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Microsoft is launching a new fitness and health tracker called Microsoft Band for $199, along with a new platform called Microsoft Health, which the company says will be able to collect data from a variety of wearable devices to give users insights into their personal health.

MicrosoftBand_Phone_WeeklyStepsUI_RGBThe system will work in conjunction with apps for Windows, Android and iOS devices. The “intelligence engine” in Microsoft Health will give users information such as which exercises burned the most calories, or how much restful vs. restless sleep they had during the night. Over time, the company says Microsoft Health will also connect to calendar and email information from Microsoft Office to let users know, for example, if the number of meetings on their calendar affects their sleep quality.

Microsoft says the Band will be available in limited quantities at its online and physical Microsoft Stores. The device has ten sensors, including GPS, optical heart rate monitor, UV light monitor. Windows Phone users can pair Microsoft Band with their devices to use it in conjunction with the Cortana digital assistant.

It’s not just a fitness tracker. In a story about the device, Microsoft says “the band also offers hands-free access to the web and your most important correspondence,” including emails and text messages.

The move reflects Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s push to define Microsoft as a “productivity and platforms” company, expanding the definition of productivity to encompass the personal lives of users, not just getting more done at work.

Microsoft Band will face stiff competition from a variety of wearable fitness devices, but the company is hoping to differentiate itself by working across mobile platforms, along with the potential for Microsoft Health to work with competing wearables. Compatible devices at launch include UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper, the company says.

“A vibrant marketplace of devices and services is giving us access to a wealth of data about our nutrition, health and fitness,” says Microsoft VP Todd Holmdahl in a post announcing the Microsoft Health platform. “We see an opportunity to bring these devices and services together to allow you to combine the information they collect and use the power of the cloud to turn that data in to something more valuable.”

One surprise: Microsoft Band will be supported by Starbucks, allowing users to pay for coffee with a gift card barcode.

Here’s a video from the company demonstrating the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Health system.

Microsoft Store employees stayed late Wednesday night for a crash course in the new wearable. Here’s what we saw while walking through University Village in Seattle tonight.





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