Anonymous sources at Microsoft have reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that the company is testing eye-worn computing prototypes similar to Google's Glass device, and has already sought components for the devices from component makers in Asia.
However, the same source deemed it necessary to tell the Wall Street Journal that "the device may never reach mass production," according to the report.
Microsoft is still "determined to take the lead in hardware manufacturing to make sure the company won't miss out on the opportunities in the wearable gadget market," the source told the WSJ.
So, Microsoft wants to build its own prototypes for Glass-style wearable hardware, and maintains that it will "take the lead in hardware manufacturing," but is still giving off the impression that its prototypes are not likely to reach the market.
This actually reveals a lot. The wearable market could potentially be a big one. The WSJ report cites an ABI Research forecast of 485 million units in the wearable category by 2018. Google, in this regard, was smart to get the word out on its Glass project so early, even though it clearly won't introduce Glass to consumer markets for a few more years. By staking its claim so early, Google made sure that any competitor that attempted to build a similar device later on would look like nothing more than a copy-cat. If Microsoft were to go to market with a Glass-type product, it would be the Zune embarrassment all over again.
However, Google is reportedly preparing to release an SDK for Google Glass by the end of this year, thus opening the floodgates of apps developed specifically for the device. Even if Microsoft doesn't want to engage in a battle over eye-worn hardware, it will need to explore the technology to see if there are any opportunities for branded apps on its platform.
And who knows, maybe Google flubs the Glass product when it finally goes to market. There is always the possibility that Glass faulters in one way or another. Microsoft could have a prototype to use to capitalize on such an opportunity, if it presents itself.
So don't expect to see Windows Glasses anytime soon. But if they hit the market in five years, don't be surprised, either.