Microsoft may dump Band fitness trackers as it backs away from hardware

Microsoft is backing away from another consumer hardware line: the Microsoft Band. But the software behind it will continue.

We’ve never been huge fans of Microsoft’s Band devices, but the fitness wearable does have a dedicated fan base. Unfortunately for its boosters, the Band 2 may be Microsoft’s final fitness tracker as the company continues to scale back its ambitions as a hardware company.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft has no plans to roll out a new Band in 2016, according to sources. On top of that, Foley says there was a group inside Microsoft trying to get Band hardware to run Windows 10 instead of custom firmware. That group has since been disbanded.

Anyone holding out hope for a Band 3 during Microsoft’s expected October devices event probably shouldn’t get their hopes up. Microsoft introduced the Band 2 in October 2015.

When pushed for a comment on the future of Band devices, a Microsoft spokesperson told Foley it will “continue to invest and innovate in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices.” The company also said it will continue to sell the Band 2, and is “deeply committed” to wearables as a market.

That reaction’s very similar to what Microsoft has said about Windows 10 Mobile. The company currently shows no interest in producing its own phones. Microsoft says it will continue iterating the software, but is leaving it up to third-party manufacturers to carry the Windows 10 Mobile banner. Similarly the platform behind the Band—Microsoft Health—will continue, but it seems other companies will have to build hardware around it.

The story behind the story: Microsoft is slowly retreating from the hardware strategy that began under former CEO Steve Ballmer. The Nadella-era Microsoft has backed away from phones, killed a so-called Surface Mini that was reportedly “awesome,” and now the Band experiment is ending. Even the Xbox is morphing from a major piece of consumer hardware into a platform that extends across PCs and consoles—largely via Xbox Live and the new Xbox Play Anywhere strategy.

This change is not necessarily a bad thing. Save for Windows 10 Mobile fans left with the bitter taste of abandonment, the Microsoft ecosystem appears to be better off focused on platforms and services.

Devices won’t entirely disappear from Microsoft, however. It seems unlikely Microsoft would give up on the business-friendly Surface lineup of tablets and laptops, but the company doesn’t appear to be eager for further experiments in consumer hardware—at least for now.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftfitness trackers

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?