Thursday, January 08, 2004 Microsoft's Latest, Strapped to a Wrist Microsoft's Latest, Strapped to a Wrist "For Microsoft's designers, making all of this simple to use could not have been easy. Consider the crudeness of the canvas: a black-and-white screen, composed of only 120 pixels by 96 pixels. No color, not even shades of gray; no room for menus, buttons or borders; no mouse or keyboard.

Yet history shows that when its back is against the wall, Microsoft can rise above its fondness for cluttered bloatware. Sure enough, the Smart Watch exhibits some of Microsoft's finest, cleanest, simplest work in years. The fonts are crisp, dark, stylish and extremely readable - yes, even on a watch. The limited graphics (primarily in the Weather module) are evocative and pure. And navigation involves only four buttons: Previous, Next, Select and Channel. (That button moves from module to module: Time, Messages, Weather, News, Stocks, and Calendar. Microsoft intends to add a few other modules, including restaurant reviews, movie listings and what it calls daily diversions.)
And at least for the moment, the Smart Watch operating system is 100 percent free of spam, viruses and pop-up ads (but give it time).
So who, then, is left to appreciate the clean design and up-to-the-minute wireless brains of the Smart Watch? Certainly not the average person whose tolerance for technology was long ago exceeded by spam, viruses and the arsenal of remote controls on the coffee table.
No, the Microsoft Smart Watch is, to put it bluntly, for gadget freaks. It's for early adopters, guys who love "because it's there" technology, people whose pupils dilate at the mention of the word "wireless." Others are likely to give these watches the backs of their hands - and not in the way Microsoft is hoping."
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