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Tag: Windows Phone

Surface Hub Skype Meeting

My Microsoft Surface Hub Review

Last week we finally go our Microsoft Surface Hub for our itnetX office in Bern and I had the chance to do some testing. The Surface Hub is an interactive whiteboard developed by Microsoft ideally for business meetings. Before I get started let me show you the specs for the Surface Hub devices. Microsoft offers two models right now, a 84-inch model and a 55-inch model.

Microsoft Surface Hub

The Surface Hub 84” model is ideal for medium and large conference room and it allows three people to comfortably interact with the screen simultaneously. The 84” version has also a 4K resolution, an Intel i7 processor, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and a NVIDIA Quadra K2200 graphics card. The Surface Hub 55” model is perfect for smaller conference rooms and in work environments where you’ll move your Surface Hub into different spaces. The 55” model comes with a Full HD resolution, an Intel i5 processor, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and integrated Intel graphics.

Surface Hub Keyboard Surface Hub Pen

Both model feature a 100-point multi-touch display, 2 passive Infrared Presence Sensors, Ambient Light Sensors, 2 front-facing stereo speakers, 2 wide angle HD cameras, active pen support, Windows 10 and a wireless keyboard. To see the full specs of both devices check out the Microsoft Surface Hub website.

My first impression of the Surface Hub

Surface Hub Welcome Screen

My first impression was the Surface Hub looks great, it is perfect for every meeting room and it is very easy to use. The quality of the devices is, as usual for Microsoft Surface devices, really great and feels like a high quality premium device. When you come in come in the conference room use first see the big screen and showing the time, the next scheduled meetings and the most important apps like the whiteboard, wireless screen sharing.

Different Meeting Options

Surface Hub Startscreen

The Microsoft Surface Hub offers different meeting options. You can use it for in person meetings in the meeting room as a beamer replacement or wireless display for your notebook, as a whiteboard or use other apps like Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Maps app or many more to come. The other thing the Surface Hub does very well is video conferencing using Skype for Business using the same apps and features.

The Surface Hub works perfectly with different deployment types

Perfect for in-person meetings

Surface Hub Whiteboard

If you are using the meeting room for a meeting with persons in the room, the multi touch screen and the apps are great. I really like the whiteboard app which allows you to draw diagrams and other stuff. A nice feature is that when you take on of the pens out of the holder it automatically open ups the whiteboard app and you can immediately start drawing. You can also use the screen as a display for your notebook as beamer replacement.

Surface Hub Screen Sharing

You can use the screen as a wireless display using Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 10 Mobile and of course the display also features cable input for DisplayPort, HDMI or VGA. If you use the wireless display connection in Windows 10 you can also allow input from the Surface Hub screen back to your Windows 10 computer. For example you project your screen to the Surface Hub to show a PowerPoint slide deck for example, you can stand up and touch the screen for the next slide or draw on the slide it self. By the way, connecting wirelessly is very fast, I used several different devices to connect with my Windows 10 devices using Miracast, like the Xbox One or the Microsoft Wireless Adapter, but none of the devices connected as fast as to the Surface Hub.

 

And of course this also works with other devices supporting Miracast like Windows 10 Mobile (especially cool with the Windows Continuum feature) and for example Android smartphones.

Skype for Business Video Conferencing

Surface Hub Skype for Business

The other great scenario is using the Microsoft Surface Hub for conference calls. You can join Skype for Business Meeting adding the Surface Hub device as a resource and it will automatically show the Skype for Business Meeting and you can join the meeting. You can also just invite other people using sending Skype for Business invites or using phone numbers to call them. You can also add the Surface Hub to an existing Skype for Business meeting or call your Surface Hub using a phone number. The two wide angle Full HD video cameras are great and show the whole meeting room. If there is a single attendee in the room the camera also focus on him and follows him instead of showing the whole room.

