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Microsoft Reportedly Developing Smartwatches

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Microsoft (MSFT) is reportedly busy working on a smartwatch of its own. Based on Windows 8, the new wrist computer will rely heavily on Microsoft's Surface touchscreen technology. But, it won't be the first time Microsoft bet on connected watches.

Back in 2004, Microsoft introduced what it called the "SPOT" watch, which stood for "Smart Personal Object Technology." The digital device was able to receive (but not transmit) information via embedded signals broadcast by local FM radio station, items such as news, weather, stock market quotes and sports scores. The same technology was also developed for use in alarm clocks and electric coffee makers. They were made by Fossil (FOSL), Tissot, Swatch and Suunto sold for upwards of $200. The wireless service was extra - $10/month or $40/year. Demand for both the watches and the service was limited. Microsoft stopped marketing the watches in 2008 and finally killed the MSN Direct wireless service on January 1, 2012.

The new watches, however, should be very different. According to various industry reports, Microsoft's next generation of watches will run on a version of the Windows 8 operating system and will employ technologies similar to what is packed inside the company's Surface tablets. The devices may also connect to computer sources via Wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Microsoft isn't the only company said to be working on smartwatches. Apple (AAPL) is reportedly busy with an iWatch device of its own.

Sony (SNE) is already marketing what it calls its Android-compatible "SmartWatch" which allows users to download apps from the Google (GOOG) Play store. The Sony currently sells for $130 on Amazon.com. Samsung, which once marketed a MP3/watch of their own, is also rumored to be working on a modern-day wrist computer.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Stock quotes in this article: MSFT, FOSL, AAPL, SNE, GOOG 
Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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