Windows 8 Gets Touch-Compatible Mice, Keyboards

Microsoft's new Sculpt and Wedge lines of peripherals will make it easier to navigate through Windows 8 touch menus, but the convenience comes at a price.
Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features
Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft on Monday rolled out pricey new lines of Bluetooth-compatible hardware aimed at tablets and PCs that will run the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

"For 30 years we've been creating products designed to light up features in Microsoft software and making it easier to get things done; it's part of our DNA," said Brett Kelleran, general manager for Microsoft hardware, in a statement.

"In that way, it's fitting that we are showcasing our first set of hardware products designed and optimized for Windows 8," said Kelleran. The new lines will carry the brand names Wedge and Sculpt.

The Wedge Touch Mouse, priced at $69.95, features four-way touch scrolling that will allow users to employ a combination of touch and traditional mousing to navigate their way around Windows 8. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard, at $79.95, is a full-size keyboard that can be used with tablets or PCs, and features numerous hot-key commands for Windows 8 features like Search and Share. It also converts into a tablet stand.

[ Microsoft tablets will have to deliver on value and performance to compete with the iPad. See: Windows 8 Tablets: Will The Price Be Right? ]

The less-expensive Sculpt line also includes a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

The Sculpt Touch Mouse, priced at $49.45, has four-way touch scrolling and allows users to swipe through files and documents with gestures that mimic on-screen touch input. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, also $49.95, is designed for on-the-go users, weighing about 1 lb. A battery-saving mode automatically powers down the keyboard when it's not in use.

Microsoft said the new hardware will be available "in the coming weeks and months."

The company has also updated its existing Touch Mouse product for Windows 8 gesture compatibility. The Wedge, Sculpt, and Touch devices will be compatible with Microsoft's own Surface tablet, as well as tablets, PCs, and laptops from OEMs. "We've thought about each and every detail to ensure our customers have a great mobile experience," said Kelleran.

That may be, but it's open to question how many users will want to pay about $70 for a mouse or $80 for a keyboard. It's likely numerous third-party peripheral makers, such as Logitech, will release their own, lower-cost mice and keyboards for Windows 8.

Microsoft has said that Windows 8 systems will debut in stores on Oct. 26. The new operating system will be available in four editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows 8 RT. The last is Microsoft's official name for Windows On ARM, which will run on tablet chips manufactured by Qualcomm, Motorola, and Nvidia.

Editor's Choice
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer