My desk isn’t cool enough for this thing.
That was my first thought after getting my hands on the Wedge Touch Mouse (pictured at right), a new piece of hardware from Microsoft that looks and feels like it belongs in the office of some hipster architect.
It’s one of several new mice and keyboards from Microsoft designed to work in conjunction with Windows 8’s new features. Microsoft is announcing the peripherals today as the company gears up for the release of the new operating system in late October.
The new keyboards and mice continue Microsoft Hardware’s longstanding tradition of making devices that support the experience of using the company’s software. Microsoft Hardware has more recently started developing its own computers, but its legacy is in keyboards and mice.
Windows 8 represents a radical and at times disorienting overhaul of the operating system’s interface, and in that way these devices could help ease the transition. Microsoft’s new keyboards, for example, come with keys corresponding to the primary Windows 8 menus, a.k.a. the “charms.”
The Wedge Touch Mouse, retailing for $69.95, has a touch surface that allows for four-way scrolling, working well with the interface on a Windows 8 tablet, particularly the Start screen. When I tried it out, the wedge fit comfortably under my fingers. (The narrow corner points away from you as you use it.)
It’s a Bluetooth mouse, so it doesn’t require a USB transceiver. The mouse automatically powers down when the paired computer or tablet goes to sleep, to preserve battery life. Other nice touches include include an attached battery cover with a latch that doesn’t close unless the battery is inserted the right way up.
The touch surface is not multi-touch, however, so you won’t be able to trigger different commands with various finger patterns.
Other devices in the lineup include the $79.95 Wedge Mobile Keyboard (pictured at top). It’s a Bluetooth device, as well, and it comes with a detachable cover that doubles as a stand for a tablet. The battery lid in back was designed to make the keyboard easy to grip and hold in the same hand as a tablet.
There’s also the Sculpt Touch Mouse (at right), with a four-way touch scroll strip, selling for $49.95; and the Sculpt Mobile keyboard (below), which will also sell for $49.95. Both are Bluetooth devices, as well.
In addition, Microsoft says it will provide a software update for its Microsoft Touch Mouse, with the option for specific Windows 8 gestures, when the new operating system comes out. For example, users will be able to swipe with two fingers to switch among open apps, use three fingers to zoom in and out, or a thumb gesture to go backward and forward inside apps.
Microsoft says the new keyboards and mice will be available at retail in the coming weeks. The new devices will also work with Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 for devices running ARM processors. In addition, all the keyboards and mice will work with Windows 7, and the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard will work with Windows Vista, as well.