In addition to its upcoming Windows® 8 operating system and Surface™ tablet, Microsoft® is now gearing up to release a new lineup of mice and keyboards to go along with its recent interest in the tablet computer.
Microsoft will release four devices in all - two mice and two keyboards. Each is Bluetooth-enabled and, according to Microsoft, each works "beautifully" with Windows 8.
The Wedge Touch Mouse is probably the most interesting of Microsoft's new devices. With a look that somewhat resembles a hi-tech door stop, the Wedge Touch Mouse features an angular, wire-free design in an ultracompact frame.
The mouse works on almost any surface, but the interesting feature about the device is its four-way touch scrolling, which allows users to navigate their screens by sliding their fingers anywhere across the surface of the mouse.
Microsoft’s Sculpt Touch Mouse is a bit more familiar with a design more reminiscent of a traditional mouse. The Sculpt Touch also features four-way touch capability, though it is limited to the central scroll strip rather the entire surface of the mouse. The device is sleek and modern looking, though it is clear this is the lower end of Microsoft’s new lineup.
The lack of a physical keyboard is often one of the top complaints among tablet users. Microsoft is aiming to fix that with its own Surface tablet, which features a keyboard embedded in a flip-out cover.
However, not all Windows 8 tablets will feature their very own built-in keyboards, which is why Microsoft’s Wedge Mobile Keyboard and Sculpt Mobile Keyboard may be welcome additions to the fold.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is clearly the high-end item here. With a price tag of $79.95, the device couples a lightweight design with a full-size keyboard. The Wedge Mobile also comes with a protective rubber sleeve, which doubles as an effective tablet stand.
On the lower end of the spectrum is the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, which is more or less a tablet-friendly version of Microsoft’s Comfort Curve keyboard. The Sculpt Mobile weighs a bit more than the Wedge Mobile, but at 1 pound, it is by no means a burden to on-the-go users. The keyboard is simple yet effective, offering all of the features one needs in a comfortable, easy-to-transport keyboard.
Microsoft’s hardware dilemma
Microsoft unveiled this latest lineup of keyboards and mice without much of the fanfare it has displayed in recent months, particularly with the launch of Windows 8, the Surface and its productivity suite Office 2013. Rather than an international press event, the latest devices were announced quietly in a press release.
This is understandable. No one’s going to get too excited about a couple new mice and keyboards. But given Microsoft’s track record when it comes to hardware, it may be wise the company is keeping this one on the down-low.
Microsoft has a history of failed hardware devices. There have been a few winners -- the Xbox®, for example, has been well-received around the world -- but there have also been more than a handful of duds in the past 20 years or so.
Microsoft would probably rather forget the Zune®, the company’s misguided answer to Apple’s iPod®. Likewise, the Origami mobile PC and the Pocket PC 2000 are likely only to be found at a garage sale or on eBay® these days.
With the Surface and these tablet-friendly components, Microsoft seems once again interested in trying its hand at the hardware side of technology. Each of the devices will be released in the coming weeks and months, during which time we will find out if Microsoft has picked a winner or whether it’s about to introduce another handful of Zunes.