Microsoft Hardware announced that it's celebrating 30 years in the peripheral business by launching a new line of mice and keyboards specifically designed to work and play with Windows 8. The new lineup includes two new Bluetooth-enabled keyboards, the Wedge Mobile Keyboard and the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, and two Bluetooth-enabled mice, the Wedge Touch Mouse and the Sculpt Touch Mouse. The company is also releasing updated Windows 8 gestures for the Microsoft Touch Mouse on October 26 when the revamped OS finally hits the streets.
For starters, the Wedge Mobile Keyboard is built specifically for Windows 8 tablets, featuring a ultra-slim form factor and a full-sized touch keyset, making it easy to carry and a comfortable experience. As shown above, it also comes with a durable cover that not only protects the keyboard from scratches, but also quickly converts into a cool tablet stand. When it's no longer needed, users can simply snap the cover back on the keyboard to power it back down. It also includes some of the most commonly used features such as Windows 8 Hot Keys and built-in media keys.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard will be available soon for $79.95 (U.S.).
"The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is what I like to call uber-mobile," said Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc. "It’s got a full size keyboard yet has a minimalist, lightweight design that makes it super easy to carry around with me. It’s also stylish. It definitely looks pretty slick."
Next up is the Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse. It's small enough to fit into your pocket, yet packs features like four-way Touch scrolling and navigation, BlueTrack Technology so that it can be used on any surface, and battery-saving technology which powers down the peripheral and puts it into sleep mode along with the computer it's paired to. Microsoft says it has an "artful and minimalist design," matching the ultra-slim portability of its keyboard Wedge counterpart.
The Wedge Touch Mouse will be available soon for $69.95 (U.S.).
Moving into the "Sculpt" line, the Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard -- cousin to the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 -- is ultra-thin and sports a Comfort Curve design, encouraging natural wrist posture with a slight, six-degree curve. It promises up to 10 months of battery life thanks to an on/off switch that conserves battery power -- a two-color battery life indicator warns users when it's time to change out the batteries. Bluetooth connectivity frees up USB ports, and Windows 8 Hot Keys makes it easy to quickly search, share or access devices, settings and the Windows Start Screen.
The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard will be available soon for $49.95 (U.S.).
Finally there's the Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse featuring a four-way touch scroll strip (instead of a mouse wheel) for smooth and easy navigation. With a simple finger swipe, users can breeze up and down, left and right, and through applications and documents, similar to the way the Explorer Touch Mouse works.
The Sculpt Touch Mouse will be available soon for $49.95 (U.S.).
As for the Microsoft Touch Mouse, Microsoft Hardware said that the updated gestures will make navigating through Windows 8 a breeze. For example, a one-finger swipe will allow users to move side to side or up and down, shifting content on the screen. Two-finger movements will manage apps, allowing users to display Windows 8 charms, switch through open apps and show app commands. Three-finger movements will let users zoom in and out, and thumb gestures will navigate backward and forward through apps.
Consumers can buy the Touch Mouse today for $79.95 (U.S.).
"I am absolutely loving the Touch Mouse on my All-in-One here at home and Windows 8," LeBlanc said. "One thing I’d like to be clear about – if you already own a Touch Mouse you don’t need to buy a new one for Windows 8! All existing Touch Mouse customers will be able to take advantage of these new gestures for Windows 8 when Windows 8 is released this fall."
Starting July 30th, consumers will be able to pre-order the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, Wedge Touch Mouse, Sculpt Mobile Keyboard and Sculpt Touch Mouse on Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, TigerDirect, and Buy.com.
"It’s an exciting time for the whole company for lots of reasons, but this is something we’re thrilled about and we can’t wait to see people’s reactions," says Brett Kelleran, general manager of Microsoft Hardware.