Accessory manufacturer resurrects Microsoft's peripherals — licensing deal allows Incase to make Microsoft-branded keyboards, mice, and other accessories

Incase introduced 'Designed by Microsoft' peripherals
(Image credit: Incase)

Laptop accessory and bag maker Incase is creating a new 'Designed by Microsoft' line of products, including keyboards, mice, headsets, and speakers the Windows maker was once known for. With this exclusive licensing, the parent company Onward Brands intends to bring back some of its well-known products, including but not limited to Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard, Modern Mobile Mouse, Wireless Desktop 850, and Modern Webcam, while modernizing it for 2024. The company will have many Microsoft-designed peripherals available worldwide.

Microsoft had many self-branded peripherals for the PC market until it exited in April 2023. At the time, the company wanted to shift towards making Surface devices and accessories. But it's a new year, and Microsoft has new plans for 2024. "We are thrilled to license design and technology from the Microsoft accessory portfolio and to strategically expand our lineup of consumer tech solutions to include PC accessories," said Onward's General Manager for the Productivity Business Unit, Marshall Clark. "Consumers can anticipate their favorite products back on shelves in 2024 under the Incase brand as we transition the portfolio."

Currently, the company lists a few keyboards, including the ergonomic lineup. Many of its peripheral designs resemble Microsoft's old peripherals, except Incase's leaf logo. In this case, it will have some big shoes to fill if it plans to bring the same panache Microsoft peripherals once had.

What about the Enthusiast Grade Peripherals and Controllers?

There's no word if Incase (Designed by Microsoft) would introduce peripherals loved by gamers once upon a time, such as Intellimouse and Sidewinder controllers. But if that's not part of the licensing deal, Microsoft might not be against signing up with another company for gaming peripherals.

One benefit Microsoft has by licensing to another company is introducing keyboards with a Copilot key. The software giant wants peripheral makers to submit a copilot key for Windows 11 to take advantage of the operating system's AI function. Dell is doing this with its notebooks; we will see the same from OEMs with Windows 11. This may not be straightforward with desktop users, even if it can get some companies to introduce the copilot key for some keyboards and devices. Hence, licensing its Microsoft peripherals and designing for another company gives it an advantage in introducing this new key.

This isn't a big deal for many users if they do not wish to use Copilot in Windows 11. But any keyboard with a programmable macro function can also have this single switch option as one can use this by using Windows+ C. Microsoft has more significant problems than introducing a new switch, and many people are not too keen on switching over to the not-so-new Windows 11 which was introduced on October 5, 2021.

Personally, any company can make good products if it wants to. It will face numerous challenges in this case since the peripheral market is highly oversaturated, even for laptops and general users. A year of absence makes a big difference as many competitors bring designs, materials, new types of switches, keys, layouts, and colors. Relying on nostalgia with Microsoft's peripherals alone wouldn't be enough since it's carrying the peripherals under its brand. Most of Microsoft's reputation was established at a time when few well-known PC peripherals were available worldwide.

Freelance News Writer
  • Comicron
    Hallelujah! The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard lives on! Regular keyboards give me pretty bad wrist pain, so this one has been my daily driver for over a decade. I’ve been kicking myself for not stocking up before the prices on the remaining new inventory skyrocketed after the discontinuation.

    Buying used ones are a nightmare because Microsoft ties the dongle to one keyboard with no way to change the pairing. eBay is littered with used ones missing dongles that are only good for parts and scrap. Hopefully Incase will fix that while they’re “modernizing it for 2024”.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    The question is will they include Microsoft's version of the hated Bixby key?
  • Giroro
    Marshall Clark sounds like a frustrating person to try and have a conversion with, or even worse to have as a boss.

    Even if his corporate word salad statement was AI generated (and it probably wasn't, chat gpt is usually better at assembling an understandable sentence), he should still know better than to accuse his customers of being consumers. It's dehumanizing and disrespectful.
    It's like you're publicly announcing a product here, man, not trying to belittle employees for not sending six figures at business college just to learn how abuse a thesaurus.
    Nobody on earth wants to hear the phrase "strategically expand our lineup of consumer tech solutions". That kind of jargon isn't impressive anymore. It's silly.
  • Notton
    I still use their Bt Arc touch mouse with my laptop.
    I don't like its ergonomics or weight, but I also can't find anything better.
    Touch wheel that never gets clogged? check
    Works reliably with the crappiest of Bt adapters? check
    Folds flat? check