End of an Era: Let my MSN Direct Service for my Suunto SPOT Watch Lapse

I don’t know how many smartphones I’ve used since I wrote this blog entry over on the O’Reilly Network back in the summer of 2005:

Microsoft Smartphone (MPx220) and Smart Watch (Suunto N3) were my vacation news and messaging tools

But, I can tell you that I’ve used two primary watches since late 2004: The Suunto N3 and N3i. Both use Microsoft’s soon to be defunct SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) platform. This technology provided one-way wireless data using FM radio frequencies to a variety of mobile devices including watches. News, weather, movies, and even calendar events synced from Microsoft Outlook. Many of these services are free. But, I’ve been paying $70 per year for features like Outlook calendar sync for all this time. Sadly, this service will come to an end on January 1, 2012.

However, I’ve been unable to use a number of services for quite a while. News alerts stopped many months ago. Traffic information never appeared in my home area. And, Outlook calendar sync stopped working after I moved from Windows XP to Windows 7. It turns out that Microsoft’s MSN Direct outlook plugin does not install under Windows 7. I’ve been trying to figure out how to cancel the service since 2009. But, there isn’t much in the way of customer service for the product.

Fortunately, Microsoft provided an easy way out. Instead of the usual automatic renewal that has been in place for years, this year’s renewal was opt-in. I didn’t respond and let the service lapse. Earlier this month, I received an email from billing@microsoft.com letting me know about:

Confirmation of cancellation of MSN Direct: Smart Plan Plus

I got a lot of value out of my two Suuntu watches. I especially appreciated the calenader event alarms that were always audible and visible even when my various smartphone alarms were completely unheard or felt (if set to vibrate).

The watch still works and will, presumably, have some minimal service until January 1, 2012. In the meantime, I need to find a reasonably affordable watch with interesting functions fit for a gadget fan.