Disbanded: Microsoft Confirms It Will Not Sell a Band 3

Posted on October 3, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft-Band with 69 Comments

Disbanded: Microsoft Confirms It Will Not Sell a Band 3

Nearly three weeks after we first broke the story, Microsoft has confirmed that it will not ship a Microsoft Band 3 wearable in 2016. It also confirmed that it had fire-saled Band 2 throughout the year in order to clear out remaining inventory.

“We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year,” a Microsoft statement obtained by Mary Jo Foley reads. “We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices.”

Thurrott.com’s Brad Sams was the first to report on this story, on September 13, when he wrote that “Microsoft is not planning to announce a Band 3 this year.” The firm also told Brad that it would continue “exploring the wearables space,” confirming information from a source who told him that Microsoft had future wearables in the works, but not Microsoft Band products.

As I noted a week later in Microsoft Band on the Run (Premium Only), Microsoft’s Band defeat comes at a bad time: Apple literally just tied the success of its Apple Watch, the only major new product launched under Tim Cook, to fitness and health.

But the problems with Microsoft Band are, and were, many. Both generations of the product have suffered from endemic reliability issues, a problem that seems to dog most Microsoft hardware products, and few third parties ever supported the Band or the back-end Microsoft Health service.

In any event, I’ve heard via Twitter—and Mary Jo reports over on ZDNet—the Band 2 has disappeared from Microsoft’s retail stores. And Mary Jo also hears that the Band team has been—wait for it—disbanded.

And if you are for some reason upset about this change, I’ll just say this: As I discovered back in May, a less inexpensive Fitbit Alta does pretty much everything the Band 2 does, but it delivers 7-8 days of battery life. Something to consider.

 

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Comments (71)

71 responses to “Disbanded: Microsoft Confirms It Will Not Sell a Band 3”

  1. Avatar

    545

    I must say I am getting tired of attempting to live in the MS ecosystem and getting abandoned.  I understand how MS got it's lunch eaten in music devices and phones, but I thought fitness based hardware they might have a role to play and stick with it.  After going through this cycle again with the Band 1 & 2, I guess I might be finally smartening up and will stay away from any new MS hardware.  I was just getting to know the golf feature on my band and thought it has some nice promise.

    It must suck to be a developer (hardware or software) on these teams and watch MS screw up and kill product lines that they put a lot of effort into.

    • Avatar

      412

      "I am getting tired of attempting to live in the MS ecosystem and getting abandoned."


      I feel your pain...I do...this is why I've had to diversify. When Windows 8 came out, I went all in...ALL in...PC, Tablet, Phone, ecosystem...I lived with the quirks and growing pains. Lived with the XBOX Music hell we went through. Used Hubs on Windows Phone only to have it taken away. Used Zune, Used Windows Media Center, Used Band/Band 2, XBOX.

      How, I have Windows 10 main PC/Media/File Server at home, Surface Book as daily driver, Samsung Note 7 for Phone, Combo of OneDrive, Amazon and Google Photos for cloud, use Amazon Echo (Alexa), PLEX as a Media Center. Sure, I'd still love to be in or mostly in a Microsoft Ecosystem but there is no way to do it anymore. 

  2. Avatar

    180

    "Hmm, a Band 3 story. What stock photo will perfectly encapsulate the feeling of disappointment and longing for a missed opportunity that we will not see that product. I know, 2 people lying naked together on a bed, with a soft filter, light streaming through the window. One of them is very disappointed..."

     

    Seriously, Paul, I'd love to know your thought process on that picture.

  3. Avatar

    265

    I've had and used the original Band and then the Band 2 since the first day they were available. Microsoft has a way of rewarding loyalty by turning it's customers into contrarians, at least so far as market share goes.  But I am generally very happy with the Band 2.  I was hesitent when it came out, because my Band was still operational and I was unsure the upgrades justified the expense.  But I'm glad I bought it and have found the build quality fine, the battery life better and the screen and comfort (relative to the original Band) rewarding.  I don't mind the bulk and weight of it.  I like to be reminded that I have it on, to keep moving, etc.  The app, though still a little awkard, is also considerably better.  One thing I would have liked to have seen was for the Band 2 to integrate weather conditions into the calory burn calculations.   

    I'm content to stick with the Band 2 for now and will watch (groan) with interest the anticipated announcement of Microsoft's alliance with a third party manufacturer to release a "Band 3" though it might be called something else.  

     

  4. Avatar

    229

    Other than maybe the Xbox One (S), I'm hard pressed to identify a recent hardware device sold by Microsoft that did (does) not have a serious flaw - both generation of Band's being examples.  This state of affairs seems to go hand in hand with multiple software malfunctions found in Windows 10 (USB cameras, for one).

