Microsoft Garage releases Mouse Without Borders

Microsoft's Garage division is dedicated to having team members think outside the normal development box and create new and innovative software and other projects. Usually these kinds of projects are released as part of a Microsoft commercial release or stay inside the company. However, this week the Garage team has done something a little different. It has released a new and free stand alone software application for PCs that should be very helpful for folks who use more than one PC in their office space. It's called Mouse Without Borders.

The 1.1 MB file allows the user to have up to four PCs linked together. The user can then simply use a single mouse to copy, paste, drag and drop files across all the PCs linked by the Mouse Without Borders application as if all of the PC files were located on just one desktop. As Microsoft's Steve Clayton explains, "I have two PC’s on my desk at work connected to 3 LCD screens and using Mouse Without Borders I can move my mouse between the 3 screens, even though one of them is attached to a different PC from the other two. What’s more, I can move files between the 2 computers simply by dragging them from one desktop to another."

In addition to the file movement features, Mouse Without Borders also allows the user to log onto all the PCs linked together by the program via just one PC. Finally, as Clayton states, "as a whimsical bonus is it allows you to customize your desktop with the daily image from Bing or a local collection of pictures." You can check out a video showing Mouse Without Borders in action below.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

AT&T responds to Justice Department's lawsuit

Next Story

Microsoft releases Windows monthly security bulletins early

81 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I used Synergy a lot when I was working with multiple OSes and it worked well. However I used Input Director when I was only working with MS OS systems. Will be interesting to see how this stacks up and if Windows 8 will have this natively.

Thank you Microsoft, I've been using software like this for year but without as much functionality (and a few issues with Windows 7) this could solve all my problems and give me for tools

"I like using Microsoft's software because it is usually higher quality than the alternatives."

"[Microsoft's] point is to make everything better, easier and more accessible"

"where Microsoft products usually shine is their ease of use, good design and high usability"

HAHAHAHA! Oh wow...

Get real. MWB being nice and easy (and free) makes it a very *un*-Microsoft-like program. And why the hell can't I change the folder location from the desktop?

Thanks for the laughs, guys!

elcoyoteloco said,
Get real. MWB being nice and easy (and free) makes it a very *un*-Microsoft-like program.

Wow, uneducated trolls are funny. Most of their stuff is very easy to use. Yea, their work is typically much better quality, and I sure hope you're not (trying) to poke fun at freebies, MS puts out quite a bit for free. Just look at the various products that have free editions, commercial products that they give away to students, their various open source directories, etc etc.. get real and get a clue.

Max Norris said,

Wow, uneducated trolls are funny.

Calling someone a troll just because they don't agree with you is just lazy, dumb, and a sign of someone without an original thought in their tiny little head.

I like Microsoft (mostly), I've been using Microsoft products since there was just DOS, and I can tell you for a fact that they have *never* had a reputation for ease-of-use. For better or worse, that mantle has always belonged to Apple.

Microsoft is also one of the key software companies that are responsible for creating a market for closed source, commercial software (which is fine by me), and Gates has always been very aggressive about making sure people pay for his goods. Portraying MS as a champion of freeware is simple nonsense.

Talk to me after you've passed your Computer History I course, kid.

Love this. I have been using a similar setup at work for the past 5 years. There are actually quite a few of 'virtual km' programs which let your mouse, keyboard, and clipboard work across a whole bunch of computers. Would certainly be nice to have it natives in the OS though.

Also although apps have long been available like this, where Microsoft products usually shine is their ease of use, good design and high usability - something which Mouse without Borders seems to be very good at.

Microsoft should encourage more such "labs" or "garage" projects. There used to be many downloads released on the Download Center in the XP-era but in recent years, the company has a policy of "no unsupported downloads". That's why in fact why Raymond Chen he wouldn't release TweakUI he updated for Windows Vista.

Seems like Microsoft has gone back to copying freeware and open source software into their products, I wonder why no one ever points the finger at them for it yet keeps moaning when others do the same for MS.

"We haz virtualization!!1" - great, I had that a decade ago. "We haz network mouse/monitor support11!11" - great, had that 15 years ago. You guys sure are on the cutting edge.

What's even sadder is seeing these "IT professional" comments how awesome such a feature is when the rest of us have been using it for ages.

Oh well.

daPhoenix said,

What's even sadder is seeing these "IT professional" comments how awesome such a feature is when the rest of us have been using it for ages.
l.

