Microsoft revealed new mice and keyboard options aimed at Windows 8--specifically Windows 8 tablets. The touch gesture-enabled mice fill a void left with traditional mice, and resolve one of the biggest issues with Windows 8.
For mobile business professionals, a dockable Windows 8 tablet can fill the role of mobile device while on the go, and PC while back at the office. The available ports and specs will vary from one device to the next, and it remains to be seen what Windows 8 tablet hardware will bring to the table, but Windows 8 Pro tablets should be able to replace a desktop or laptop PC for most users.
While connected at the desk, the tablet can be used in conjunction with a full-size monitor, physical keyboard, and mouse--delivering the same processing power and functionality as many notebook PCs. Of course, it’s also possible to run Windows 8 on traditional PC hardware.
Using Windows 8 at your desk may be a problem, though. The Windows 8 Metro interface is great…as long as you’re using a touch-enabled device like a tablet. However, trying to navigate the Metro Start screen, or access some of the unique capabilities of Windows 8 using a traditional keyboard and mouse can be tricky. The hot corners and keyboard shortcuts are frustrating and unintuitive.
The great thing about the new Sculpt Touch Mouse and Wedge Mouse from Microsoft is that they enable users to interact with Windows 8 using the same pinching and swiping gestures they’d use if they were tapping directly on the touchscreen display of the tablet. Even from a standard desktop or laptop, having access to the touch gestures at your fingertips will make it much simpler and more efficient to navigate Windows 8.
Windows 7 is a tough act to follow, and Windows 8 seems to have its work cut out for it. Using Windows 8 on standard PC hardware with a normal mouse feels a lot like you’re still using Windows 7--just with an extra layer of eye candy that gets in the way and adds unnecessary steps to get to the same tools and functions. These touch-enabled mice from Microsoft will play a critical role in enabling users to embrace the Metro interface and really take advantage of what Windows 8 brings to the table.
As great as these new mice are, Microsoft--or its hardware partners--should seriously consider offering a touchpad peripheral similar to Apple’s Magic Trackpad as well. It makes sense when dealing with a touchscreen-enabled interface to be able to use the same gestures and conventions whether using the tablet directly while on the go, or interacting with it while sitting at your desk.
Another option for next generation hardware would be to develop new office furniture designed to put the monitor in a more convenient, and ergonomically accessible position so you could interact with a touchscreen display. But, I’ve been to both Ikea and Office Max recently, and I don’t see any signs of that vision coming to life any time soon.