My brand new Microsoft Touch Mouse arrived yesterday – hurrah! - and here are my initial impressions.
Many of you will be thinking that this is just Microsoft ripping off the Apple ‘Magic Mouse’ – but what these people fail to remember is that Microsoft Research invented this technology, showed previews of their working prototypes back in 2009, way before Apple’s mouse. However in true Microsoft style, it has taken them a very long time to get this thing to market.
EDIT: As it turns out Microsoft and Apple were working on designs at the same time with different implementations (Capactitive/Optical respectively)
The packaging is very well designed with a flip-top box lid that exposes the mouse in a kind of jewel case design was very pleasing.
Generally as a mouse its a very reasonable, responsive unit. Since it uses BlueTrack, its more sensitive and works on more surfaces than any other regular red LED mouse.
My last mouse was a full-size wireless BlueTrack explorer, which was very ergonomically shaped for comfort. This mouse is not very shaped and has a very straight profile – the upside is that it can be used in either hand, but after a full-day of use I could feel the difference.
Another major down-side is that it uses regular AA batteries and doesn’t have a recharging dock, so I will have to re-fuel it with rechargeable batteries and cycle them through. Even though the specs say the battery life should be multiple months – real-world use will tell.
The transceiver is super-tiny and there is a place for it on the under-side of the mouse for those that travel. For some mysterious reason it comes with a high quality USB extension cable for you to plug the transceiver into in case your PC is far away from your work-area. Weird because the transceiver is supposed to have a fairly long range anyway *shrug*.
So now the important part – Multi-touch Gestures.
In my use of the mouse, the gestures work very well, and are genuinely useful. I found myself instantly finding the touch scrolling and side to side panning useful. The gestures are all quite easy to execute with the exception of the ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’ gestures where I found I really have to kink my thumb up and at an angle to get it to recognise it.
The only major disappointment here is that none of the gestures except for scrolling appear to work through a Remote Desktop session. For most people this will be a non-issue, but for me, I spend the majority of my conscious life using a Remote Desktop to server somewhere and the ‘Back’ gesture doesn’t work - Grrr. So with that in mind I wouldn’t recommend this mouse for anyone in software development or IT administration – which is a big pity. Maybe when more of the servers I control get RemoteFX this will become less of an issue, but I don’t think that will happen for a few years.
In conclusion I wouldn’t say this mouse has changed my life, and I reserve the right to go back to my far more ergonomic, comfortable, rechargeable BlueTrack Explorer – but it certainly is a new and interesting way to interact with Windows 7. The gage of its success will be if I miss the gestures in a few months time when I sit down a computer with a regular mouse. Maybe I will think to myself ‘A regular mouse – how quaint’