Surface Hub Wireless Display 1

The great thing here is that you again can use the same features and apps like the whiteboard, screen sharing and the apps. For example one scenario can be that several people sitting in the meeting room and one of the shares the screen to the Surface Hub, the Surface Hub is joined to a Skype for Business meeting with some remote attendees. The screen of the Surface Hub, showing the screen of the notebook of attendee in the meeting room is also shared with the Skype for Business remote attendees. Or you can see the screen sharing or presentation of remote attendees.

Surface Hub Call Skype User

The most important thing here is, that is very easy and simple to use and it just works as expected. It looks like we are getting now more Surface Hubs for all the different office locations, so we can do meetings between the office in Bern and Zürich.

Cleaning up a meeting

Surface Hub Cleanup

Now setting up a meeting or joining a meeting is really simple, and basically everything is possible. But what after the meeting is finished? You can very simple clean up your workspace and everything is gone, and no one can access your data.

Apps for the Surface Hub

Surface Hub Apps

As mentioned the Surface Hub comes with different apps like the whiteboard which lets you also do drawings, Office which lets you to use office documents like Word, Excel or PowerPoint and you also have the Maps app and the Microsoft Edge browser available. The Apps for the Surface Hub seem to be limited right now, but my guess is that Microsoft will soon enable the Windows Store to let you download and install apps on the Surface Hub. Microsoft has some example of apps on there Surface Hub website.

You can open Office documents from SharePoint, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online using Office 365 or connected USB devices directly from the Surface Hub, or you can share them from your notebook using screen sharing.

Overall Impression

The Surface Hub is an amazing device and we are very happy with the it, the device is great, works very easy and simple and it adds a lot of value to your meetings. If you ever have done a meeting using the Surface Hub you really want to have one for your self. If you have more question about the Surface Hub and his features and functionality just leave a comment.

 



Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

First Impressions of the new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL – Microsoft did not compromise

For the past year I was using the Nokia Lumia 930 and the Lumia 1520 and I was really waiting for a new Windows Phone flagship. Microsoft finally released the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL last week in several countries including Switzerland. I am one of the lucky few, who got one last Friday and had the chance to test it over the weekend.

Lumia 950 Lumia 950 XL

First of all I was using Windows 10 Mobile for a while on my Lumia 930 and the Lumia 1520, so there are not a lot of surprise for me here. I a really like Windows 10 Mobile, it still looks a lot like the first Windows Phone 7 and 8 versions but it looks a little bit cleaner and more mature. Especially the built-in apps like Mail, Calendar, People, Office and the MSN apps go a total redesign and a lot of new features.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL and Surface Book

So here are some of my first impressions of the device:

First thing you notice the device feels and looks, like a lot of the recent Microsoft devices, a like a high quality premium device, and Microsoft did not compromise on features. You basically get everything you ever wanted in a device.

  • You get a amazing 5,7-Zoll-Quad-HD AMOLED ClearBlack Display (2560 x 1440 Pixel and 518 ppi) which just looks gorgeous.
  • You get one of the fastest mobile processors out there: the Snapdragon 810 Octa-Core 2,0 GHz. With that Windows 10 Mobile
  • One of the greatest thing about the Lumia Smartphones always were the cameras. Especially since the Lumia 1020 you always had a great camera. And with the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL you definitely get a perfect mobile phone camera. For me the camera of my mobile phone is very important since I take my mobile everywhere and take pictures with it. The camera of the Lumia 950 XL is just amazing, especially in difficult low light situations. If you are looking for a phone with an absolutely great camera you should definitely have a look at the latest Lumias. The main camera is a 20.0 MP, Auto focus with two-stage capture key, 6-lens optics, aperture: f/1.9, Backside-illuminated image sensor, PureView, True 16:9 sensor, Fast Focus, High resolution zoom and 4K Video support. For the front-facing camera you get a Full HD 5 MP wide angle camera with a aperture: f/2.4, perfect for selfies.
  • You get also the following features:
    • Glance Screen
    • Wireless charging
    • Fast charging
    • Replaceable battery (3340 mAh)
    • 32GB internal Memory
    • Micro-SD card support
    • 3GB of RAM
    • USB-C 3.1 connector
    • Great antenna technology
    • Dual SIM option
    • Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Barometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, SensorCore
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 4
    • Super sensitive touch display
    • Bluetooth 4.1
    • NFC: Pairing, Secure NFC for payment, Sharing, Tagging
    • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO, Wi-Fi call
    • Wi-Fi hotspot: Up to 8 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
    • AV connectors: 3.5 mm stereo headset connector, DisplayPort over USB-C
    • and a lot more…
  • You also get the full Microsoft Office suite with OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Which is great especially if you are using it to edit your documents or present it to other on the go.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows Continuum 3

