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back to article STROKE this mouse to make apps POP, says Microsoft

Microsoft has unveiled two mice that for the first time pack a button that sends users straight to the Windows 8 Start screen, the unloved abode of The interface Formerly Known As Metro (TIFKAM). The Sculpt Comfort Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Mouse are both unremarkable rodents, unless you get excited about wireless connections and …

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Is it just me?

Is it just me, or does the "comfort mouse" look rather *uncomfortable* to use? The shape looks as if it would force your wrist out of a straight alignment; and I can't see how it would be easy to use the blue Windows button or the little wheel at the bottom left.

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Re: Is it just me?

I thought the same thing, so I did a little research. The only way to "stroke" the blue area would be to remove your fingers from the mouse. This is for the people who don't have fingers to notice the loss of functionality. As far as the wheel, well there is also people who don't even have hands. Now, the overall shape of it is for people who can only use their butt crack. And people think Microsoft doesn't listen!

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Meh

Sort of defeats

Sort of defeats the idea of using Win8 as a touch screen operating system if they are bringing out a dedicated mouse for it?

Is this a sign that it has been a fail?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sort of defeats

If Microsoft had brought out a tablet OS that wasn't compatible with Windows applications then would it succeed?

There's various ways you can create a tablet OS, scale up a phone OS or scale down a desktop OS. Both approaches can succeed, but when you scale up a phone OS you're basically duplicating effort as you have to start implementing all those enterprise features all over again. Networking, domain support, ACLs etc....

What enterprise customers wanted from a Microsoft tablet was Windows 8. Those that wanted a scaled up phone OS have already got iPads.

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JDX
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defeats the idea of using Win8 as a touch screen operating system

No because in case you hadn't noticed, W8 is targeting the 99% of desktops and laptops that don't have touch.

It seems a sensible idea but I'm sure I could easily configure one of the spare buttons on my existing MS mouse (Laser Mouse 5000, very nice it is too)

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Big Brother

Re: Is it just me?

The "comfort" bit is meant to offset the discomfort caused by TIFKAM.

The discomfort from the comfort mouse will be addressed by a future product.

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Re: Is it just me?

The left picture is rotated 90 degrees CCW. So your hand will be fine, you'll just get a crick in your neck from using that mouse.

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Holmes

Re: Sort of defeats

>If Microsoft had brought out a tablet OS that wasn't compatible with Windows applications then would it succeed?

What do you mean "If"? Microsoft *did* release a tablet OS that isn't compatible with Windows applications, its called Windows RT.

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HCV
Unhappy

Yeah, about that Windows button...

I have to ask: whose brilliant idea was it to have a key that's both a modifier key AND a function key?

As a recent conscript to Windows 8, I can't tell you how many times I've held down the Windows button instead of the control key (part of this is Mac reflexes). If I accidentally hold down, say, the Shift or Alt key, no problem. However, releasing the Windows key without pressing another key of course means the computer no longer thinks I was going to do something useful, and instead interprets the keypress as "Take me to the land of shiny colored boxes." Argh.

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Coat

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

I suppose they thought you'd be too busy docking and undocking your Surface to get any work done...

... Ohh you mean you don't have one?!

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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

As far as I can remember, what you describe is normal operation. However, you mentioned holding down the Shift key, if I remember that can enable "Sticky" keys. I always remembered that being a problem, especially if it was configured to always enable "Sticky" without a prompt.

As far as Winkey (or "Home" key, whatever), I still use it on Linux just as I once did in Windows. Even though it is labeled as a Microsoft key, I've grown to like the placement of it, even when I have to map it to be just another ALT. Under certain circumstances, I even use it to cycle through terminals in a manner similar to selecting tty's.

