Microsoft roundup: Smartwatch, Windows 9, Windows Phone

Microsoft's (MSFT) rumored smartwatch will contain 11 sensors and sport "a slim band design that is said to resemble a thinner, flatter version of the Nike FuelBand," a source tells Tom's Hardware.

The device is also said to be iOS/Android-friendly - Forbes previously reported something similar - and to (curiously) have a display "on the inside of the wrist as opposed to the outside." An October launch is targeted.

Google showed off its Android Wear smartwatch platform last week at I/O - Samsung, LG, and Motorola are among the initial backers - and Apple is widely expected to launch an iWatch (or two) this fall. Wear only works with Android devices for now, and Apple has a long history of limiting support for non-Apple hardware.

ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley reports the next major version of Windows - codenamed Threshold, expected to be called Windows 9 - will "look and work differently based on hardware type," in order to appease keyboard/mouse users unhappy with Win. 8's changes. The traditional Windows desktop UI will be placed "front and center" on regular PCs; 2-in-1 devices will switch between desktop and Metro modes, and phones/tablets will be Metro-only.

As indicated at the BUILD conference, the Start menu will return, replete with embedded live tiles, and users will be able to run Metro-style apps in desktop windows. A public preview is expected this fall ahead of a spring 2015 launch.

Kantar Worldpanel's numbers (.pdf) for the March-May period suggest Windows Phone continues to struggle in the U.S. (3.8% smartphone share, -90 bps Y/Y), China (0.6% share, -240 bps), and Japan (1.4% share, +90 bps). It's faring a little better in the top 5 EU markets (8.1% share, +100 bps).

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