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Microsoft Launches Wearables Division Ahead of Build 2014

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Ahead of Microsoft’s Build 2014 conference, which starts tomorrow, the company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, today announced Microsoft’s foray into wearables. The new division stands to yet again pit Microsoft head to head with Google, which launched Glass two years ago and recently announced Android Wear, a project extending Android to wearables starting with the watch.

Microsoft revealed its new wearables in a fashion show featuring a mix of models and senior Microsoft employees.

First up, the Smartwatch

Unlike Android Wear’s sleek design and seemingly endless functionality, Microsoft’s watch is decidedly less, Bill Gateswell, smart. The product features a black leather strap and an opaque black plastic watch face. The device alerts wearers when they’ve received an email, text or other notification. “For now,” Nadella told reporters, “beyond initial syncing, users cannot interact with the watch itself, but rather use it as a wrist-beeper of sorts.” Nadella also showed off the watch’s Yoga-like functionality when he detached the device’s strap and turned the plastic face into a traditional clip on beeper.

High Tech Fanny Pack

Microsoft also introduced a wearable keyboard with storage for essential personal items like chapstick and spare thumb drives. The keyboard, which clasps at the wearer’s hips, is activated only when in close proximity to a Surface Tablet or Windows Phone. Unfortunately, as there were no such devices in the room at the time of the demonstration, we were unable to see the new keyboard in action.

A Tribute to Bill Gates

Lastly, Redmond announced its own eyewear dubbed the Gates, for obvious reasons. The glasses, Nadella’s tribute to his new boss, replicate founder Bill Gates’s iconic spectacles, featuring thick metal frames and even thicker lenses. The Gates is by far the most advanced item in the wearables line and runs on a version of Windows optimized for mobile. The glasses feature a calculator operable by voice command, a visual protractor, access to Bing and much more. Users are guided through the product’s features by Clippy, everyone’s favorite Microsoft Office interactive, animated character.

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