back to article Microsoft takes hard line on Win 7 hardware

Just one day on from confirming that Windows 7 will arrive on 22 October, Microsoft has begun punting “exclusive” hardware features for its operating system. In order to entice customers to buy computer peripherals produced down at the Redmond ranch, Microsoft is promising its hardware devices will be compatible with the …


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  1. Ash
    Thumb Down


    I have no MS branded hardware at home, and it all works FINE with the RC.

    Pull the other one, MS.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    And the problem is......................

    Apple insist you use their hardware why should Microsoft be any different......................

    'Flame on!!'

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One step away...

    ...from refusing to support their OS if it's used with non-MS hardware and peripherals.

    Hard times and all that, but they are obviously trying to increase revenue by trying to gently push customers in the direction of MS kit. Two problems with this; firstly I can already see other hardware manufacturers considering legal action on anti trust grounds; and secondly they will probably scare potential Windows 7 customers away. On reading this latest advice I'm sure some people will be concerned that Windows 7 won't work with their non-MS hardware.

    Bit of an own goal really.

  4. Ray

    On the contrary...

    I have no Microsoft or Apple branded software at home. Yet, my Microsoft mouse and Apple keyboard work flawlessly. Isn't that nice of them?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Shock! Horror!

    "Microsoft hardware works with Microsoft software" sensation!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Gareth

    Actually Microsoft make some good hardware...

    but would you really trust a mouse manufacturer to write an operating system?

  8. Tom

    If they're doing this in Europe...

    ...I can see another anti-trust coming on.

  9. J. Cook Bronze badge

    Makes sense to me...

    Oddly enough, MS hardware is actually pretty good, and fairly abuse-resistant.

    I've had one of their keyboards for a good 5 years worth of pounding on, and it's taken it all.

    But yeah, no surprises here otherwise.

  10. Mectron

    @Anonymous Coward

    MS compete on the hardware side. Apple cannot survive competition, that is why it is FORCING the extremly simple minded customer stupid enough to buy Apple crap to use Apple Crap Hardware (and software).

    Apple is leader in anti-consumer behaviour. once Apple got your money, they only want one thing... more money. and they will do anything to get it, expecialy by selling you generic x86 hardware in shiny plastic case (that emit toxic fumes) at a grossly inflated price.

  11. Jimbo


    "Apple insist you use their hardware why should Microsoft be any different"

    This is very good comment, I totally forgot about it.

    Who cares if they promote their keyboard and mouse. Of course other brands are going to work, this is just their chance to push their hardware. Btw I own Microsoft Natural Ergo 4000 Keyboard and I love it. I care less if it has MS logo or not, it just works great. But it's just a dam keyboard, nothing more nothing less.

  12. Steve

    OMG you mean my mouse wont work

    I'd better stick with XP, I don't want to upgrade and find my mouse has to be replaced!!!

    Good one M$ how retarded is your marketing???

  13. Christopher Rogers
    Gates Halo

    @ J. Cook

    I agree entirely, the H/W is pretty bullet proof stuff. But really whats happened here is MS make hardware, ms wanna sell hardware MS just marketing dept. happen to mention it works with future SW.

    No one died and no one was injured.

  14. Michael Nielsen

    re: USB devices

    re: usb devices By Mark Legosz

    That idea you suggested here, was the basic idea behind PCI, however, as no one can agree upon a standard, before one is created, they all create their own implementations, and thus you end up with a billion different ways to interface to a mouse. fortunately eventually defacto standard appear, and devices start to conform to these, until someone finds a neat little feature that they add to their device, making it non-compliant to the standard.

    Having the device driver on the device, you then also need to decide which operating system you wish to support, as what PowerPC Apple mac, Intel Apple Mac, Windows 98, windows 2000, windows (blabla), linux, freebsd, etc all use different standards, so you end up with 2-3 gig of drivers stored in your usb device. If these drivers are updatable, then vira has a nice new hiding place, which will make it even harder to combat vira.

    So though your idea sounds good (and has been tried before), it causes many problems..

    The only way forward is to implement standards, such as what has now happend with Web cameras, where there now is a industry standard interface, such that you only need one single driver for all web cameras.

    However, take printers, each printer "speaks" a different language, has different features, which makes it very hard to create a standard that covers everything - actually Postscript was such a standard - but was too expensive at the time (due to the hardware requirements and patents involved), and has then been replaced with the driver nightmare that is associated with printers.

    If we went back to postscript, or an updated XML based postscript methodology, where the computer generated a fixed format, which the printers then interpreted, then it might have a chance. However, I doubt the industry would do this in the next many years, though it would save them money in the long term - no need to maintain software drivers on the computer, but the would need to maintain the software on the device instead.