    I firmly believe their are a lot of smart people working for Microsoft that have the capability to design, construct and support devices/software meant for the consumer. But, there also seems to be a culture driven by those in charge where seeking excellence in all things Microsoft is absent. Instead, get it out the door and we will fix it later, seems more likely to be their mantra. Keep burning people who trust you (Microsoft) will cause further attrition to competitors. (Yes, I know, these competitors are not perfect either. But, they seem more engaged in making things that work out of the box).  Trust is difficult to earn but, easy to lose - almost forever. Now, back to my Surface 3 and wonder if I will have wifi when I awaken the beast.

  5. Avatar

    4259

    Let's count how many devices MS has abandoned me with:

     

    Microsoft Sidewinder gaming products

    Microsoft Fingerprint reader

    Zune

    Microsoft Home Networking (Routers)

    Windows Phone

    Microsoft Band

     

    At some point I guess it need to just stop buying into this stuff! :P

  6. Avatar

    412

    The Band was a great little device...almost sounds a lot like Zune, Windows Media Center, Windows Phone. Fantastic device the masses didn't want. 

    Since I had to move on to Android, I decided to try both the Gear S2 and an Android Wear (LG Urbane.) Android Wear won by a landslide because it was simply more functional and had a lot more compatibility with other apps. Like, for example, I can DELETE, FLAG, REPLY, ARCHIVE AND SCHEDULE from my Android Wear via Outlook. So nice to have. Mind you, many may be turned off by Android Wear's UI/Swiping but once used to it, it is quite good. 

  7. Avatar

    1517

    Paul,

    Not sure if you can comment even if you knew anything but it seems Microsoft would be in the clear to release a Band 3 with thier 2017 lineup and it would still fit within what they quoted.  Some sites are reporting that Microsoft disbanded their HARDWARE team, but it was just the team attempting to get W10 on it right?  Band is now under Panos right?  Seems like they could be working on something Band-ish for that 2017 hardward release.  

  8. Avatar

    1792

    Getting rid of the band is consistent with Nadella's enterprise first consumer last strategy. He should probably ditch Xbox, Groove and Videos to kill off the consumer space in the way he has with Windowsphone.

    Keeping a legacy consumer business in some hope Microsoft can compete with Apple, Google or Amazon is really the world of Ballmer.

     

  9. Avatar

    4273

    Microsoft could have added business features to the band. I have an RSA fob and a door badge strapped to me all day long. It would have been great to have that functionality in my band!

     

     

  10. Avatar

    5485

    Microsoft IMHO has given up leading the future of personal computing. The emphasis on enterprise security and cloud (next gen main frames and data centers) is a symptom of such thing. That was the emphasis of IBM and HP when it given up delivering personal computing solutions. HP is mostely an OEM now.

    Windows PC might "soon" be legacy in the personal computing space given the pace. Windows is becoming more and more isolated.

  11. Avatar

    5523

    No Band 3 announcement "this year", in 2016.

  12. Avatar

    5554

    Shocker.  But then let's face it, by all of Microsoft's fumbling and bumbling, they never truly wanted to succeed in the consumer space.

    • Avatar

      5724

      In reply to PeteB: Agreed. I Think we'll have an idea within six months if MS is actually going to finally rally everything around the Surface brand. If true, it makes sense to start killing everything off, but they don't need to wait for ever to let everyone know they're actual plans of consolidating everything under the Surface brand. It would be nice for them to actually start to confirm this as an actual strategy by the end of the year and give targets for a phone and other devices release dates. We'll see.

       

    • Avatar

      5706

      I think at one point they did want to succeed in the consumer space, but for the last year or so they seem to have given up to focus on their business customers.

      It's like they are afraid of spending some cash on a long term consumer plan, and they have got away with it so far buy pulling back on phones and to a small extent, Band. The only product they can't pull back on is XBox, but you can bet that if Nadella thinks he can get away with it he will pull back on XBox as well.

  13. Avatar

    5184

    This is disappointing news indeed!  Band 2 is absolutely my favorite fitness wearable.  Why can't MS just say they've discontinued all current and future Band hardware production?

    The Fitbit devices are nice, but they come up short in a few areas based on my experience: sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring. 

    Fitbit simply lacks the ability to tell when you were in deep sleep.  Improving that plus total duration, with Band's help, has helped me in ways the sleep doctor has never been able to do without resorting to sleep meds. 

