Microsoft Innovation?

Innovation is an IT buzzword that has never seemed to go out.  It’s what Microsoft always cites when representing itself in various lawsuits, cf. "we are disappointed by the ruling, which will stifle our freedom to innovate."

I’ve never been too convinced that MS software shows any signs of innovation, but today at Best Buy I saw a piece of MS hardware whose innovation impressed me.  Some of their new mice have scroll wheels that are "analog" -- they don’t click when you scroll them, they’re smooth-rolling.  It feels really neat and I couldn’t stop rolling the wheel on the mice at the store.  It may not be hugely innovative, since a non-clicking wheel would be the default and you’d have to add the click feeling, so MS basically just left out that click-adding part that’s always been there until now.  But still, I haven’t seen any other mouse manufacturer (read: Logitech) offering mouse wheels that scroll smoothly.

Some of the mice also featured sideways-scrolling.  Instead of being on a fixed axis, the mouse wheel is mounted in some kind of swively thing that lets you rock the wheel from side to side.  I think that’s a neat idea, but it’s not for me.  I found it slightly tough and unnatural to move my index finger from side to side that way with enough force to activate the feature.  And conversely if it were designed to require less force, you’d probably be accidentally side-scrolling all the time.

I’ve also never liked using mice with more than three buttons (three meaning two plus the wheel), nor mice that are shaped asymmetrically to fit your hand.  So to me the side-scrolling feature is just another thing to make a mouse more complex, when I already thought the 5- and 7-button mice were getting complex enough.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies


01. Dec 20, 2004 at 06:31pm by Kev:

Not trying to start a flame war here, but I don’t even like to use a mouse anymore. I’ve been using a Logitech trackball for about 4 years, both at home and at work, and for me it was as good as going from Windows to Linux. The model I have is called the TrackMan Marble wheel. It has 3 buttons, the middle being a scroll wheel, but it is also clickable for third button usage, and the ball is controlled by thumb. It is very comfortable since the layout is just like a right hand essentially.

/end of the Logitech commercial
//I didn’t intend to ever be a salesman/spokesperson

02. Dec 20, 2004 at 07:03pm by Anthony:

> Not trying to start a flame war here, but I don’t
> even like to use a mouse anymore.

You jerk!  Banned!!

Muahahaha, just kidding.

I’ve never tried a trackball.  They’ve always seemed so strange to me.  And the range of motion of my thumb is much less than that of my hand -- even with my palm resting on the desk, but even moreso when I move my whole hand including palm -- so I think I’d have to use a lot more pointer acceleration than I’d like.  But again, I’ve never actually used one.

03. Dec 20, 2004 at 08:21pm by Kev:

The thing I like the most about the trackball is that your hand is basically in the same position, and your wrist has to move very little. You should try one the next time you’re at Best Buy. (:

04. Dec 21, 2004 at 07:32pm by Chamander2kool:

Hahaha, I never ever ever never never ever ever never never never ever liked trackball mouses.

My mouse has atleast 6 buttons and the Navigation buttons are a MUST.

Trackball mouses are easy on the wirst but its hard to get accurate

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