Microsoft Hardware is introducing a new series of Bluetooth accessories to complement upcoming Windows 8 devices, starting with the Wedge mouse and keyboard as was previously rumored. The company is also updating an older accessory, the Touch Mouse, with better support for Windows 8’s gestures.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard and Wedge Touch Mouse are the highlights of this announcement, as they have been designed specifically with Windows 8 tablets in mind. The lightweight full size keyboard includes the new Start button and keys for Windows 8’s charms. It also comes with a rubber cover which doubles as a tablet stand and automatically turns off the keyboard when it is attached. The mouse, meanwhile, features a unique wedge shape and includes four-way touch scrolling, BlueTrack Technology so it will work on any surface, and intelligent power management which automatically puts the mouse into a power saving mode when the device it’s paired to goes into sleep mode. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard will retail for $79.95 this fall, while the Wedge Touch Mouse will be sold for $69.95.
Microsoft also announced two other accessories, but they aren’t nearly as unique. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard is a curved device with Windows 8-specific keys and power management functionality, while the Sculpt Touch Mouse is a traditional device with a small strip for four-way touch scrolling. Both accessories will be sold for $49.95.
Last month, I wrote about my experience with the Microsoft Touch Mouse on the Windows 8 Release Preview. At the time, Microsoft Hardware was touting how the software had been updated for Windows 8, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the minor, incremental changes. Thankfully, Microsoft has some nice improvements in store for the Touch Mouse, like the ability to use two fingers to access the charms, running apps, or the app bar (think of it like swiping in from the side of the screen on a tablet). Scrolling with three fingers will invoke semantic zoom, where appropriate. It does, of course, also support four-way scrolling.
Microsoft has yet to nail down the exact availability for these accessories, but they are already available for preorder from select retailers.[Windows Experience Blog]