    As for heart rate, Fitbit seems to be almost a joke compared to the Band.  I've worn both Band/Band 2 and Charge HR during multiple workouts along with a Polar HR monitor.  Fitbit is all over the place and often under reports.  Band 2 is more in line with the Polar.  Not perfect, but close enough that I feel I can leave the Polar at home for most activities.  I have not been able to test with the Surge or new Charge 2. 

    If you don't care about either of those things, then Fitbit is probably the path to take.  For me, step counting is about the least interesting feature of these devices, especially since most phones offer that these days.

    Anyone have an Apple Watch and have tested it in a similar manner?  I'm curious how it fares at HR and sleep tracking.

  14. Avatar

    115

    After my second Band 2 broke and the store was out of stock, I gave up on this product anyway. No love lost here because i was already frustrated and disappointed.

  15. Avatar

    1775

    >...the Band team has been—wait for it—disbanded.

    That was a wearable thing to say. ?

  16. Avatar

    1822

    So if there are no more in the stores, and I have a 2 year store replacement policy, what happens?

  17. Avatar

    326

    How am i going get my phone notification without getting it out of my pocket now ? 

    I got 3 broken band 2 , i can't get rma for unless i pay 200+ bucks for because they are "out of warranty" in some universe...

  18. Avatar

    5496

    A Surface watch, a Surface band?

    • Avatar

      5486

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      Adding 'Surface' to anything MS plan for will not help the situation they face. They've lost all consumer confidence. Those people who did buy into the Band or Windows Mobile are likely feeling pretty let down. MS just throw unfinished, untested products at the consumer market, then pull out when things go wrong or they don't sell, which has pretty much lost them all their customers. Even the Surface line have been plagued with issues, but MS keep plodding along, fingers in ears - the next gen Surface line won't be any different either

    • Avatar

      5554

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      What exactly would slapping the word 'Surface' on a new band change, if its still the same company behind it as the failed Band/Band2, with the same inability to execute in the consumer space? 

      And Newflash: The "Surface" branding only means something inside the fanboy bubble.  Ask any random person if they've ever heard of a 'Surface' tablet and they'll have no clue.

  19. Avatar

    2902

    I misread the cues:  I was waiting for Band 3 to update my wife's Band 1.  I just broke the news to her, with the Fitbit web page ready to ease the pain.  Too bad, she really liked the Band.

  20. Avatar

    901

    Well, do they just mean they won't have a Band-like device this year, or never ever?  If they release one next year, then this isn't really news...

  21. Avatar

    5763

    In reply to dcdevito: The problem with this sentiment is that the consumer and business markets are much closer togeather than they used to be.  If you lose one you risk losing the other.  And as Apple has shown by being the most profitable company in the world, the consumer market can be very profitable.  Microsoft needs the consumer market to strengthen its corporate market.  If Microsof "refocuses" to only enterprise on windows mobile, doesn't invest in wearables, are corporate apps any more likely to support a phone with poor marketshare and no eco system than consumer apps.  NO they will not, microsoft needs the consumer market to get the numbers to have a reason to have corporate support.

     

  22. Avatar

    5531

    Focus! Microsoft is smart to focus their efforts on what is working for them. 

  23. Avatar

    387

    It is disappointing that Microsoft is not going to continue producing the Microsoft Band, I really liked the functionality of it as it was intuitive and easy-to-use. And it didn't look too bad either. I've been running a small experiment of my own for the last 12 months wearing the Band 2 and the Fitbit HR along side each other. And while the Fitbit has a better battery life and is more reliable, the functionality does not stack up to that of the Band when you're using a Windows phone.

    However as you have stated Paul, products like Fitbit are getting a lot better, unfortunately there Windows applications are not and to get the full functionality of products like Fitbit one will need abandoned Windows phone, which is something I'm trying to come to terms with.

    The sad fact is that Microsoft really has only achieved two successful stories on the consumer side of their products and that is Windows 10 and the SurfacePro 4. And quite frankly, if they don't lift their game they are going to lose out in those areas as well. They really need to sort out the application side of things if they are to continue with their success.

  24. Avatar

    5510

    For those who still want one if these watches, I don't think anyone has anything to worry about. I always see these watches being sold on internet discount stores like yugster and groupon. 

  25. Avatar

    2181

    Again,forfeit battles and give up on wars are not the way to victory, MS proclaim its commitment to increasingly smaller segement of total tech market it once dominate is in fact none other than a firm commitment to total defeat.

  26. Avatar

    5094

    I noticed in the podcasts last week that Paul was wearing an Alta. I've been thinking of getting an Alta to replace my Flex (obtained after free promotion between Fitibt & MS when I bought my Lumia 735). This just makes it even more likely I'll be getting an Alta before the year is out.