  15. Mark

    RE: One Step Away...

    Just like Apple then...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    At least they claim compatibility...

    ... because I HAD the first oldish force-feedback joystick from Microsoft. All good (that thing could really knock itself out of your hands if you were not careful, the paper BS claimed 0.7kgf push-and-pull strength) until I bought a new PC WITHOUT the required MIDI ports to plug it.

    The joystick was GREAT. It had real, actual, directional force-feedback, not just vibration. It was so powerful it required its own cooler on the base, along with a 24Vdc wall-wart transformer. And a nice touch, a infrared detector on the handle, so if you lost grip it would stop shaking. Try to land a Cessna with a 30 knots crosswind gust, and the joy really shines on its intended purpose!

    Apparently, programing for this sucker was a pain, at least Windows-98 wise. Later they released a USB version, but it wasn´t quite powerful or so well-built, so I heard. Years later I installed a really good sound card, which included the MIDI port. No luck, its software was not compatible to WinXP anymore.

    So, with a twist of fate, I still have that joystick (it still works), but no MIDI ports, and use a usb-plug-play Thrustmaster joystick instead. BTW, I should have bought these right from the start, they've been building JUST THAT and haven´t gone bankrupt for, like, er... 30 years?

    I am still buying the HOTAS Cougar though, and authentic F-16 handle and throttle, (when I can afford it)...

    With this sort of SNAFU from Microsoft, Logitech will best them in each and every hardware, be that mice or keyboard, except joysticks hehehehe.

    PH, (now think of something with the word joystick and Paris Hilton on the same sentence!).

  17. Anonymous Coward



  18. Nigel

    Abuse of their monopoly? (Again).

    Any Logitech lawyers reading this? Time for you guys to do something, if you don't want Microsoft to eat your business. The EU court seems sympathetically inclined at present.

  19. Nic Brough


    The MS hardware I've got is generally quite nice. Makes me suspect that it's someone else's work, rebranded, but it all works fine under Ubuntu. More than I can say for the Vista debacle, where the computer was useless, and it's not exactly working great under Win 7 beta either.

    As Tom says, I'm expecting a very quick u-turn from them, or a referral to the EU monopolies/competition people...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "but would you really trust a mouse manufacturer to write an operating system?"

    Yeah, about as much as I'd trust Microsoft to write an operating system...

  21. Remy Redert

    @J. Cook

    Duh. They make that hardware for their coding monkeys. That's like making toys for little kids. It has to be nearly impossible to break otherwise it'll break on day 1.

  22. Ben
    Thumb Up

    It's for the Sheeple

    Of course we all know they are just spouting typical marketing nadgers, but the average non el-reg reading sheep might sit up and take notice of this. They might buy some MS hardware instead of PCworld own brand gear - but honestly, this is no bad thing. I too have plenty of MS mice and keyboards around that my kids and employees have unsuccessfully tried to break over many years.

    And in case you were wondering, I despise MS's bloatware and their anti-competitive behaviour. I also recognise good stuff when I see it.

  23. Herby Silver badge


    Microsoft Hardware (that "works").

    Yes, they can make keyboards and mice, but that appears to be about it. Put any complexity in it, and it will probably only work with XP. If you want to upgrade to Vista, or Windows 07, you will need to spend $$$$$. Oh, well..

  24. Anonymous Coward

    My MS trackball mouse.............

    Works very nicely with OpenSuse thanks, the only thing I've ever paid MS for.

  25. John Savard Silver badge

    Shocking Hardware Restriction

    Just saw a news item on the Manchester Guardian's website. Shock! Horror! Apparently, Windows 7 will not be offered by Microsoft to netbook manufacturers who use the ARM processor in their products. I'm not clear what the netbook maker whose comments the article featured was expecting; an ARM port of Windows 7, like Windows Mobile, wouldn't be able to run the Windows programs you see in the shops (x86 binaries, don't you know) any more than Linux would. In fact, thanks to Wine, rather less well than Linux running on Intel, AMD, or Via hardware.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, so much for MS embracing open source

    although aren't all their current peripherals actually made by Logitech anyway?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft baffle me with their messages...

    "I've always wondered why drivers for USB devices aren't included on the device itself."

    I've always wondered why USB Sticks don't just appear in My Computer without 3 or 4 System Tray messages appearing telling me my PC has 'Found New Hardware' and that Windows is 'Installing Software for New Hardware' before finally telling me 'Your New Hardware is Installed and Ready to Use'.

    On my Mac, they just appear on the desktop, ready to use. No drivers needed, they're already there.

  28. Smokey Joe

    @ Mark Legosz

    Have a good think about what you just suggested...

    Windows user by any chance?

