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Microsoft Mouse: A Symptom?

This week Microsoft unveiled a new ergonomic mouse. It was a long time ago that microsoft unveiled their first mouse, and that coincided with the promotion of Windows, the new graphical operating system that moved users away from their keyboards and into repetitive finger clicking. Selling that mouse was clearly in the best interests of Microsoft. Making mice better was clearly helpful to Microsoft Windows sales.

Scroller? Multiple buttons? Laser mouse to eliminate mechnical parts and dirt collection? All good. Ergonomic mouse? Clever marketing, and good for Windows sales (and at that time, Microsoft Office sales). More clicking, better mice, fewer lawsuits for repetitive strain injuries. Good good good.

Fast forward to this week. A new ergo-ergonomic mouse. Tied directly to exciting new features of Vist…. nope, sorry. No new bells and whistles on the mouse which work only with the new “Vista”. So why did Microsoft develop this new mouse? And why are they promoting it?

Mice are practically a commodity item. Sure you can get $80 for the newest, most serious mouse but does that pay for real, scientific ergonomic research carried out in laboratories staffed with real kinesiologists, scientists, biomedical engineers and or ergonomicists? Maybe. I don’t really know the production numbers or the costs. But it seems “off” to me that Microsoft, a software company struggling to keep up on the software/internet front, is also trying to be a hardware company for computer mice of all things.

Also this week we see an announcement of a new display screen, and web camera. And I see how it all fits together in their eyes:

Microsoft Hardware is evolving and transforming the desktop computing experience with the industry’s first wireless rechargeable and backlit desktop, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000, dubbed the “ultimate keyboard” when it was unveiled in June. Today the company is shedding light on this groundbreaking desktop in addition to launching two other new sleek desktops — the Microsoft® Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 and the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 — along with its first rechargeable mouse, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000. Whether users are finishing a report at the office or sitting back to watch a movie in comfort at home, the innovative technologies these products harness offer the flexibility to move between work and fun with comfort and ease, and in ultimate style.

So it’s the entire user experience; the tactile experience. Handle the mouse, touch the screen, feel like you are at work when you are relaxing at home at home when you are in your office at work.

I thought software sells hardware. Has that changed again?