The release of Microsoft’s next-generation Windows operating system, Vista, may have been delayed until next year, but the software giant is already sending to market new Vista-ready peripherals, including new multi-function wireless mice and comfort-designed keyboards unveiled this week.
Microsoft said its new PC components would be capable of advanced functions when used with its forthcoming Vista operating system. The next version of Windows has been postponed repeatedly but is now due to become available in January.
The firm’s US$250 Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 keyboard is designed to work with Windows Media Center Edition as well as Vista. The device includes Bluetooth wireless for remote PC control and backlit keys that turn on automatically by sensing the level of light in the room. A more basic version, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, will retail for $150. The keyboards are slated to hit store shelves in the first two months of next year.
Microsoft aimed for functionality with its four-in-one Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000, a combination mouse, slide presenter, laser pointer and media remote control that will be available next month for about US$100.
Building on the success of its existing Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, Redmond also unveiled the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard that will sell for about $60 and is available now, and the Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, which will retail for $80 when it becomes available early next year.
The firm also showed off its LifeCam NX-6000 — a compact Webcam expected to cost $99.95 when it becomes available this month.
Making these these products available to consumers prior to the release of the Vista OS makes sense, Endpoint Technologies Associates President Roger Kay told TechNewsWorld. “You don’t want to stop the hardware because you’re waiting for the software,” he said.
Mice and More
While Logitech owns the top spot in the PC peripherals market, Microsoft has managed to leverage its brand recognition to become the No. 2 player in the space, according to Kay.
“Microsoft is putting up a pretty good fight,” he said, pointing out that peripherals are Logitech’s main focus, while for Microsoft, it is a “side business.”
While some industry observers have minimized the importance of peripherals as notebooks emerge as the dominant computing form factor, companies such as Microsoft and Logitech say there is still high demand for mice and other add-ons.
These devices, along with cameras, remote controllers and other hardware, have advanced alongside the computers to which they connect.
“Peripherals count,” Kay said. “That’s the way you experience your computer.”