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Holmes

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

You mean the windows key that's existed and operated in a similar way since Windows 95? It's not a Windows 8 thing you're complaining about, previously it just opened the Start menu (and effectively still is)

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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

The Windows key has long been the bane of gamers. Frantically operating the controls to your FPS as fast as your fingers can move... then one misplaced digit and you're at the desktop. With two video mode switches between you and your game, and a need for directX to largely initialise, it can be up to a minute's delay getting back in.

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JDX
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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

As someone who switches between Mac & PC I share your pain but I think it is the difference between the two OS which is to blame not either OS doing anything wrong.

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Alert

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

You could consider getting a screwdriver under it and levering it off. If you're lucky the switch itself will still be usable, but it will be below the hight of the other keys and take a deliberate action to press it.

This is at your risk. I take no responsibility if you break your (or your companies) keyboard,

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Windows

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

I had this problem once, so I switched from a 79 to a 78 key setup (with the help of a flathead). Maybe it's just me but I always have liked a minimalist keyboard (don't even get me started on those ones with a media player key, IE key, sound vol key, facefail key, and on and on...).

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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

a key that's both a modifier key AND a function key

The Windows key isn't quite unique in this respect. In many applications, pressing Alt shifts focus to the system menu (or to the menu bar in Firefox, as I've just discovered). This is annoying with the kind of application that uses numerous multiple key combinations (Eclipse, IntelliJ, I'm looking at you) because I often press Alt while I'm trying to remember the other keys in the combination.

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Headmaster

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

"However, releasing the Windows key without pressing another key of course means the computer no longer thinks I was going to do something useful, and instead interprets the keypress as "Take me to the land of shiny colored boxes."

Correct, but another press on the same key should jump you back to the desktop.

Two finger Windows-key combos have always been amazingly useful. Presumably you could use these devices in a slightly modfied way.

FWIW, all key combo shortcuts are listed under "accessibility" in the help files. A few of these under one's belt takes the sting out of any unintuitive interface.

Also, I think that most of my games disable the win-key when in-game. My keyboard can do this too.

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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

I'm a nerd and every time I get a PC I patch the registry so that the Windows key doesn't function.

Not that I'm going to be getting another PC for a while, of course.

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HCV

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

A late reply...

it's really both. The fact that I accidentally hit the Windows key as often as I do is certainly due to the difference between the two OSes. (And: Microsoft's introduction of the Control key as a function modifier ranks right up there in the "teethgrindingly annoying decisions" Hall of Fame, right along with their using the backslash as the file path separator instead of slash, by the way. And yes, I *know* why they did both. Doesn't make it any better.)

But -- having a key that acts in two ways like this is still a bad decision, as well. Those who have pointed out that some Linux desktops do the same thing with "Alt" doesn't make that a good decision, either. Nor does the fact that the Windows key has behaved that way since before Windows 8.

I did finally discover on my own that pressing it again toggles back from Chiclet land to the desktop.

Oh and yes, I also very much hate the "multiple presses of Shift activates Sticky Keys" feature, and turn it off whenever I remember it. (I remember it, of course, when I press the Shift key a few times to wake up a blank screen.) But that doesn't help when I'm working on someone else's computer.

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HCV

Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

Oh yeah, I'm delighted with some of the two-key presses. Windows-L, for example. That's why the "fix it with a table knife" solution is not optimal.

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Meh

Release timing.

You should have saved that snide dig for when their gesture sensors ship, which may actually make TIFKAM vaguely usable in a traditional desktop environment.

That's something that they really should have had on the shelves / built into displays before foisting this shit on us.

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Re: Release timing.

Yeah coz people waving their hands all over the place in an office is going to work isn't it. As if anyone needed further proof that Microsoft's desktop strategy is FUBAR.

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Key off

Yup, just remove the keys you hate. If you bought an even half decent keyboard you can remove the keys that get on your nerves. I personally remove the CapsLock and left Windows key. If you don't know how to find out how to remove a key, then you really shouldn't be reading The Register. As for Win8, who cares. Maybe SP1 will fix it, maybe not. Either way I'm sticking with Win7. When will you people ever learn that you NEVER buy Microsoft (or any other software) until at least SP1 comes out.