  • Windows 10 Continuum: One of the biggest new features of Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 Continuum let’s you connect your phone to a bigger screen and use it as a light Windows 10 desktop together with a keyboard and mouse. You can use Continuum using the Continuum dock or wireless. Unfortunately I don’t have Display Dock right now, so I could only test Continuum using the wireless connection using my Xbox One which worked great. You can also use the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter to connect your phone and use it with Windows 10 Continuum. Right now Windows 10 Continuum only Windows 10 Universal apps, like Mail, Calendar, Photos, Office and others. If you think about this feature, this is something Windows 10 can really be unique and may replace a computer for some people and employees out there.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows Hello

  • Another very cool Windows 10 feature is Windows Hello. This is also included in the desktop version of the OS and it allows you to login using fingerprints, face recognition or in the case of the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL Iris face recognition. You just have to press your the power on button and the camera try to recognize your iris, and if it can, it will log you in, without the need of a PIN or password.

I think, with the Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft didn’t compromise on anything here. Microsoft just built a phone with all the features people requested. I really like the phone, the new Windows 10 features like Continuum and especially the camera.

Here a picture of the Lumia 930, Lumia 950 and the Lumia 1520:

Lumia 930 950 1520

I also got the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard which is a perfect companion to your Microsoft Lumia 950 with Windows 10 Continuum :

 

 

 

 



Surface Book

Microsoft just announced some awesome Devices

Microsoft just announced some awesome devices at their Windows 10 Devices event in New York. Here is a quick list of the devices Microsoft announced today:

HoloLens

HoloLens

First they showed HoloLens and showed how gaming could look like with HoloLens. Microsoft announced that, the HoloLens Development Editions will be available in Q1 2016 for $3000. Developers can now apply for their HoloLens Developer Editions.

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

Next up, Microsoft showed the new version of the Microsoft Band, which will be connected to Microsoft Health. The new Microsoft Band 2 comes with a new curved and improved AMOLED screen, it has a battery life of 48 hours, is charged in 1.5 hours and has all the great features the first version of the Microsoft Band already had, like activity tracking, sleep tracking, notifications, GPS and much more. It now also comes with barometer and Cortana integration.

  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer/gyro
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capactive sensor
  • Galvanic skin response
  • Microphone
  • Barometer

Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft announced two new Windows Phones or Windows 10 Mobile flagship devices. Finally there is a new Windows Phone flagship which brings amazing features and specs. The Lumia 950 has a 5.2 inch Quad HD and the Lumia 950 XL has a 5.7 inch Quad HD screen. Both phones come with a 20MP PureView camera with Triple LED Natural Flash, UBS-C Type Connector and Fast Charging support which will charge your phone in 30 minutes to 50%. Using a small dock, you can hock up the phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, this lets you run Windows Universal Apps like on a PC. Here some more specs and highlights:

Both phones have:

  • Windows 10
  • Camera: 20.0 MP, Natural flash
  • Front-facing Camera: Full HD 5MP wide angle
  • Display: WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • 32GB Mass Memory
  • 200GB SD Card slot (up to 2TB)
  • 4G LTE
  • Touchscreen technology: Super sensitive touch
  • Exchangeable back cover
  • Glance screen
    Tactile feedback
    Voice commands
  • Nano SIM
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC (Pairing, Secure NFC payment, sharing, tagging)
  • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Support for Windows Hello
  • Glance Screen
  • Wireless Charging
  • Fast Charging
  • Continuum for Phones