  29. Anonymous Coward


    ...move your mouse in the shape of a circle otherwise you might get the red ring of death.

  30. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I do not blame Microsoft for this

    Manufacturers love OS changes. One new OS, and all old devices stop working. Manufacturers could spend money writing new drivers for their obsolete hardware, or they can sit back and let you buy replacement hardware to get the driver you need.

    I can imaging that Microsoft has as much difficulty getting programming specs out of manufacturers as Linux programmers do. I respect Microsoft for not playing the same game with their own hardware. Their operating system may be an overpriced resource hog fit only for malware, but I have been impressed by the quality of their mice (mine still works after about 12 years).

    @Mark Legosz: Cost

    The cost of some flash increased by 30% for each layer of the distribution chain is significant on a £5 mouse. Instead, USB devices identify themselves as firmware devices. The operating system gets the device ID, uses that to get the firmware, sends it to the device and resets the device. The device then identifies itself as a webcam or whatever without having to include more than 16 bits of non-volatile storage.

  31. Ian Davies

    @AC second post

    "Apple insist you use their hardware why should Microsoft be any different"

    Ahem. 1990 called and wants its argument back. Apple makes no such demands whatsoever. Every port on an Apple Desktop or Laptop is industry standard. Has been for years. On the very rare occasion that a proprietary port has been used (usually video connectors shrunk for space reasons on a laptop) there has been an adaptor available from Apple to connect to any 3rd party monitor, VGA or DVI.

    Go on, have another go.

  32. Matt

    It's not the peripherals we need to worry about...

    OK, so they are trying to give end-users the best possible experience... but there's more to it than just the peripherals. Microsoft need to be setting strict guidelines about the core specs of the machines first.

    Desktop PCs with 448MB RAM, 80GB Hard disks and a 2.4GHz Celeron processor should NEVER have been *allowed* to run Vista, or show a Vista logo. Yet they did, and novices saw the cheap price, and bought it. Then slagged off Vista. Well, duh!!!! No decent keyboard or mouse could sort that disaster out.

    If Microsoft want Windows 7 to get a good reputation, make the minimum requirements 2GB RAM and a proper processor. Hell, even netbooks could handle that.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    oh no not again

    I plug my slinky aluminium apple keyboard into Linux and say "it's a UK Apple Mac keyboard" and lo and behold, all the keys work as expected.

    I plug same into XP and a msg bubble comes up and says "apple mac keyboard detected" and it doesn't work properly, because Windows has tried to map it as though it were a qwerty uk keyboard.

    Somebody, somewhere, needs a good stiff kicking.

  34. Andy Bright

    Re: USB Devices

    Unfortunately Autoconfig died along with the Amiga. The idea that hardware should just be recognised by reading the information directly from the hardware apparently wasn't something other OS creators were capable of reproducing reliably. Of course not every manufacturer of hardware is willing to go the extra inch of having identifying information stored within the hardware itself, but most do. The very fact things like digital cameras and usb flash drives usually don't need drivers shows it can be done even under Windows or OS X.

  35. Shagbert

    Sidewinder Strategic Commander thingy

    Does this mean the MS Sidewinder Strategic Commander will finally work again, after they broke it for Vista and 64 bit OSes?

  36. Geoff Kennedy


    I use a Micorsoft Blue Tooth Mouse for my iMAC.

    Beats the hell out of the mighty mouse that came with it.

  37. Graham

    Do these guys ever learn ?

    just imagine if MS did have peripherals that only worked with their software ....... antitrust would come calling faster than they could plug it in. Its just another case of Redmond Press Corp opening mouth and inserting foot ..

  38. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Standardized web cams...

    @Mark Legosz, no thanks... Problems I see:

    1) There are a few broadband cards that do this, and it ends up being rather gross... They either show up as the device *and* a superfluos USB drive, or they show up as a USB drive until some "magic bit" is flipped on it, then show as the actual device only. Either is rather inelegant in practice...

    2) "All supported OSes" means Windows and *possibly* OSX, I don't want the added complexity and costs for something that'll do me no good.

    3) There's USB standards, the devices should just follow them. Then, no drivers are necessary (beyond basic USB drivers), simple as that. Printers "should" use Postscript (preferably..), PCL5, or standardize on a raster format. But they don't to cut costs.

    4) You won't cut the footprint much by excising the drivers out of *most* OSes. Ubuntu, all the drivers included are probably about 200MB or less total, and that's including devices from the mists of time that Windows dropped support for years ago. OSX's drivers aren't too big either.