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Re: Key off

The problem with that idea is the IT department don't like people removing keys...

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Anonymous Coward

The blue strip looks suspiciously like a plaster

of the type used in the catering industry to ensure that the end user doesn't get any unwelcome surprises

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FAIL

Is that Microsofts fix for an appalling OS?

Surely that can't be Microsoft's fix for such an appalling OS. Oh people want the start menu back, and the desktop - I know let's make a mouse with the start key on it, that'll fix it, and flog it to any fool who's bought Windows 8.

Since installing Windows 8 on my desktop I've found myself using Linux on my laptop more and more, and I certainly wont be replacing my Microsoft trackball with one of these mice anytime soon. The trackball is just way too good and Microsoft now unfortunately don't do trackballs, that is a device back from when Microsoft used to care about human computer interaction, now they've just gone screw HCI we'll do it our way 'cos we're big enough to do it and there ain't nothing anyone can do about it. But if MS think that they're headed for a major downfall.

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Unhappy

Grrrrrr

What's the betting the b'stards produce it in right-hand version only like most of the shaped funky mice...

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You have to laugh... in my experience users of Windows 8 regularly find themselves with things suddenly lurching onto the screen apparently at random - I hardly think that adding yet another stupidly placed button on a mouse which suddenly flips people to that pointless full-screen Duplo start menu is going to make this situation any better.

One of my pet peeves is mice with ridiculous numbers of buttons plastered all over them and embedded in them so that you can barely touch the stupid thing without inadvertently pressing one. Two buttons and a left/right/down clickable scrollwheel is all that's really of practical day-to-day use IMO...

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Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

I honestly don't get what all the fuss is about. I have generally disliked Microsoft's interface design in the past, but have been blown away by just how bloody good Windows 8 is. I appear to be the only one, but come on. Register readers find this OS difficult? What's difficult about it? To open, say, Notepad in Windows 7: click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad; to open Notepad in Windows 8: type "Windows N O T E Enter". MS have taken the Start menu, removed its multiple layers of embedded folders, made it full-screen, given you the ability to easily rearrange everything in it, dragging each button wherever you like and even changing its size, added instant search that activates automatically the moment you start typing, and people miss the old Start menu? Why? It was an awkward pain in the arse; now it's useful.

And I don't have a touchscreen. I keep reading on here that Windows 8 is useless for non-touch devices. It's a major upgrade to my non-touch laptop, and I generally don't even bother plugging a mouse in; just with a touchpad, this OS is great.

I'm not taking the piss here. I've found this thing so ridiculously easy to pick up and so fast and useful, I am genuinely baffled by the apparent failure of the entire rest of Planet Earth to do the same. I'm just disappointed that Microsoft are going to start changing the OS in response to complaints. I hope they don't break my nice new OS.

I'll also add that I find it odd that people are criticising Windows 8 on the grounds that most users are using it as Windows 7. Is that not a good thing? What would Apple do -- indeed, what did they do with the launch of OSX? "We've got a new OS. We're scrapping the old one. If you liked it, fuck you." Microsoft provide, as ever, a world-beating level of backwards-compatibility, clearly having decided to give users years to gradually adjust, and this is somehow proof that they've fucked up? How?

I guess I'm going to get excoriated now. Sorry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

Microsoft needs a hell lot more of a user like you.

Speaking about starting Notepad (actually I always preferred Notepad++) I'd rather use four gentle clicks with my mouse together with a slight move from my wrist. Oh, and without trying to piss on your Windows 8 appreciation parade I will let you know that I use to have an icon for the text editor on my desktop so that will make only two mouse clicks.

Here's the deal I propose, I will accept you really like Windows8 TIFKAM (and I see nothing wrong with it) and in exchange you will reluctantly admit that a vast majority of the world does not. We can still be friends.