Lumia 950

 Lumia 950

  • Screen: 5.2 ”, WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808 , Hexa core , 1800 MHz

Lumia 950 XL

Lumia 950 XL

  • Screen: 5.7 ”, WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 , Octa core , 2000 MHz

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

Microsoft announced the successor of the Surface Pro 3. The new Surface Pro 4 has kind of the same dimension as the Surface Pro 3 but comes with a 12.3” PixelSense display has extremely high contrast and low glare, giving you a picture rivaling real life. It is not only more powerful and lighter than ever before at 1.69lbs (766 grams) and with with a 6th Gen Intel® Core™ M3, i5, and i7 processors, it’s also quieter and runs cooler than ever before. It will also support a new pen and display technology which is called PixelSense.

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • TPM Chip
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ M3, i5, or i7
  • Memory: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
  • Graphics: M3: Intel® HD graphics 515, i5: Intel® HD graphics 520, i7: Intel® Iris™ graphics
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Size: 11.50″ x 7.93″ x 0.33″ (292.10mm x 201.42mm x 8.45mm)
  • Weight: M3: 1.69lbs (766 grams), i5: 1.73lbs (786 grams), i7: 1.73lbs (786 grams)
  • Ports: Full-size USB 3.0
    microSD™ card reader
    Headset jack
    Mini DisplayPort
    Cover port
    SurfaceConnect
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
  • Support for Windows Hello (using Iris Scanner)

Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

Along with the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft also announced the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover in two versions, one without fingerprint reader and one with a fingerprint reader which can be used with the Surface Pro 3. The new Type Cover should have highly improved keys and a larger trackpad. It is also backlit and it is lighter and thinner than the last version.

Surface Pro Docking Station

Surface Dock

Surface Dock instantly transforms your ultraportable Surface into a desktop PC. Simply plug in the SurfaceConnect cable to charge your device and access external monitors, a keyboard, mouse, and more. With two high-definition video ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, and an audio output, you have all the connections you need. It also works with the Surface Pro 3 and the SurfaceBook.

Surface Book

Surface Book

The “one more thing” Microsoft announced today and which really surprised everybody was the Surface Book. The Surface Bookisthe first full laptop has arrived in the Surface family. Surface Book is a powerful laptop with a full sized, backlit keyboard for fast and natural typing. The 13.5” PixelSense display detaches easily from the keyboard to become a thin, light tablet that works perfectly with OneNote and Surface Pen. Turn the screen around and reattach it to use Surface Book like a creative canvas. By reconnecting it to the keyboard, you unlock its full creative power in a pen first mode. Surface Book is built to be a creative workhorse. Combining a 6th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with up to 16GB of memory and an optional discrete graphics chip.

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • TPM chip
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. SSD
  • Graphics: i5: Intel® HD graphics 520 / i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Processor
  • Screen: 13.5” PixelSense™ display Resolution: 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) Aspect ratio: 3:2 Touch: 10 point multi-touch
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE802.11a/b/g/n compatible Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Size: 12.30” x 9.14” x 0.51 – 0.90” (312.3mm x 232.1mm x 13.0 – 22.8mm)
  • Weight: Starting at 3.34 pounds (1,516 grams) including keyboard
  • Ports: Two full-size USB 3.0
    Full-size SD™ card reader
    SurfaceConnectTM
    Headset jack
    Mini DisplayPort
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
  • Support for Windows Hello

As far as I can see there is a lot of good feedback and Microsoft really announced some great devices.



Xbox Music

12 reasons to use Xbox Music

This week Apple launched their own music streaming service called Apple Music to compete with others like Spotify and other services. One service which is not really known by the public is Microsoft Xbox Music, which is not only a streaming service but also has a bunch of other features as well.