    Microsoft -- please, what a silly way to push your hardware.... one thing I do have to grant them, they took a hard line with Vista and told webcam makes to quit making non-standard USB webcams, follow USB video standard or else. And they do now (keyboard, mouse, and gaming device makers already were following standards.). With that said, this means gaming devices, keyboards, mice, and web cams will work no matter who makes them, no Microsoft-branding needed (and, on the flip side, Linux has tons of webcam drivers to handle older webcams, but you can buy a new one without worrying about it since they follow standards.)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So... I have to stop buying Microsoft altogether?

    As noted, Microsoft actually makes pretty decent keyboards and mice. My computers run linux, but my keyboards are from Microsoft. Does this mean that future Microsoft peripherals will be deliberately incompatible with anything non-Microsoft? Although this certainly wouldn't surprise me, such a policy does seem unusually stupid, even for them... Oh well, plenty of other keyboards out there.

  40. Tim Bergel

    @Mark Legosz

    > and there would probably be security risks too.

    No kidding - it would be a security disaster. A combination of a special USB device with a suitably written driver would crack an OS open with ease. If the driver is installed automatically from the device we then have a pwn-o-matic.

  41. Walter Brown


    Microsoft, for years has been known as the makes of really good hardware and so-so operating systems. If it wasnt for their hardware i would say that Microsoft was suffering from "Symantec Syndrome"! A company thats better at making money than they are at making useful products...

    As for them getting some anti-trust lovin', thats wont happen, not in this case anyway, in order to qualify as a monopoly one must control 70% of a given market, which, in this case, Microsoft doesnt, nor are they the biggest supplier. Logitech holds the biggest market share for mouse and keyboards.

  42. Robert Moore
    Jobs Halo

    AC @ 15:47

    ""Microsoft hardware works with Microsoft software" sensation!"

    Yeah, I will believe it when I see it.

  43. benzaholic
    Gates Horns

    Ahh, the Good Old Days

    Windows ain't done 'till Lotus won't run!

    How do we update that little ditty without losing the compact charm?

  44. Anonymous Coward

    MS trackballs

    Yeah, I own a couple of MS trackballs, very nice hardware. Optical thumb balls, scroll wheel, four (or five, if you thump the wheel) buttons, industry standard protocol. I know they are standard protocol devices because I use them on my linuxes. Wouldn't run windows if you paid me, it's for stupid or crazy people. Oh, yeah, I picked the trackballs up for $14.95, after MS obsoleted them. Didn't suck enough, I guess.

  45. Steve Coffman


    Microsoft has been producing hardware for over a couple decades... so why now all of a sudden would this be considered an anti-trust issue? From the gist of the press release it more or less sounded to me that MS is just guaranteeing that their hardware will be compatible with Windows 7, and some of the hardware may have Windows 7 specific enhancements. Big-woop.

    As to the "drivers on the device" comment, the most common USB device that I can think of that most OS's don't necessarily have drivers for are printers. Have you looked at the size of most printer drivers lately? I mean JUST the driver, not all the support software that goes along with most printers? They can be HUGE. I doubt most manufacturers are willing to add a ROM/SRAM to store the drivers for multiple OS's on their device just for your convenience and to cut down on the OS size. You can just install it from the CD/DVD or download it yourself, thank you very much. Interesting idea, but one that isn't going to gain acceptance.

  46. Jared Vanderbilt
    Paris Hilton

    Ooo, so the Vista ready branding mess was actually...

    just part of a larger marketing scheme to push Microsoft hardware onto the huddled masses when the next Windows version was released. That Balmer is such a whiz.

  47. Richard Jukes

    MS are good at one thing...

    They can make some damn good mice and keyboards, and I believe it stems from their philosophy of viewing everything from the users perspective, their mice are a joy to handle, their keyboards are only beaten by IBM laptop keyboards. The same applies to their software, the UI is usually well thought out and it just works, things are where you expect them to be (usually again...) I think they take anthropometrics and ergonomics very seriously, its a shame the backend of their software is such a mess.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what we have all been waiting for!

    "..mice, keyboards, webcams.........",

    What fantastic new innovations!

    Oh, wait...

  49. Bernie


    will it's mice and keyboards be any different to those sold by other manufacturers?

    Ctrl+Alt+Delete will all be on the same key now?

    All jokes aside, they still have to compete with the hundreds of other hardware manufacturers who are still going to be supplying Windows drivers with their products. And Microsoft will surely carry on including drivers for the vast majority of generic input devices with WIndows.

    So basically Microsoft is punting it's hardware, not massive news.

    Wake me up when you get the first reports of computers going tits up despite using MS software + hardware.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why all the negativity? They're simply reassuring their customers that their hardware will work seamlessly with their latest operating system? And so it should. However, I don't see what the problem is? They make good hardware too and all this does is increase consumer confidence.


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