Posey's Tips & Tricks

A Microsoft Band 2 Wish List

While Microsoft may want to promote its smartwatch like it should be, it's a solid device that looks to be much improved with its second version.

I have never made any secret of the fact that I love my Microsoft Band. My favorite thing about the Band is that it allows me to keep up with my texts and e-mails without looking at my phone. When a new message arrives, the Band vibrates to get my attention and displays a preview of the message. I can see at a glance whether the message is spam or if it is something that requires my attention.

The one thing that I have never understood about the Band is why Microsoft doesn't seem to promote it. I can't seem to recall ever seeing even a single advertisement for the Band. The Band is a great product, and yet Microsoft is steadily losing market share because most people don't even know that Microsoft makes a smartwatch. I have actually had people to approach me in the airport and ask if I was wearing the Apple watch.

Some on the Internet claim that the reason for this is that the Band was intended to be a proof-of-concept device rather than a real product, but I have never known Microsoft to sell proof-of-concept devices to consumers. Besides, the Band has the look and feel of a consumer-grade device -- not a prototype.

Earlier in the month, Microsoft announced the second-generation Band device in a somewhat quiet fashion. Given the way that Microsoft has neglected to advertise their first-generation Band, it's tempting to ask whether this announcement even mattered.

There are a few different reasons why Microsoft's Band 2 release is important. First, the Band 2 will be powered by Windows 10 IoT. This will be a good opportunity for Microsoft to prove the merits of Windows 10 powered devices.

The second reason why Band 2 matters is because Microsoft has had about a year to learn from their experiences with the first Band device. It will be interesting to see what changes they make in the new release and how the finished device stacks up to competing devices.

So far Microsoft has been relatively tight lipped about the new devices, even during last week's announcement.  With that said, here is my wish list for the new device from someone who actually likes Microsoft's smartwatch device:

A curved screen: (Already confirmed) The original Band had a flat screen. The screen initially felt really awkward to wear, but I have gotten used to it over time. A curved screen would not only feel more natural to wear, but it could also potentially allow Microsoft to equip the device with a larger display.

A more durable exterior:  If you had asked me about the Band's quality six weeks ago, I would have told you that it was great. I bought my Band on the first day that it was offered, and it has held up well for nearly a year. Within the last month however, some of the rubber has begun to peel and I have some scratches on my screen. Keep in mind that I tend to be a little bit rough on watches, so I take full responsibility for the abuse. Still, it would be great if the Band were a bit more durable.

Waterproof: I spend a lot of time swimming in the pool, in the lake behind my house, and in the ocean. It's kind of a pain to have to remove my Band every time I go swimming. Several years back I trashed a Windows Phone device because I forgot to take it out of my pocket when I jumped off of my boat to take a swim. I just know that sooner or later I am going to forget to remove my Band before a swim.

Better support for gym exercise: The first-generation Band counts your steps and it can also track your workouts. However, I have found that while the step counter and the calorie counter work really well for outdoor exercise, they don't work so well for exercising in the gym. Admittedly, my Band fits more loosely than it probably should and that may be part of the problem. However, I have noticed that when I run on an elliptical my step count, calorie count, and distance count (as reported by the device) are wildly unpredictable.

Finally, and this is the big one, I would like to see the Band 2 live up to its full potential as a Windows device. Yes, I know that is a really vague statement, but please indulge me for a second. As I said at the beginning of this article, the first-generation Band is great. Sure, there are a few things that could be improved, but that doesn't change the fact that I find it to be tremendously useful in my day-to-day life. So what do I mean when I say that I would like to see the Band 2 live up to its full potential as a Windows device? Well, I would like to see Band 2 evolve into an even better smartphone companion.

When I was researching the Band 2 in preparation for writing this article, I stumbled onto a Web site that showed some incredible pictures of what I at first thought was the Band 2. As it turns out, the page wasn't actually a Microsoft page, but rather a page where someone was introducing their ideas for the Band 2 user interface. As such, the pictures are not an indication of what we can expect from Band 2, but they show what could theoretically be possible while also delivering a big wow factor. You can check out the page here.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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