The all-in-one music service

Xbox Music allows you to buy songs and albums or subscribe to Xbox Music Pass for unlimited access all your devices. Xbox Music is the only service that brings you millions of songs to discover, stream, download and own for your tablet, PC, Xbox phone, and the Web. It’s all the music you love, every way you want it

Xbox Music Pass

Xbox Music Pass

With Xbox Music Pass, get unlimited access to millions of songs. Stream or download as much as you like. Listen on your PC, tablet, phone, Xbox, and on the web. The Xbox Music Pass costs $9.99/Month and comes with a 30 days free trial.

Xbox Music Pass Features

Music across all your devices

Xbox Music Andorid Xbox Music iOS

Xbox Music works on your PC, tablet, Xbox 360, Xbox One, the web, and your phone, including Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices.

Sync all your playlists across your devices

Using the Xbox Music service does sync all your playlists on all your devices over the air. No more syncing devices using cables.

Offline Available

You can not only stream songs to your devices, you can also download them to listen offline. This is perfect when you are on a plane or somewhere where you don’t have internet access.

Stream your own music from OneDrive

Xnox Music OneDrive

With Xbox Music and OneDrive you can stream your own music you already own on every device directly from OneDrive. Just upload your songs to the OneDrive Music folder and they will be available on all your devices.

Xbox Music Webplayer

Xbox Music Web Player

If you are not using your own computer, or you have a device where Xbox Music isn’t installed, you can simply logon to the Xbox Music Web Player to play songs in the web browser. This is perfect when you are the your friends computer and want to play some of your favorite playlists.

Radio Stations

If you like a song or an artists and you want to discover similar music you can simply use the Radio feature, which creates custom stations based on the artists you love.

My Music

Xbox Music not only works with streamed songs, it also manages music on your local devices as well. Easily manage and play all of the music from your collection right in the Xbox Music app, including songs purchased from iTunes or other services, playlists created with Xbox Music, or albums ripped from CD’s.

Xbox Music Store

The Xbox Music Store gives you 24/7 access to one of the largest music catalogs on the planet with over 18 million songs. Buy full albums or just your favorite songs.

Unlimited skipping

With an Xbox Music Pass subscription, enjoy unlimited skipping when listening to radio stations.

Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile

Xbox Music Universal App 2

With Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, launches a new cool Universal Windows App for all your Windows devices.

 

 



What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2015

In a couple of hours I will catch my flight to Chicago with the rest of the itnetx team to join Microsoft Ignite 2015. I am really looking forward to it and meet other enthusiast around Microsoft Cloud solutions and of course meeting with members of the Microsoft Product Group.

What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

  • My main devices is of course the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which I use as my 3-in-1 device, replacing my notebook, tablet and desktop using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. Of course it is running the latest Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview. Battery life I get is around 8 hours depending on what I am doing I get even some more.
  • As my day to day phone I use the Nokia Lumia 930, which is just a perfect device with a great camera to take picture from the place I travel to and listen to music.
  • Even I like the track pad of the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover I think I am more productive using a mouse. For that I got the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition.
  • I also got some Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Audio Headphones to listen to music. I really like them because the audio is great and they are really light and comfortable to wear and the active noise canceling works just great, especially on long flights. The integrated microphone is also pretty important to to Lync or Skype for Business calls.
  • When I am at a hotel and I am working or writing some blog post I love to listen to music. For that I use the Nokia MD-12 wireless Bluetooth speaker.
  • To get some extra power if I need it I use the Nokia DC-18 portable Micro USB Charger and a Microsoft Portable Power DC-21.
  • Of course I am also carrying the Microsoft Band which helps me tracks the steps I walk during Microsoft Ignite and the limited sleep I get during this event.
  • For presentations I got a Microsoft Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA adapter as well as the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter which acts as a Miracast Receiver and is great for presentations.
  • I also carry a USB 3.0, but I don’t use a portable hard drive anymore, since I got unlimited storage space on my OneDrive using Office 365.
  • You might think to charge all these devices I need a lot of different power adapters, well that’s not really true. I just use power adapter of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which also has a USB port for charging the phone, speaker and other stuff.

