Design and hardware
Microsoft has paid close attention to the design of the Touch Mouse. The mouse features rounded soft corners and a comfortable slope to rest your hand and wrist on. The surface of the mouse is made of matte plastic and features rows of raised dots and x’s. The rows outline the multitouch parts of the mouse surface. The bottom of the mouse features a shiny white plastic surface with quick access to the two AA batteries for the device. Microsoft has also created an area inside the bottom of the mouse to house the USB transceiver, presumably aimed at laptop users. Microsoft also ships a USB extension cable as part of the package to minimise any potential interference.
Microsoft has designed the mouse for ambidextrous use. Both left and right-handed users can operate it with ease. The mouse fits either hand comfortably. The Touch Mouse also features BlueTrack technology. The technology enables smooth tracking on most surfaces apart from clear glass or mirrors.
The setup of the Touch Mouse is surprisingly simple and speedy. The Touch Mouse works on a variety of operating systems, including Apple’s OS X, but the touch gestures only work correctly on Windows 7. To setup the mouse, you simply insert the USB transceiver into a spare USB port and Windows 7 will automatically install the relevant drivers required. Windows 7 users will also be promoted to download the latest IntelliPoint software to support multitouch gestures. Once the installation is complete, Microsoft presents a video demonstration of how to use the multitouch gestures of the device during a quick setup guide.
Software and gestures
Microsoft’s software and settings features of the device are somewhat limited. Touch Mouse users can customise touch sensitivity easily but gestures are either on or off. The mouse supports a range of gestures. Using one finger, you can scroll vertically or horizontally and a quick flick in either direction will trigger a fast scroll. Using two fingers up and down will maximise or minimise a window. Using two fingers left and right will snap a window to the side of the screen using Windows 7′s Aero Snap feature.
Using three fingers allows you to manage multiple windows. A three finger slide up will enter a task switch mode similar to Apple’s Expose desktop view. Three fingers down will show the desktop. Perhaps the most useful gesture is the thumbing one. Slipping your thumb to the left or right will page back or forward in applications that support forward or back commands like Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has created a capable touch mouse which demonstrates the way the company is heading. The Touch Mouse is the tip of the iceberg for some interesting desktop computing advances that Microsoft’s Research department has been planning for years. With Microsoft’s next generation of Windows on the horizon, you can only imagine how this will advance coupled with the hardware improvements Microsoft is planning to support in Windows 8. The mouse is a sturdy, well built and comfortable device to use. The joy of gesture support in Windows 7 makes this a must have gadget for every Windows 7 user. Just imagine the possibilities in Windows 8 and it’s an investment for the future.