What about all of the rest of us who are pointing out all of the other programs that do the same thing? Ahem.

daPhoenix said,
Seems like Microsoft has gone back to copying freeware and open source software into their products

Their point is to make everything better, easier and more accessible. Not many people know about all these other tools, right? Mostly because they're bad.. I mean, Synergy, WTF!

daPhoenix said,
Seems like Microsoft has gone back to copying freeware and open source software into their products, I wonder why no one ever points the finger at them for it yet keeps moaning when others do the same for MS.

"We haz virtualization!!1" - great, I had that a decade ago. "We haz network mouse/monitor support11!11" - great, had that 15 years ago. You guys sure are on the cutting edge.

What's even sadder is seeing these "IT professional" comments how awesome such a feature is when the rest of us have been using it for ages.

Oh well.

Idiot.

This was developed my a MSCoder in his free time. Microsoft Garage isn't for products coded by Microsoft, but for products being promoted through Microsoft. It's MS giving something back to their staff.

Nice. I have a desktop computer and a notebook computer at home. I always wish to control both computers using my desktop's mouse.

Very nice. I have used Synergy and Input Director for years and they are both quality products but having OS-level integration of the functionality would be nice. Unfortunately I have a Mac and a PC on my desk now so I'll continue using Synergy for the time being.

Wow, ive been waiting for this. Too late now with GPU's that can handle multiple monitors or buying a cheaper gpu that can power a third or more monitors.

Sikh said,
Wow, ive been waiting for this. Too late now with GPU's that can handle multiple monitors or buying a cheaper gpu that can power a third or more monitors.

This is for over-the-network control of PCs with a single mouse / keyboard combination.

Unfortunately the main feature it has over Input Director and Synergy (drag and drop) doesn't work very well as it only drops on to a folder on the desktop. The most annoying thing is the mouse speed depends on the connection speed. Back to Input Director for now since it allows file copying when folders are shared (not drag and drop though), not switching in screen corners (really handy). Will definitely keep an eye on it and this might motivate me to get Synergy working properly with UAC (which is possible but not fun).

Antcodd said,
Unfortunately the main feature it has over Input Director and Synergy (drag and drop) doesn't work very well as it only drops on to a folder on the desktop. The most annoying thing is the mouse speed depends on the connection speed. Back to Input Director for now since it allows file copying when folders are shared (not drag and drop though), not switching in screen corners (really handy). Will definitely keep an eye on it and this might motivate me to get Synergy working properly with UAC (which is possible but not fun).

Multiplicity Pro from Stardock does all of this already btw.

I also discovered that this program only uses the desktop folder for drag n drop. If you select something on Computer A with the RMB and Copy, then move your mouse to Computer B and use RMB and Paste, the file goes straight where you want it to.

Since the program has this functionality, I don't see why it's using the desktop folder by default. Hopefully that will be a setting we can disable in an upcoming version. 8)

Edited by excalpius, Sep 11 2011, 6:22am :

WOO! A replacement for Input Director. I like using Microsoft's software because it is usually higher quality than the alternatives.

One use will be to be able to drag & drop files between virtual machines! Something that VirtualBox can't do regardless of the number of requests from its userbase.

xfx said,
One use will be to be able to drag & drop files between virtual machines! Something that VirtualBox can't do regardless of the number of requests from its userbase.

Where is warwagon....

I have been using Multiplicity for some years now, it allows you to use a single keyboard and mouse to control up to 5 PCs on a LAN. Just move the mouse pointer to any screen and select a window and that is the one the keyboard works on.

cypherboy said,
I have been using Multiplicity for some years now, it allows you to use a single keyboard and mouse to control up to 5 PCs on a LAN. Just move the mouse pointer to any screen and select a window and that is the one the keyboard works on.

With this you can also lock all machines at the same time as well.

chrispinto said,
Looks like they've taken the OS X Lion "AirDrop" concept and extended it even further. Cool idea

Yeah, since it predates OS X...see other posts above.

I always thought the main use for synergy instead of just an extra monitor was so you could use more than one OS at a time but the drag n drop across computers looks cool

GiedriusVarnas said,
in my room usually i have 6 woking pc so its really good solution

Six in your room? wow! I don't even have enough plug sockets, either that or I'd overload the circuit and burn the house down! lol

Inklin said,

Six in your room? wow! I don't even have enough plug sockets, either that or I'd overload the circuit and burn the house down! lol

lol im glad I dont pay your electric bill

excalpius said,

And Multiplicity...and Synergy...and...


And yet NONE of them can drag and drop. As far as Multiplicity I would not install anything made by Stardock or pay $49.95 for any Stardock software.