I am really looking forward to Ignite and meet some of you in Chicago.



Microsoft Band

My Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health User Review

Back in November I finally got my Microsoft Band after spending a lot of time try to find one in different stores in the US. Since then I have used my Microsoft Band every day and I was waiting for the first big update and the release of the Microsoft Health Dashboard to write my first review on the Microsoft Band since the web dashboard was one of the most critical and most important feature for the Microsoft Health platform. Yesterday Microsoft finally released the first major update to the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health with a lot of improvements such as the new Health Dashboard and a Developer SDK Preview.

I was reading a lot of reviews from different only magazines which were trying to review the device, but in my opinion have never really used it or are just wearing some Apple glasses. Let me try to review some of the features of the Microsoft Band and how I use them a little bit differently from the professional reviewers. Of course since I am focusing a lot on the Microsoft platform I am not really neutral, as Swiss people normally are, but I try to give you a good review on the product.

What is the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health

Microsoft Health Cloud

When I was reading some of the reviews done by professionals, I really saw that they didn’t really get the point of the device. Microsoft is advertising the Microsoft Band a fitness band and not as a smartwatch, even the Microsoft Band got a lot of smartwatch features, which by the way are really good, it is a fitness tracker which helps you to collected more and more health data about yourself. The devices was made my some “fitness geeks” inside the Xbox division and what they in my opinion did, was creating a device for themselves. And this is why the Microsoft Band actually an absolutely great device, because it is made from people with passion and not from a marketing research team. As mentioned this is a fitness tracker but of course with some really great smartphone features.

The Microsoft Health platform on the other site is where all your health information collected come together. The platform is not only made for the Microsoft Band but for other vendors as well which can integrate into the Microsoft Health platform. Since I am using the Microsoft Band I started wondering why I didn’t use a device or service like this earlier. We collect so much data about our environments but we do not really measure our health data and try to understand it. With Microsoft Health and the sync to the Microsoft HealthVault you can now get all your health data in one place. I also bought a Fitbit Aria smart scale which sends information about my daily weight to the Microsoft HealthVault. With the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Health platform as well as the HealthVault I can now collect all my Health information and analyze them in one place.

Fitness Tracker and Workouts

Microsoft Health Dashboard Calories Observations

The most important feature of the Microsoft Band is to measure your fitness and health. The Microsoft Band comes with a lot of sensors and functionality to measure your health, and it shows you have active you were. With the Microsoft Band you can keep track of different kinds of workouts such as running, cycling or just general workouts. I use it a lot when I play badminton to keep track of my heart rate and calories burned. All the data gets synced to the Microsoft Health platform so you can review it on your Microsoft Health apps on Windows Phone, Apple iOS, Android or on the new Microsoft Health Dashboard.

  • 24-hour heart rate monitor: Gives you a better understanding of your calorie burn, sleep patterns, and peak and resting heart rate so you can perform at your best.
  • Run: Whether you’re on the treadmill at the gym or outdoors in the rain or sun, you can view your run summary on your band with personalized metrics in the phone app including pace splits and heart rate.
  • Cycling: With the latest update Microsoft supports now a specific mode for cycling, which not only keeps track of your heart rate and calories but also on speed and your route using GPS.
  • Steps: Set a goal and track your progress. Microsoft Band calculates the calories you’ve burned and the distance you’ve traveled each day.
  • Built-in GPS: Measures the distance you’ve run and tracks your pace and route. Save your favorites to retrace your steps and challenge yourself later.
  • Calorie tracking: Count the calories you burn each day. View daily or weekly stats, set goals, and receive a virtual “high-five” when you reach them.
  • Guided Workouts: Fun and challenging workouts from fitness partners like Gold’s Gym, Shape, and Men’s Fitness with exercise prompts on the band and much more in the app.
  • Goal setting: Challenge yourself by setting daily step and calorie goals. Microsoft Band notifies you when you meet them so that you can stay motivated.
  • UV monitor: Get a quick read of the UV Index while you’re out and about.

