Microsoft announces new Windows 8 mice and keyboards

With the imminent release of Windows 8 to RTM – ahead of the next-gen operating system’s launch on October 26 – Microsoft’s Hardware division is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary with the arrival of new devices which it describes as "finely tuned for use with Windows 8".

Windows 8 will bring with it a wave of new PC hardware, including desktops, all-in-ones, notebooks, convertibles, and of course tablet devices optimised for touch input with the new OS, including Microsoft’s own Surface tablets, announced last month. But while much of the Windows 8 user experience is designed around a ‘touch-first’ paradigm, Microsoft isn’t expecting users to ditch their keyboards and mice completely any time soon. There is perhaps no better evidence of this than the two new Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and two mice that it is launching specifically with portable and mobile Windows 8 devices in mind.

 

The slim Wedge Mobile Keyboard will go on sale for $79.95 USD, and is perhaps the most interesting of today’s announcements. Its focus on Windows 8 is evident from keys that include quick access to features such as the Charms, and a Windows key that features the operating system’s new more window-like logo.  

While its slim profile and sleek design will no doubt appeal to many, it’s the keyboard’s cover that provides its real party trick. In addition to protecting the keyboard itself, the cover includes magnets that activate the keyboard’s power when it’s removed, but even more excitingly, the cover will also double-up as a folding stand for your tablet:

Also debuting today is the Wedge Touch Mouse, which will go on sale for $69.95, and features four-way touch-scrolling and BlueTrack, so it can be used on almost any (reasonably) flat surface. Another handy function powers down the mouse along with the system that it’s paired to, so that the mouse won’t go flat if you forget to turn it off.

Microsoft also announced the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard ($49.95) and Sculpt Touch Mouse ($49.95), an unremarkable but reasonably attractive pair of devices. The keyboard has a ‘comfort curve’ design seen on many other Microsoft keyboards (including the Mobile Keyboard 5000 that this appears to replace), while the mouse has a four-way touch-scroll strip in place of a wheel:

The company also confirmed today that the Touch Mouse, which launched last year, will receive a range of gesture updates specifically for use in Windows 8 “to incorporate finger swipes and movements that allow for navigation, switching through apps, and zooming in and out.”

One final takeaway from today’s announcement is the absence of the chunky, italicized Microsoft logo that we’ve all come to know, if not necessarily love. Recent appearances of the Microsoft name have featured the brand set in the company’s corporate Segoe font, but today may be the first time that we’ve seen the ‘new’ Microsoft logo used in this way on an end-user retail product (rather than just in a video or presentation).

The new gestures that will be supported are listed below:

• One-finger swipes allow customers to move naturally and intuitively side to side or up and down, shifting content on screen.
 
• Two-finger movements manage apps, switch through open apps and show app commands.
 
• Three fingers allow customers to zoom in and out.
 
• Thumb gestures navigate backward and forward within apps.

Source and images: Microsoft News Center

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