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

Oh, no reluctance required. I get that the world doesn't like it; I just find it baffling when people talk about, for instance, how very very difficult, almost impossible it is to find the old Windows 7 desktop.

I too have icons for my most-used apps on my taskbar or in the quick-start area, but I'm always surprised by how many users, even IT pros, don't. If you're going to create a shortcut to an app and put it somewhere convenient, of course you're going to find Windows 8 & Windows 7 roughly the same in terms of the convenience of starting that app, so I didn't think that comparison was worth making. Finding stuff in its default location without any customisation is quicker in 8.

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Facepalm

Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

You said: "to open Notepad in Windows 8: type "Windows N O T E Enter"."

Ummm ... didn't we do that way back with DOS, on the command line? Cannot I do that in the optional terminal window with Linux? So is this great leap forward with Win8 actually going backwards? Is that the great claim to fame with Win8, Sparky? The simplicity of typing commands again? A return to the CLI?

I suppose that's why Windows always had the "run" option buried somewhere, so it could pop up again in Win8, like the dandelions in springtime!

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

Lol, you know

type "Windows N O T E Enter"

Also works in Win 7.

I have just shy of 600 items in my start menu "multiple layers of embedded folders" Are you seriously suggesting that scrolling sideways through 600 tiles on a full screen is a good way to organise or find any of them?

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

I don't think real-time search is quite the same as the CLI, no. If I type "scr" into the CLI, it doesn't instantly offer me a choice of Scrivener, On-Screen Keyboard, and Mobile Digital Scribe. This is CLI to the same extent as Google is.

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

No, I'm seriously suggesting that I like Windows 8 and it works extremely well for me.

That being said, I would suspect that someone with 600 items on their Start menu is an at least fairly advanced user who knows how to do things like create custom toolbars and dock folders on the Taskbar, right? Which you can still do in Windows 8. I do think real-time search is a pretty good way of narrowing down a list of 600, though.

Does that really work in 7? Hit the Windows key and type some letters and it immediately shows you every app on the system whose name contains a word starting with those letters? I honestly never noticed. Still, I find the criticism odd. What exactly is wrong with Windows 8 doing something that worked in Windows 7? Why did I never hear a single complaint from anyone that Windows XP contained some of the same useful features as Windows 2000? How is that a bad thing?

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

"Does that really work in 7? Hit the Windows key and type some letters and it immediately shows you every app on the system whose name contains a word starting with those letters?

Yes. On windows 7 at the moment. Press WIN and n-o-t-e gives:

Programs:

Notepad

Sticky Note

Control Panel:

...

etc.

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

You seem to have somehow missed the point that the badly re"designed" start menu is only the tip of the iceberg; the real hatred is for the rest of the truly idiotic Metro interface, full-screen only applications with gigantic but oddly uninformative toolbars which appear and disappear at (their own) will for example.

And yes, previous versions of Windows, OSX's finder and many open-source launchers allow you to start typing the name of a command or program and hit enter to run it - there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that idea, just virtually everything else that goes along with it in Windows 8.

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Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

I haven't missed the point at all: as I've said a couple of times, I do understand that people can't abide 8. I'm just not one of them, that's all. I'm finding the whole shebang to be quite gloriously easy. Similarly, I understand that IOS represented a revolution in usability despite the fact that I can't use an iPhone without wanting to hurl the bloody thing against a wall.

And I do find some of the complaints weird. Like what's wrong with full-screen-only applications? I'm supposed to want to see the various corners of windows I'm not using in the background, am I? What for? I understand that this is annoying a lot of people, I'm just baffled as to why. Various apps (Scrivener, for instance) advertise their fullscreenness as a seeling point, as it enables you to concentrate on your work without extraneous crap on the screen. For Microsoft to adopt that design ethos OS-wide is great, as far as I'm concerned.

