A Microsoft smartwatch could be here within weeks

Microsoft's smartwatch could be available before consumers can get their hands on Apple Watch.

Microsoft's long-rumoured smartwatch could be announced within weeks, giving the company a device to square up to wearables from Apple and Google's Wear partners.

According to Forbes, Microsoft could launch the device within the next few weeks, with a focus on health. According to the report, the device will passively track its user's heart rate, and give the company a platform for building health and other apps on.

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Details of the device are scant but sources close to the project told the publication that it would have a two-day battery life. If true, the device's battery life will trump the one-day limit on the forthcoming Watch from Apple and wearable hardware Google’s Android Wear partners, including Motorola, LG and Samsung.

Rumours about a Microsoft watch have been floating around for the past year as interest mounted in Apple's own wearables push. A  report in May said that Microsoft was planning to ensure its wearable device could sync with Windows Phone, Android and iOS — a move seen as fitting with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's cross-platform strategy, which has recently seen the company extend support for Office to the iPad. 

Microsoft has apparently tapped both its Kinect and Internet of Things teams to develop the watch. The team behind Microsoft’s Surface tablet is also believed to have had a hand in the watch's development.

Microsoft was recently  granted a patent in the US for a smartwatch equipped with an optical sensor, potentially to measure heart rate, as well as electrical and data connectors.

While interest in Microsoft's wearable has been muted compared with Apple's Watch, should Microsoft's device be available to purchase before Christmas, it will have beaten Apple to the checkout . The big question is whether Microsoft can create a consumer device that has more appeal than the current lineup of Wear devices, which haven't been a major hit for any OEMs.

Despite a lukewarm reception for smartwatches so far, the broader wearables category is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. Just 2.7 milion wearables shipped in the first quarter of 2014, but according to analyst firm Canalys, shipments are expected to reach 43.2 million in 2015, of which 28 million will be smartwatches.

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