From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Microsoft Reinvents (and Dresses Up) the Wheel

Ever want your mouse to be a little, um, sexier?

While the world may not have realized it needed a leather-clad desktop rodent, Microsoft did, unveiling its black leather IntelliMouse, as well as a host of other sharp-dressed friends, at a September 3, 2003 press event in Redmond, Washington. And while the outward appearance of these mild-mannered pointing devices is a far better-dressed cry from the clumsy old beige numbers, it’s how they move that execs at Microsoft are hoping will get customers really excited. And it all comes down to the reinvention of the wheel.

In Microsoft’s new mice, the scroll wheel, formerly a vertical-only movement option, takes on a new direction, moving both horizontally and vertically to let users get through documents like spreadsheets without having to move the mouse itself.

The scroll wheel’s design change came as a result of mouse users’ requests, said Tom Gibbons, General Manager of the Microsoft Hardware Group. “[W]e spent a lot of time talking to customers about how we can make the scroll wheel even more helpful, and we heard loud and clear that they wanted to be able to do more with their wheel,” said Gibbons.

As for the sleek shape of the mouse itself, a Microsoft ergonomist was employed to keep “daily comfort of the user in mind.” Ultimately, the mice are billed as “ambidextrous,” and the wireless IntelliMouse Explorer even gets an “ergonomic mouse with five buttons” billing from Microsoft, as well as a dressed up appearance. When the new mice hit the stores in late September, customers will be able to take their pick of looks, including metallic grey, blue, platinum or that hot little black leather number.

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