Without any fanboyism, I just wanted to say if you wanted a similar setup on a mac only setup, theres a cool program that does this called Teleport (Copy Paste, Drag Files, Mouse/Keyboard sharing etc) and for Multiplatform theres Synergy as a few people have mentioned. Deff nice to see MS developing small apps like this for free Wonder if they could make this multiplatform?

NimrodUK said,
Wonder if they could make this multiplatform?

I wish they would, but I doubt it. It seems that Microsoft has all but forgotten how to actually make a multiplatform app.

roadwarrior said,

I wish they would, but I doubt it. It seems that Microsoft has all but forgotten how to actually make a multiplatform app.

No, it seems like Microsoft doesn't feel like kissing the butts of Apple and Canonical with high-quality apps since they don't even bother making good apps for Windows. Just look at Safari, iTunes, QuickTime, and Wubi

roadwarrior said,

I wish they would, but I doubt it. It seems that Microsoft has all but forgotten how to actually make a multiplatform app.

Huh? Microsoft makes a lot of things on other OS'... Office for Mac is just a single example...

roadwarrior said,

I wish they would, but I doubt it. It seems that Microsoft has all but forgotten how to actually make a multiplatform app.

Thats a good thing. No need to waste resources on a tiny sliver of the market which your consumers could care less about. Microsoft is not some third party company, they own Windows, so they should make Windows the best.

roadwarrior said,

I wish they would, but I doubt it. It seems that Microsoft has all but forgotten how to actually make a multiplatform app.

do you know what Microsoft Garage is? did you read the article which mentions what it is... so if a developer doesn't care to find a way to make their innovation for other OS you cant blame, microsoft, its up to these amazing guys making innovations by themselves... and they work at microsoft so...

and second, there is Office for Mac... oh yeah, they forgot how to. isnt it big enough?
windows phone connector?... oh yeah, they dont make anything good for other OS.... /s

PlogCF said,

No, it seems like Microsoft doesn't feel like kissing the butts of Apple and Canonical with high-quality apps since they don't even bother making good apps for Windows. Just look at Safari, iTunes, QuickTime, and Wubi

Safari and iTunes on Windows match the OS X version feature for feature, and are released at the same time as the OS X versions.

That is what I mean by a "multiplatform app".

@EmilyTheStrange (and everyone ese who replied mentioning Office, etc.)

Office Mac is a joke compared to the Windows version, and Windows Phone Connector is severely feature limited compared to the Zune software. While both are nice in their own right, they are not feature-for-feature matches with the Windows versions. Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player for OS X were abandoned ages ago, and again, they were never exact matches of the Windows versions anyway. The closest thing they have to a true multiplatform app is Messenger.

The really sad thing about Office is that LibreOffice probably has more features and better compatibility with Office for Windows than Office Mac does!

roadwarrior said,

Safari and iTunes on Windows match the OS X version feature for feature, and are released at the same time as the OS X versions.

That is what I mean by a "multiplatform app".

@EmilyTheStrange (and everyone ese who replied mentioning Office, etc.)

Office Mac is a joke compared to the Windows version, and Windows Phone Connector is severely feature limited compared to the Zune software. While both are nice in their own right, they are not feature-for-feature matches with the Windows versions. Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player for OS X were abandoned ages ago, and again, they were never exact matches of the Windows versions anyway. The closest thing they have to a true multiplatform app is Messenger.

The really sad thing about Office is that LibreOffice probably has more features and better compatibility with Office for Windows than Office Mac does!

With the exception of Safari, iTunes and Quicktime are buggy, bloated and resource hungry on all 3 Windows Machines of varying specs that I've had.

roadwarrior said,

Safari and iTunes on Windows match the OS X version feature for feature, and are released at the same time as the OS X versions.

That is what I mean by a "multiplatform app".

@EmilyTheStrange (and everyone ese who replied mentioning Office, etc.)

Office Mac is a joke compared to the Windows version, and Windows Phone Connector is severely feature limited compared to the Zune software. While both are nice in their own right, they are not feature-for-feature matches with the Windows versions. Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player for OS X were abandoned ages ago, and again, they were never exact matches of the Windows versions anyway. The closest thing they have to a true multiplatform app is Messenger.

The really sad thing about Office is that LibreOffice probably has more features and better compatibility with Office for Windows than Office Mac does!


Safari iTunes and Quicktime are buggy bloated and don't even fit the Windows UI! Where as Office Mac was built just for the Mac and it's UI. So to recap anything Apple makes for the PC SUCKS!!!