    A question to Paul and other Fitbit users: What's the quality of the Alta like? I'm currently on my 3rd Flex since March 2015. First broke after 3 months where the tracker goes. Admittedly a common issue on the flex based on the forum posts. Second broke a year after getting it, weirdly at hte holes where the clasp hooks in. (From experience, the MS Band isn't the only wearable with quality issues!)

    • Avatar

      2149

      In reply to davidD:

      I can't comment on the Alta, but I got a Charge 2, coming from an original Band. Obviously I haven't had it very long, but it seems to be very durable. Plus, if the band piece breaks, you can replace it with first or third-party ones. The only thing it doesn't have is built-in GPS, but it can piggy back off of your phone. I'm really happy with it so far.

  27. Avatar

    1670

    I'm really happy I never spent the money on the Band. I still have my X Box One but am not sure if I will move on with the next version. I have been a loyal Microsoft supporter from my first DOS machine in the 80's. I'm not sure if they have the ability to support consumer products as a true long term business. I think opting for the HP Specter x360 over the Surface Book was another good choice. 

  28. Avatar

    4964

    Glad I got a 'grey import' Band 2 when I did. Great device but hard to see a future when Microsoft didn't even offer it in many markets. How long before they shut down Cortana, years pass and it is not available in many locations...

  29. Avatar

    850

    I love the GPS feature in my Band 2. I'm very disappointed in how this turned out.

  30. Avatar

    5510

    A couple of things:

    One, you can't compare the Microsoft Band watch to Apple or AndroidWear, simply because of the style. It practically looks like a toy, whereas with the Apple or Androidwear watches are more practical and versatile. Style-wise, the possibilities are endless, with the ever-changing watch faces, one can do with a Androidwear and Apple. That's not the case with the Band.

    That's for the general public.

    For the "tech people," you can't trust Microsoft with supplying a sound ecosystem to support any hardware or software they release. I don't understand why Microsoft keeps doing this and they have been doing this since, forever. From PhotoDraw to PictureIt to Money to Small Business Accounting to Zune to Windows Phone to Band, and still more....Microsoft can't be trusted.

    If it were running the Band division, I wouldn't focused on promoting that little watch, I would be promoting and building Microsoft Health.

    People often misjudge the rise and popularity of the iPod, which practically started this mobile computing era, which later led to the iPhone. The iPod, only became popular when version 3 was released. However, iPod's rise was not due to the device itself, but rather the expansion of the iTunes software which evolved into the iTunes Music Store. Nobody knew and/or cared about the iPod or iPod 2, when it was released because 95% of the world didn't own Macs. But when iTunes was available for Windows, then the iPod took off. The point being is this, Microsoft needs to put all their efforts into their Microsoft Health service, BEFORE releasing another wearable. It needs, it's own "iTunes Music Store" before anything else. Microsoft Health can be that...SHOULD BE THAT. Once that happens, then Microsoft should release another (fitness) wearable.

  31. Avatar

    1488

    I have the fitbit Blaze and love it. It is fashionable, gives me all the excercise info I want as well as Caller ID and text messages. The only thing it does not have is GPS and it will use your phone for that. Plus it has a week long battery life.

    • Avatar

      1517

      I got the blaze and returned it.  I loved that it was light, fashionable and had great battery life.  The GPS via the phone (Nexus 6P) was horribly innacurate though.  Can't live with that.  Would be perfect if it had gps for real. 

    • Avatar

      131

      Plus, with the recent firmware update, you can choose from all of your apps which notifications you get on your wrist.  I use Nine for email, so now it's great that I can glance at emails I get from work (in addition to the standard call and text notifications).

    • Avatar

      674

      I considered the Blaze, but opted for the less conspicuous Charge 2.  My wife opted for the Blaze over the Charge 2.  Go figure!

  32. Avatar

    593

    my band 2 tore in half today, it's my 3rd one in less than a year. Hopefully they still have 1 available at my "local" store.

  33. Avatar

    1341

    The Band 2 was a real POS product quality wise. I have had 2 replaced. The third one, unfortunatly my son dropped and cracked the screen, but was still usable.  But the Strap now has ripped on this one too, and of course because the screen is broken, mircosoft can deny fixing the strap.  Oh well.

  34. Avatar

    674

    After owning both the Band 1 and 2 (and having multiple issues with both), I finally jumped ship over the weekend. I bought a Fitbit Charge 2 - so far so good.  I must say that I liked the Band 2 and the Band app (on Android).

    • Avatar

      2354

      Good luck with that.  I've had just as many quality/reliability issues with fitbit's stuff as the bands I went through.

