what the smart mfer's think of some new thing.

    Considering the fact that these topics pretty much die off when they near the end of the page, it would be cool to have a zeitgeist/summery of the geek collective in situations like this.

    To wit:

    Microsoft SPOT watch: Lame design. Very limited utility. Possible mind-control plot. Stick with your already-fancy mobile phone.

    See? That way, I could just nod sagely and move on to the next topic....

  • I've always been into cool watches. Haven't seen one that did all I need it to do (beside tell time), and this is as close as it seems to get. Seamless integration with my computer, ability to receive msgs, etc. Unfortunately, it seems to require a "subscription fee":

    [quote]
    The watch will initially be made by Fossil, Citizen and Suunto. The simplest versions will cost less than $150, but the watchmakers will also make much more expensive designs. The watch will require a subscription to a data service, which Microsoft executives said might have a fee of $5 to $12 a month or might be included in the price of some watches.
    [/quote]

    I'm as suspicious of Microsoft as the next guy, but don't be surprised if this actually takes off.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:02AM (#5054697)
    I don't know why Slashdot has posted this story again. I think a far more important announcement to come out of The Consumer Electronics Show is this one [pcworld.com], about Sony and Matsushita developing a version of the Linux operating system for digital consumer electronics devices.

    Lots of Microsoft's recent moves show how important Microsoft now see the electronics sector. Unfortunately, the giants of the electronics world don't seem to want Microsoft to join the party, and there's not much Microsoft can do about it.

    When by far the two largest electronics manufacturers in the world join hands and say the future of multimedia in the home is Linux, personally I wouldn't put money on Microsoft making much of a dent. This is one sector where their PC monopoly won't give them much leverage.

  • And they will name it:

    (tumdadarumtadarum)

    Microsoft(tm) Watch(tm)

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:08AM (#5054755) Homepage
    Microsoft doesn't want to get into the hardware business. It seems their business model is to license the software (at reasonable prices, today, but where do they want to go tomorrow?). Hardware makers license the software and build the hardware. Since the components gradually become readily available due to volume production and competition, hardware makers eventually compete on razor thin margins in a cut throat margin, while in the meantime, Microsoft gradually has been getting a higher and higher cut.

    Does this business model sound familiar?

    If Microsoft is not going to build the hardware, then they need someone else to do it. The someone else needs to realize that they are currently in the position of power. They have the skill and expertise to design and make the cool hardware, they can put whatever software on it that they want.

    Given Microsoft's history of how it treats its partners (Sendo?) or other suppliers (SpyGlass?) I wonder how many savvy hardware companies will be willing to jump into bed with Microsoft, given Microsoft's rep about what they will want once in bed? (Sony & Matsushita, bitter rivals that are jointly developing a Linux platform for consumer electronics and signing up other consumer electronics makers?) I think I see a pattern here. (The PDA market, some use MS, others don't. Will the MS-PDA makers eventually be like the current PC makers, very little product differentiation, thin margins?)

    With the XBox, Microsoft makes the hardware. But they make it out of the same parts as everyone else, and other manufacturers could put together a similar box. And other game console makers offer them real competition.

    At another recent tirade show Microsoft showed a concept for a Microsoft alarm clock. I thought this was the most ill-conceived thing I had ever seen. It had a PDA sized LCD display, probably a similar microprocessor to an expensive MS-PDA, no button on the TOP to silence the alarm when it goes off. How did you activate snoose? Well, you go to this menu, and then do this gui thing... Man when I want to hit snooze, I just want to bang on a big button on top of the clock -- everyone has known this now for 40 years. Once I get up, I no longer want to use my alarm clock to check on the weather, the traffic, etc. I have a PDA for that. I also have an MS-coworker who kept trying to come up with a scenerio where this clock would be useful. In hotels? As a travel clock? (But my argument is that if this clock is basically PDA hardware, any PDA can be your travel alarm clock -- just need a simple application -- not another new device to carry.) I had never seen anything so ill-conceived.

    I have not yet had time to think about how an MS-Watch would be used. One quick observation though is that to do computer like things, you need some minimum threshold of screen real-estate, hence PDA's. Wouldn't it be much more useful to combine all devices into one so you don't need a utility belt to hold all your gadgets? Why doesn't Microsoft have the vision to create a combined Phone / PDA / MP3 Player / Media Player / Camera / GPS Locator and Map / Radio / TV Remote / Gameboy / Voice memo recorder / etc.? If most of the radio is implemented via. DSP code that builds digitally synthesized waveforms for transmission, and the receiver is mostly DSP processing of the RF or IF, then you have a software defined radio, ala GNU radio, and by just putting in software upgrades, you have a handheld color TV receiver, for instance? You think of yet another new application, such as making your gadget a wireless microphone, it has all the right hardware, just put in a software to transmit the sound at right frequency and modulation, and your universal gadget is now a wireless mic. It seems to me that other than the general purpose radio part, some high end PDAs are almost there in having all the right hardware to be a universal gadget.

    Why can't Microsoft think of some of this innovation? (Oh yeah, because a universal gadget running free software doesn't seem to need any upgrade treadmill or force purchase of numerous expensive gadgets.)

    Okay, I'll shut up now.
  • Linux watch (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krishy ( 461184 )
    IBM has this Linux watch [ibm.com] that also blue tooth and all that, but ofcourse I dont think they would tout it out as being production stuff!.
  • All of the watches will have a small, rectangular liquid crystal display and the ability to receive short data messages, much like a pager. This technology will allow the watch to identify where it is and what the local time is -- and the local weather forecast -- as the wearer travels.