Sleep Tracker

Microsoft Health Dashboard Sleep Summary

I think one of the coolest and most interesting features is the sleep tracker. When you are going so sleep you just start the “sleep mode” and the Microsoft Band will check how long it took you to fall asleep, who long you slept, how many times and when you did wake up, how your heart rate was during that time, if you were in restful or just light sleep. So you can really find out how good or bad you sleep and probably can try different things to change your sleep behavior.

Smartwatch features

Microsoft Band Smartwatch

As I wrote before, Microsoft is advertising the Microsoft Band as a fitness band and not really as a Smartwatch, but it really is a Smartwatch and I think was one of the smartest moves in the whole campaign. When I hear the word smartwatch I always think about gadgets which will replace our old school watches and I don’t think this will happen in the short term. Probably this is because I am Swiss but I think watches are not just some gadgets to show you some time, they are more kind of personal jewelry. Don’t get me wrong I am not just talking about expensive watches, even cheap watches can be jewelry and help express yourself. I am not saying that we won’t use smartwatches, because for some scenarios they really make your life easier, but I think they will be more of an addition to our watches we already have, instead of replacing them. For example on my right arm I wear a normal Swiss watch and on the left arm I wear the Microsoft Band where I had my Nike Fuelband before. So form a marketing perspective I like the word and the concept of additional “bands” a lot more, than thinking about smartwatches replacing our existing watches. But this is just my personal opinion.

The Microsoft Band comes with a lot of smartwatch features:

  • Text Messaging: Get your text messages right on your wrist.
  • Calls: See incoming call and voicemail notifications on your band.
  • Calendar: Microsoft Band stays in sync with the calendar on your phone, reminding you of important events throughout the day so you can be where you need to be.
  • Email: Monitor and preview email activity right on your band, so you don’t have to pull out your phone in the middle of your lunch date.
  • Smart notifications: Choose which alerts you get on your wrist. Change the notification settings on your phone and your Microsoft Band will match.
  • Watch mode: Turn on “Watch Mode” to always display today’s time and date without pressing any buttons.
  • Facebook & Facebook Messenger: Stay up to date on Facebook without having to check your phone. Get the latest posts, comments, photo notifications, and personal messages on your band.
  • Twitter: Tweets, mentions, retweets, messages, new followers. Set your preferences on your phone and see it all on your wrist.
  • Cortana: If you’re using Windows Phone 8.1, you can take notes and set reminders with your voice using Cortana personal assistant.
  • Weather: Get real-time weather conditions and a 5-day forecast to plan your week.
  • Finance: Create a watch list for select stocks in your Microsoft Health app. View the latest ticker activity right on your wrist.
  • Starbucks: No need to reach for your wallet. Enjoy coffee on the go with your Starbucks card ready to scan at arm’s length.
  • Timer & Stopwatch: Time your laps or your entire workout with the stopwatch. Set alarms to wake up silently or remind you to go for a run.
  • Do-not-disturb mode: Tap the icon on your band to turn all notifications off.

The features are great and they are not just here, they are well optimized for a device on your arm wrist. In my daily life I only use some of the features which are integrated. For example I really like the notifications you get from calls, messengers and text messages. For example if I receive a call during a meeting with a client, I can quickly check my wrist and see if the call is important or not and I can quickly answer it with a text message for example “I will call you back”, or just press it away, without having to take the smartphone out of my pocket. Another feature I like is the Cortana integration. Cortana on your Windows Phone knows when your next meeting or flight is and helps you keep track of that by reminding you to leave to catch the flight or meeting. Another use case I use the Microsoft Band a lot is when I login to somewhere using Two-factor authentication, where I get a security code send as text message, which I can now see on my wrist without using my smartphone.