      I now just use apps like Endomondo linked to a pebble which has been rock solid for the 2 years I've had it.

      • Avatar

        5184

        In reply to zybch:

        I've had the same reliability issues with my Fitbit Charge.  First split where the band meets the body of the tracker.  Very similar to Band.  Bought a new Fitbit since old was out of warranty.  It had a battery issue--only lasted two days on a charge.  Fitbit replaced it, but only had blue left in stock.  Hate that color.

  35. Avatar

    214

    So not in 2016 - which is running down. Does this imply that it will reappear in 2017 as a newer and better product? Plenty of room for speculation, eh?

    Personally, I haven't worn a wrist watch of any description in many years... so if it's going to go on my wrist it needs to be slim, trim, reliable, and usable for second factor authentication... 

    Y'all need to read "First Lensman" by e.e. Doc Smith... from the 1930s...

  36. Avatar

    5394

    "Microsoft’s Band defeat comes at a bad time" Or maybe an excellent time to not directly competing with Apple and failing.

  37. Avatar

    5197

    I have both a band 1 and band 2. The band 1 lasted about 6 months before it was replaced under warranty and again replaced at 11 months under warranty when it fell apart at the bateries. The Band 2 last 3 month before it needs replacing under warranty due to either the strap breaking open or it refusing to stay on after a charge and reporting the battery at 0% even after just showing 100%.

    I am now on my 4th replacement Band 2 and think Microsoft is doing a good thing by killing it as they just could not make one that last. When i go into the store they don't even question if my Band has failed again they just start proccessing the warranty and getting another out of the box. The employees know it's not reliable and feel bad for having to replace it yet again.

  38. Avatar

    4814

    Used to have a basic FitBit. Then came the Band 1, which I found interesting, so I bought it. Strap broke during football match with the kids. Happened around the same time, where the Apple Watch series 0 was released. Got one, which didn't break, but there was room for improvement hardware and software-wise. Switched to a Microsoft Band 2, which I liked a lot, but it broke (could no longer charge) very quickly. Really poor hardware quality :(

    Upgraded my Apple Watch to WatchOS3 and liked the new OS design, but still wanted better battery time and built-in GPS. So just got a Apple Watch 2, which for me last 2 days on a charge and I use it for much more than workouts. Very satisfied so far. Like the look and feel of real watch especially so use a leather cuff band for non-working out usage and a sports band for workout.

  39. Avatar

    455

    I'm definitely disappointed about this change, even if it's not the popular sentiment.  The Band had everything I wanted, and when it wasn't tearing it's band or having battery issues, it was perfect.  To get a similarly capable replacement (I need GPS tracking for my hiking) I either need to get a Fitbit Surge or a Garmin vívoactive HR, both of which are $75 more than the Band's regular price and whose apps have horrible reviews filled with more issues than the Microsft Band app.  So basically, there's nothing to replace it with.  Thus, color me disappointed.

     

    Oh, and Paul, I know how much you love a good misleading headline...was a little surprised to this one stop short of the truth..."in 2016".  Because that's really all we have confirmed...

  40. Avatar

    1475

    Sad as it is, it's probably best - MS can focus on what its better at, versus making a wearable that no one wore (as much as I liked the Band 1...which was OK at best).

  41. Avatar

    6359

    Just loaded a firmware update on my Band 2 10/12/2016 14:45.  Of course no info on what changed including the Tile on the Band tasked with telling you what was changed!  I did notice the sync after the update ran faster.  A while later I synced it again with similar results.  I think maybe they improved the syncing but I don't have anything solid to impress my friends with.

    I took advantage of the price cutting and Best Buy gift card safety awards at work to get the Band 2 at Best Buy for half off.  Best Buy matches the lowest price you can show them on your phone. I used Amazon.

    It cleans up easily, still looks solid and great.

    I find it extremely comfortable.  I jog a 1.25 mile track at the park and the GPS draws it perfectly on the report. The color coding for speed is accurate as well.

    It counts stairs when my wife's FitBit doesn't.  She was considering switching to the band.  Not any more.

    Well, my Zune HD, used daily, does appear to be indestructible and remains the highest fidelity mobile device I have ever owned.  Not such high hopes for the Band 2 based on reviews but I will continue being careful with it and hope it lasts.

     

  42. Avatar

    217

    I agree with this move, Microsoft has no business being in the consumer-only space. 

    • Avatar

      2149

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I'm torn on this. On one hand, they're clearly terrible at it, have a damaged reputation (however outdated) from Zune, BSODs, etc, and are competing with the likes of Google and Apple, who are super consumer-focused. On the other hand... Microsoft has so many of the pieces to make a strong play in the consumer space. 

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