Just installed it on my Laptop and Desktop, aside from a little lag due to the network it's the perfect solution for multiple computers.


um.... this sort of thing has been around for a while.... why is it getting attention now? cause someone at microsoft did it?

look up synergy+, I have been sharing my mouse and keyboard for years and can even use the same clipboard. the only good thing about this thing is the moving files thing but that's offset by the fact that it's for PCs only where as synergy+ can be used on multiple platforms.

capr said,

um.... this sort of thing has been around for a while.... why is it getting attention now? cause someone at microsoft did it?

look up synergy+, I have been sharing my mouse and keyboard for years and can even use the same clipboard. the only good thing about this thing is the moving files thing but that's offset by the fact that it's for PCs only where as synergy+ can be used on multiple platforms.

*sigh* the whole point of the article was the copy/paste seemlessly. We know Synergy has done the KVM thing for years, but they don't do the copy/paste.

briangw said,

*sigh* the whole point of the article was the copy/paste seemlessly. We know Synergy has done the KVM thing for years, but they don't do the copy/paste.

Multiplicity does...

excalpius said,

Multiplicity does...

I did not know that. I have a copy of it but dropped it to use Input Director since it seemed to perform much better.

New and innovative eh?
Synergy has been around doing the same thing for quite a while and across platforms (Linux, Windows, OS X).
There is also InputDirector (windows only)...
And there are more like MouseShare and OS X only teleport...

Maybe this is easier to set up though, who knows, but new and innovative, nah not really.

Would be a neat feature to put in Windows 8 though.

Leonick said,
New and innovative eh?
Synergy has been around doing the same thing for quite a while and across platforms (Linux, Windows, OS X).
There is also InputDirector (windows only)...
And there are more like MouseShare and OS X only teleport...

Maybe this is easier to set up though, who knows, but new and innovative, nah not really.

Would be a neat feature to put in Windows 8 though.

And Multiplicity from Stardock...

I think this guy used Bing instead of Google when he was looking for a solution to his problem. 8P

It would be nice to have. sadly I cannot get it to work here, I have the same problems with homegroups, It's my wifi network, hard wired computers cannot see wireless devices and vice versa with this trashy virgin media superhub. it's either both hard wired or both wireless - neither are exactly possible.

Inklin said,
It would be nice to have. sadly I cannot get it to work here, I have the same problems with homegroups, It's my wifi network, hard wired computers cannot see wireless devices and vice versa with this trashy virgin media superhub. it's either both hard wired or both wireless - neither are exactly possible.

Multiplicity works across wired and wireless devices. I own the pro version but I'm testing out this new application just in case. 8)

excalpius said,

Multiplicity works across wired and wireless devices. I own the pro version but I'm testing out this new application just in case. 8)

I'm pretty sure this and Homegroups would normally too but my superhub isn't allowing it.

TechDudeGeorge said,
Did anyone read this as Microsoft Garbage at first?
I did. But I was surprised when I see the thing. It is awesome. It should be integrated to windows itself so we never have to go back and forth or use 3rd party apps.

FMH said,
I hope it makes it into W8.

If you go to their site it says it is (will be) compatible with upcoming Windows.

Hmm, plugging keyboard and mouse to a tablet just got much easier, but still need another pc that serves as a dock.

Yes, that's right; W8 will support legacy apps.

But I was talking about an integration inside the operating system.

Enron said,
Now if they could make a copy & paste across PCs.

It already allows sharing clipboard between machines, just tested it too.

Enron said,
Now if they could make a copy & paste across PCs.

it can. did you read it or listen to it all the way?

capr said,

it can. did you read it or listen to it all the way?

Thanks, I watched the video now, couldn't view it earlier... and going by the article, I thought the copy paste was just for files but the video explains it better.

Damn, this is something I thought of a few years ago! At work I have to work on two different machines/domains for security reasons and I thought it would be cool to copy whatever I wanted up to a certain amount of MB then paste onto the other system.

Never looked into it though.

And now I've got no use for it

Quick Shot said,
Awesome! =O

Yeah. Most of this functionally has been around for years with projects like Synergy. It's not exactly innovative but it does appear that they implemented it pretty well. I can only wonder if this will be built-in to Windows 8, the program itself has a Metro-based UI.

P!P said,

Yeah. Most of this functionally has been around for years with projects like Synergy. It's not exactly innovative but it does appear that they implemented it pretty well. I can only wonder if this will be built-in to Windows 8, the program itself has a Metro-based UI.


have used synergy before. pretty sure it just shares the mouse and maybe keyboard/clipboard, but not drag/drop file transfer.

P!P said,

Yeah. Most of this functionally has been around for years with projects like Synergy. It's not exactly innovative but it does appear that they implemented it pretty well. I can only wonder if this will be built-in to Windows 8, the program itself has a Metro-based UI.

That would be awesome if it was built into Windows!