    And if they add the ability to run micro Java applications, a phone book, a microbrowser, a picture viewer and midi player, a voice memo recorder and wireless phone capabilities, they'd have invented my PCS Vision phone I already carry around with me. Sure, my cell phone isn't watch-sized, but I don't need some of its features duplicated just cause the device can be on my wrist instead of in my pocket.

    Now the video iPod thing... Would be cool if it could play my DIV3/XViD collection and OGG files, but since it's obviously going to be DRM'ed up the arse, it's just another hard drive MP3 player. Yawn.

    Hey Microsoft, how about taking two bad ideas and combining the two? An MP3 player on a watch... Sorry, Casio already tried that [casio.com].
  • by multipartmixed ( 163409 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:52AM (#5055156) Homepage
    "Sorry I'm late, Boss -- my watch crashed again"
  • Gates says in the article:
    "You will have devices in the home of different screen sizes: wall-sized for a lot of people to watch, desk-sized for doing homework or taxes, and pocket-sized for information you have with you at all times, and watch-sized," he said. "We will make all those work together."
    The point of this move by MS (and this isn't to defend MS, or claim it is original) is to make a move toward distributing computing throughout your home and over your body as nodes of a network. Or (as somebody other than MS likes to say), the network is the computer, so it's one big computer, in your home office, on your wall, in your kitchen, in your TV, on your wrist.

    So is the watch pretty dumb, taken alone? Yes, absolutely. Is this a breakthrough? No. Do I really want Microsoft to control the move toward distributing computing around my while life in this way? No, no, no.

    But do I think that this vision in general is right? Yes. I live in a house with programmable devices that include a VCR, DVD Player, thermostat and even the coffee maker now. I do want these things all integrated, and I don't want computer on my desk to be the only way into this network. In the long run, some sort of wearable option as part of this scheme is absolutely necessary. If this is part of that, and Bill says it is, I get it.

  • i think that we shouuld all hold out for a .net collar that can keep track of where we are and what we are listening to. one convienient package that fits snugly around you neck, that would be the way to go.
  • You can get personalized weather, stocks, news and more for FREE from any number of web portals.

    If you have a wireless ethernet (not mobile ethernet) card in your PDA, you can use a PDA web browser to view the internet for no additional cost (other than your regular ISP costs).

    And microsoft wants to make you pay $5-$12 per month to instead use a watch to do the same thing? I would consider paying that if the watch would be able to roam as widely as a good cell phone, but I cannot see why anyone would pay MS a monthly fee to use their own hardware (computer, residential wireless network or dedicated computer-to-watch wireless router) and their own paid ISP just to use a smaller, wristwatch sized PDA.

    And since it's MS, we can be SURE that the standard used to transmit this simple and common weather/stocks/news information will be proprietary and restricted, so no one can offer the same service for free. I hope a company will develop their own watch with an open data standard, perhaps a XML/miniXSL-based weather/stocks/news data format. This kind of thing could be so good, and so widely accepted, as long as it doesn't have a ridiculous monthly fee.
  • Battery Life? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <jeremyNO@SPAMpavleck.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @12:05PM (#5055257) Homepage Journal
    I had one of those pager watches Slashdot had an article about in early 2000.
    All I remember from it's (short) time on my arm is that it took 3 watch batteries, which died after 30-60days requiring a new set. It was bulky, and it didnt work very well.
    In fact, the only thing I did like is it would synch it's time to wherever I went to, which I really liked.

    I'm afraid that the battery life in the MS watch will be dismal at best, especially processing video and audio.

    I like watches that aren't obtrusive, and have a battery time of over a year using ONE thin battery.

    I dunno about you guys, but I stick with my old watch.
  • "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."
  • It will give me my email, show me sports scores, it has a compass built in, and this 'thing' which tells time...

  • blah blah blah DRM
    blah blah blah EULA
    blah blah blah Big Brother, not-Linux compatible, monopolistic so on and so forth
  • ...But i think MS needs to further its efforts in the HW arena as opposed to the SW arena.

    Call me crazy, but I have not found ( for the price ) a comparable optical mouse on the same level as the Intellimouse Explorer. It seems like MS may have found a niche that they can exploit...

    granted I have no need for a high tech watch, other than the Billabong one I have that has tide information and is waterproof for when the surf is good.....

  • I predict this device will change the world the same way the calculator watch did.

    When the calculator watch came out in 1977, it truly changed the world. No longer would people have to struggle to calculate restaraunt tips, taxes on purchased goods, and their current gas mileage. Today, you'll hardly find anyone without one.
  • If MS's joysticks and mice are any indication (giant sized), these watches will prolly cover my whole forearm...
  • Oh my god with IBMs Linux wrist watch (useless but cool hack) and The Palm Os watch just on the market (simi useful hack) Microsoft yet again has to 'inovate' by copying everyone else.
    This folowing up on Microsofts Pen tops (Tablet PCs) a direct rip from the failed technology of years past.
    Yet they haven't fixed eather of the problems that killed the originals (poor handwriting recognition and expensive) but at least this time they suck less than the original failures than suck more.
    The watchs folow this acutally finding features that you can get on cheaper watches and adding a few more.

    Byond the 007ish novalty of it I doupt there will be much intrest.
    Timex made a watch that stored data it was neat but it needed Windows to work and eventually the novalty wore off.
    Just to expensive.

    Even if thies new watches work with a wider range of systems it's still junk.
    Else every Linux freak would build there own watch. Redhat for watches. etc.

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