The Microsoft Band is once again in stock. At least, that’s what some users are seeing after getting emails overnight inviting them to purchase Microsoft’s competitor to the upcoming Apple Watch.
WinBeta is reporting that online shoppers who’d previously signed up online began receiving emails informing them that the $199 Microsoft Band is back in stock and ready for them to order at the Microsoft Store. The Microsoft Store is the brick and mortar retail store with locations scattered around the United States. There’s also an online website that carries all the same products.
Judging by the restrictions and the way Microsoft is handling Microsoft Band stock, it appears as if the company is still having a very hard time meeting demand. The Microsoft Store website is still not showing the Microsoft Band is in stock for anyone who didn’t sign up for a notification previously. Even users who get the notification aren’t able to purchase more than one Microsoft Band at a time. Additionally, the Microsoft Band is only really in stock in spirit. What users are actually paying for today is a pre-order that Microsoft is promising to deliver sometime in mid-March.
For now, the public-facing Microsoft Band page on the Microsoft Store shows “Out of Stock,” leaving most users in the lurch.
Since launching last year, the Microsoft Band has been perpetually out of stock. At first, most potential buyers thought it was simply a case of launch excitement outstripping the Microsoft Band units on hand. Quickly though, it became apparent something else was happening. Even today, the Microsoft Band frequently shows as out of stock. What’s more, the Microsoft Band isn’t available internationally. Some industry insiders are saying that Microsoft was utterly not prepared for the Microsoft Band to be popular. Whatever the reason, it’s a serious issue for a company that’s trying to build out a line of devices that all work together and complement each other.
Today wearables are built around two core concepts. The FitBit, for example, is all about allowing users to stay healthy by effortlessly tracking their calories, workouts and sleeping habits. These are fitness wearables, and they’ve grown in numbers in the last few years. The newest category for wearables is productivity and organization. These devices still have a lot of the sensors of fitness wearables, but they are focused on allowing users to leave their phone in their pocket. The Moto 360 is built to cut down on the number of times users have to reach into their pocket to pull out their Moto X and check for the time or browse email.
With the Microsoft Band, users are buying into both scenarios. The Microsoft Band has built-in sleep tracking and hardware that lets it track users steps. Also built in are guided workouts for people who need that extra push to stay active. The Microsoft Band can track heart rates with a built in monitor and users don’t actually need their smartphone to track their running route – the Microsoft Band has built-in GPS.
For the productivity minded, there’s the built-in support for calendars, alarms, caller ID and text messaging. What’s more, Microsoft doesn’t lock users into its own Windows Phone ecosystem to enjoy the Microsoft Band. Apple is hoping to strike a similar balance with the Apple Watch.
Instead, the Microsoft Band is one of the few legitimate alternatives to the Apple Watch that’s compatible with all three smartphone operating systems. Its Cortana personal assistant won’t work from anything but a Windows Phone, but many of its other features are available on the iPhone and Android through the Microsoft Health app.
Microsoft hasn’t said when or if availability will improve. For its part, Apple has an event scheduled for next week and it’s sure to show off the Apple Watch and provide release date details.