Overall I like the smartwatch features which are integrated but they are not my primary use case for the Microsoft Band or any smartwatch, since there are a lot of things a lot easier to do when you are using your smartphone.

Design and Hardware

Microsoft Band

Let’s talk hardware and design. Well Microsoft did a great job fitting all these sensors inside the Microsoft Band, but of course adding so many sensors make the thing look bulky and the flat screen should be probably replaced with a curved screen. But basically that is all the criticism I have for the hardware design. The weight is absolutely okay and if you have used other fitness tracker before it makes not a difference. Microsoft promises around two days of battery life, for me it is most of the time even more. This is okay but of course I have used the first version of the Nike Fuelband which I had to charge every 4 weeks in average, and I thought charging my band every two days would be hard, but it wasn’t. Since the Microsoft Band only takes a couple of minutes to charge the first 80% this is enough, so I charge it during the time I take a shower.

Software

Microsoft Band Windows Phone App

With software comes all the beauty to the platform. Microsoft offers the Microsoft Health App to sync your Microsoft Band with your phone and with the Microsoft Health Cloud for Windows Phone, Android and iOS. In my opinion the app is great and helps you quickly find things. Of course the app wasn’t the best place to make long term analytics, but for this you have the new released Microsoft Health Dashboard in the web.

Microsoft Health Dashboard

Microsoft Health Dashboard Steps Summary

We had to wait for that, but Microsoft finally released the Microsoft Health Dashboard yesterday. The Microsoft Health Dashboard app is a web console if you will, where you get all the information coming from the Microsoft Band. You have different kind of views to view a specific day, week or month and compare your data. You can get a simple view of the steps and workouts you made or even an overview about your sleep behavior.

Microsoft HealthVault

As mentioned the Microsoft HealthVault is where all your health information comes together. Microsoft HealthVault is a trusted place for people to gather, store, use, and share health information online. Since the latest update you can now setup Microsoft Health to sync data directly to the HealthVault. For me the HealthVault becomes more and more interesting especially if I try to get more data in there such was weight information. For this I bought a Fitbit Aria Smartscale which uploads data to the HealthVault.

Availability

The Microsoft did lunch the Microsoft Band back in November 2014 without a big announcement. Microsoft just released it and made it available in the Microsoft stores months before the Apple Watch will be available. Unfortunately there are two problems, first of all the Microsoft Band is only available in the US and even there it is still hard to get since it is most of the time out of stock. You have to get on some waiting lists and wait to finally get it. One the software site Microsoft released the Microsoft Health app for basically all the mayor smartphone platforms such as Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Feature Requests

I am pretty happy with the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health, but of course I have some ideas and wishes for future releases.

  • Platforms – Microsoft has now several Health Platforms and apps, such as Microsoft Health, MSN Health, HealthVault and Xbox fitness, to just count a few. It would be great if they would move MSN Health and Xbox Fitness to the Microsoft Health platform.
  • Xbox integration – As mentioned, on your Xbox One you get Xbox Fitness, which is btw great especially if you are using Kinect. Microsoft should make Microsoft Health available over all platforms and integrate the in a single data store.
  • Friends – It would be great if you could add friends using the Microsoft Health to compete with them in workouts or other goals.
  • Badges and Competitions – Would be great if Microsoft would build something like an award system for the Health platform, so you get awarded for workouts and more.
  • Hardware – Even I like my first version Microsoft Band, it would be cool to have a v2 which has kind of a more improved design.
  • More Hardware – It would also be great if Microsoft also offers other products, such as smartscale and other health related gadgets.

Conclusion

Microsoft did a great job with the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health. They not just created a cool gadget, they really created a product which helps people tracking their health and get more productive. I have used other trackers before like the first version of the Nike Fuelband and I also bought some Fitbit stuff for my parents, since Fitbit is available in German language. I have to say that I totally get the best experience in features and usability with the Microsoft Band, it is easy to use and configure and it shows you the information you need in optimized way.