I also note that Windows 8 allows me to instantly search not only for apps but also files, settings, map locations, emails, music, the app store, Web results, etc, all just by typing from the start screen. Windows 7 didn't do that. And I like it.

I think it just annoys me that the people who dislike Windows 8 insist on claiming that everyone hates it. Well, clearly not. I'm not arrogant or naive enough to think I'm completely unlike everyone else in my tastes, so I can't be the only one.

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Trollface

Re: Well, I love Windows 8. There, I said it.

> I don't think real-time search is quite the same as the CLI, no. If I type "scr" into the CLI, it doesn't instantly offer me a choice of Scrivener, On-Screen Keyboard, and Mobile Digital Scribe. This is CLI to the same extent as Google is.

No, they're not the same.

I can do significantly more than start a single application with a (good) CLI than I can with a search box. Ergo, the CLI is vastly superior in many cases.

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The only thing this mouse will pop....

Is itself into the $1 bargain basket in a few months.

TIFKAM is shit but if people really do want to use it on the desktop with mouse then I can't fathom why Microsoft didn't implement a mouse gesture recognition scheme for which a mouse with a dedicated gesture button would be useful.

It is effectively a single touch interface without the stupidity of having to flail your arm around.

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Joke

Re: The only thing this mouse will pop....

Is itself into the $1 bargain basket in a few months.

.... but you'll have to pay $20 online to 'register' it!

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So expect them to be in PoundLand by Xmas

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Holmes

Unbelievable. Microsoft makes an operating system and a user interface that are so bad and so hated that they are almost single-handedly killing the PC industry right now, and their brilliant fix to the problem? A bag on the side of a mouse. You can't make this stuff up folks.

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Anonymous Coward

missing the point..

I think in all the 'wheres my start button gone' ranting Microsoft have managed to miss the point (intentionally or otherwise remains to be seen)

User liked the start button, but what they really wanted back was their nice neat organized menu, taking up a small portion of the screen, not obscuring the work they were doing (for those with a short attention span or lots of distractions around knowing what was already on your screen when you pressed the start button is helpful) Everything was available within a few tiny mouse movements.

The problem with several of the early start replacements is they just booted you back to the Metro start screen, which was absolutely no better than not having the start button at all, if anything it was worse, even more jarring because the behaviour was so unwanted and different.

So a Start button on a mouse does nothing to restore that, because it isn't the button users were missing as much as the menu.

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Mouse and tablet

It works for me.’.. specifically, I favour the Fitaly touchscreen keyboard, a screen stylus like on Surface Pro or some other classy tablets, and a mouse or other type of click-button -separate- from the stylus; Bluetooth, for instance. Point with the pen, click with the mouse. (Duct-tape underneath the mouse so that it doesn't move the pointer.) Tapping with the pen actually interferes with smooth movement of the pointer, and also, the switch in the pen tip is liable to wear out.

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That blue band sounded interesting (though maybe not in the right place on the physical mouse) until I got to the word "store" and then promptly lost interest.

A sensitive band on a mouse that would act like alt+tab or alt+shift+tab (and maybe a small motion would just bring up the alt+tab window?) could be handy if it was located appropriately. Restricting it to windows store apps, when the quality and functionality of said apps is miserable just needlessly cripples the hardware.

I don't think they actually envision people using it with a tablet except when the device is in it's keyboard dock pretending to be a laptop and the owner is trying to do real work with it. Editing a document is dreadful on a touchscreen (since it's hard to move the cursor to the exact location you want), so you need a mouse if you want to be productive on one. Even if you're not editing text or doing a task that itself requires a precision pointing device, the dearth of useful apps for Windows Store means you're going to be using the desktop UI*, which is hardly ideal for touch...

*Assuming, of course, you're not on a WinRT device - but if you are, the most useful accessory is probably be that pair of skateboard wheels they used to tout the Surface's durability, not a mouse - that way even though you can't get work done on it, at least you can get to work on it.

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