Microsoft’s peripherals are dead. Long live Microsoft (Surface) peripherals.
After decades of shipping Microsoft-branded peripherals like the Microsoft Modern Keyboard, Microsoft is calling it quits. Instead, Microsoft will shift its emphasis to Surface-branded peripherals—which include some similar peripherals, sold under the Surface brand. But not all.
“Going forward, we are focusing on our Windows PC accessories portfolio under the Surface brand,” says Dan Laycock, senior communications manager at Microsoft, in a statement given to The Verge. “We will continue to offer a range of Surface branded PC accessories—including mice, keyboards, pens, docks, adaptive accessories, and more. Existing Microsoft-branded PC accessories like mice, keyboards, and webcams will continue to be sold in existing markets at existing sell-in prices while supplies last.”
It’s not clear, however, how closely Microsoft’s Surface peripherals lineup will overlap with its existing peripherals, raising the question of whether Microsoft is actually partially withdrawing from the market, or if the logo will simply change on the box. Microsoft’s Surface Ergonomic Keyboard (sold out, incidentally) looks virtually identical to the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard, though one is covered in Alcantara fabric and the other is plastic. The Surface Arc Mouse looks pretty much the same as the Microsoft Arc Mouse, too, though in different colors. But others, like the Microsoft Designer Keyboard, don’t have any Surface equivalents.
It’s an ironic twist given Microsoft’s news that its Surface business has suffered a 30 percent drop in sales, and that inventories in reseller channels remain high. That usually suggests sales are in the offing.
The problem is that Surface is a premium brand, and Microsoft charges accordingly. At Amazon, the Microsoft Arc Mouse is $48.58, while Microsoft prices the Surface Arc Mouse at $66.99. Microsoft also doesn’t make Surface equivalents for everything in its product line—Microsoft’s Lifecam webcam, for example. (We asked Microsoft for additional comment, and we’ll update this post accordingly.)
Interestingly, neither “Microsoft” nor “Surface” keyboards make the cut in our roundup of the best wireless keyboards, and Microsoft products don’t appear in our list of the best webcams, either. But the Microsoft Arc Mouse and Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse make the cut as some of the best computer mice on the market—for now, anyway.
Microsoft launched the Microsoft Natural Keyboard in 1994, meaning that we’ve had several decades of Microsoft products. But all good things must come to an end, apparently.