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Microsoft Moonraker was Nokia’s smartwatch before it was killed

While Apple was working on its Watch, Nokia had its own ideas about smartwatches. Sources familiar with Nokia's plans tell The Verge that the Finnish company was developing a "Moonraker" smartwatch that leveraged many of the aesthetics of the modern Windows Phone design. Working prototype devices were shown to potential customers at Mobile World Congress last year, and the smartwatch came close to launching. Nokia was planning to reveal its smartwatch alongside the Lumia 930, and Microsoft canceled it around the time the company acquired Nokia's phone business.

Images of the Microsoft Moonraker, a codename for the smartwatch, surfaced on a Tumblr blog today and were discovered by Evan Blass. The Tumblr is run by Microsoft design employee Pei-Chi Hsieh, and The Verge understands the images were made for marketing purposes rather than just concept art. Hsieh's artwork shows what Nokia's smartwatch looked like.

More than just a concept

Nokia's Moonraker smartwatch never made it to market primarily because Microsoft was anticipating its wearable Band. While the Moonraker had a number of sensors to allow you to lift your arm to read texts or drop it to turn off the display, Microsoft opted for the Band as it had more functionality. Nokia took the familiar "Metro" interface from Windows Phone and paired it with simple email, phone, and messaging apps on its smartwatch. There was even a camera remote feature to take pictures on a smartphone from the watch. Facebook and MixRadio integration was also built-in, alongside customizable watch faces and different colored straps.

It's unlikely that the "Moonraker" will ever make it to the market, but given time Microsoft may want to bring some of the more fashion-related aspects of it over to the Band in the future. Microsoft is now working on the second generation of its Band. While the software platform on the upcoming Microsoft Band 2 will remain largely the same, the look and feel of the device will improve. Microsoft is expected to launch its next-generation Band later this year after Windows 10 is available broadly.

Microsoft Moonraker smartwatch photos