Touch may be all the rage at Microsoft, but that doesn't mean the company is abandoning work on its keyboards and mice.
I've been typing on one of these keyboards loaned to me by Microsoft for the past few days and can say it's quite comfortable. The keyboard is domed, so it's raised in the middle and slopes downward toward the edges. The "6" key is in an unfamiliar place, which is kind of annoying, as is the backspace key. But users can opt to turn one of the space-bar keys into a backspace button, so that helps a bit.
The keyboard includes Charms keys (along the top row) that mirror the charms in Windows 8. It also comes with an optional keyboard height adapter that "clicks in" magnetically like the Surface keyboards do. A separate number pad also is available for those who do a lot of number-intensive typing.
I really like Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse. It's half mouse, half trackball. It's been really comfortable, even though it's quite large. It has a thumb rest and, for those who are using Windows 8, a Windows key on top, which takes users straight to the Windows 8 Start screen.
A single USB dongle allows users to connect both the mouse and the keyboard to their PCs and devices.
These new peripherals work with Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows RT, though only "basic functionality" is provided when used with Windows RT.
The new Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (the keyboard and mouse combined) will be available in August 2013 for an estimated retail price of US $130. (It should be available from Microsoft online around August 15.) The keyboard will be available separately in September for an estimated retail price of $81. The mouse will be available separately this month for an estimated retail price of $60.
Correction, 10:45 a.m. PT: This story originally misstated the capabilities of the mouse and keyboard. Neither is Bluetooth-enabled.
This story originally appeared as "Microsoft debuts a new Windows 8-friendly keyboard, mouse" on ZDNet.