New mice and keyboards are on the way, and are specifically designed for mobile and for Windows 8, Microsoft announced today.
In the coming weeks and months, the company will introduce two new Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and mice to the market – the Wedge Touch Mouse, the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, the Sculpt Touch Mouse, and the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard. On October 26, the general availability date of the new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft will also release updated Windows 8 gestures for the Microsoft Touch Mouse.
“It’s an exciting time for the whole company for lots of reasons, but this is something we’re thrilled about and we can’t wait to see people’s reactions,” says Brett Kelleran, general manager of Microsoft Hardware.
The bevy of keyboards and mice, which are specifically tuned to Windows 8 and designed for mobile computing, is the largest collection of Bluetooth offerings the company has ever announced at one time. The launch also comes during Microsoft Hardware’s 30th anniversary year.
“For 30 years, we’ve been creating products designed to light up features in Microsoft software and making it easier to get things done. It’s part of our DNA,” Kelleran says. “In that way, it’s fitting that we are showcasing our first set of hardware products designed and optimized for Windows 8. It’s the reason why our group was formed and, in these products, that’s shining through.”
As PCs get smaller, lighter, and thinner, they are appearing with fewer and fewer USB ports. Coupled with a growing ubiquity of BlueTooth-enabled PCs, there’s a clear trend developing.
As computing becomes more and more mobile, it’s only natural that keyboards and mice adapt accordingly, Kelleran says.
The new keyboards and mice have special touches designed for just such use, including a cover for the Wedge Mobile Keyboard that doubles as a stand for your tablet, a mouse that sleeps when the computer sleeps to save batteries, and the battery door cover slides instead of unclipping so users on the go won’t lose it. And with the Bluetooth-enabled devices, there’s no need for cords or wires, and no need to take up a USB port.
“We’ve thought about each and every detail to ensure our customers have a great mobile experience,” Kelleran says.
In addition, the devices are in sync with Windows 8 in ways that really light up the software – the keyboards have Windows 8 shortcut keys for searching, sharing, changing settings, and device access, and the mice are designed to have the same precision, control, and fluid interaction a customer would have if they were using a touch screen.
Young Kim, industrial design manager for Microsoft Hardware, says the devices have a high level of craftsmanship – from the thought and planning that goes into each one, to the way they’re designed, to the way they’re manufactured. For example, instead of painting plastic to look metallic, the devices incorporate metal.
“When we use authentic materials, we’re able to connect with customers in a way that’s more than just appearance level. It’s a level of authenticity and pride in craftsmanship that you would expect from very high-end jewelry that you can get in consumer electronics,” Kim says. “It compliments that lifestyle our customers are looking for.”
About the new devices:
The pocket-sized Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse (US$69.95) is designed for the mobile lifestyle, but still provides four-way touch scrolling and navigation. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, and features BlueTrack Technology, so it can be used on virtually any surface. It also has “backpack mode,” which means it will power down and sleep along with the computer it’s paired to, saving battery life.
The slim Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard (US$79.95) is designed for use with a tablet but brings the comfort and efficiency of a full-size keyboard. The keyboard features Windows 8 Hot Key, media keys, Bluetooth technology, and a durable cover to protect it – and your tablet – from scratches. The cover also converts into a tablet stand.
The Bluetooth-enabled Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse (US$49.95) is finely tuned for use with Windows 8, including a four-way touch scroll strip for navigating up and down, left and right, and swiping through windows and documents.
The Bluetooth-enabled Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard (US$49.95) is sturdy, but just over one pound and ideal for travel. It has a Comfort Curve design to position hands and wrists naturally, and a battery saving mode that powers the keyboard down after a period of inactivity (and wakes it up again with the tap of a key).
The Microsoft Touch Mouse (US$79.95) has been updated specifically for use with Windows 8 to incorporate finger swipes and movements that allow for navigation, switching through apps, and zooming in and out.