Microsoft announced today that it has started to increase the availability of its Microsoft Band fitness wearable and is expanding the sale of the device to additional retailers in the United States. Additionally, the software giant will begin selling Band outside the US for the first time, with UK customers able to purchase the wearable next month.
“When we launched in October, we took a phased and measured approach, launching exclusively in the US at Microsoft stores and microsoftstore.com,” a Microsoft representative told me. “We promised to listen and build this experience jointly with our customers and partners. Today, we are excited to announce we’ve taken direct feedback and increased and expanded the availability of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band.”
Starting today, customers in the United States can purchase Microsoft Band at Amazon.com, Best Buy, and Target, with additional shipments planned in the coming weeks and months. Band will still be sold at Microsoft stores and microsoftstore.com as well, of course, and Microsoft promises more inventory at both locations. Additional shipments of the device are planned for the coming weeks and months as well, Microsoft notes.
Additionally, Microsoft Band will be available via Microsoft Store online in the UK starting April 15, 2015. The device will cost £169.99—about $250, or $50 more than the US cost of the Band—and interested customers can pre-order it immediately. The Microsoft Health service—which collects the data measured by Band and provides insights based on usage—is available in the UK immediately.
Microsoft launched its Microsoft Band wearable in October 2014, but ongoing limited supplies disappointed potential customers. Since then, the firm has made the device available here and there, almost randomly, and it wasn’t until February that Microsoft issued the first major update for both Band and Microsoft Health. That update added a Bike tile and cycling-based guided workouts, plus new quick read and virtual keyboard features. At the time, Microsoft also delivered the web-based Microsoft Health dashboard.
While Microsoft Band has been on a deliberate slow boil since its inception, I consider this product key to the company’s future, not so much because it will ever be a best seller, but because it so thoroughly embodies Microsoft’s “mobile first, cloud first” mantra.
Band is a data collecting monster, with sensors for heart rate, steps and distance, elevation, and ultra-violet, among others, and it connects to Microsoft Health, with its Azure-based machine learning capabilities, both on the cloud, and on mobile apps on Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. Both Band and Microsoft Health are designed to be open, so that a user with any fitness wearable could theoretically use Microsoft Health and any Microsoft Band user could use any other health and fitness service. That future is, of course, some time away, though February’s update included a Microsoft Band SDK release that will help make it happen.
In addition to writing about Microsoft Band regularly on Thurrott.com, I have written a short e-book about this product, called Microsoft Band Field Guide. This e-book is available for free from the Field Guide Books web site and it will be updated as Microsoft improves both Band and Microsoft Heath.