Microsoft's Mouse without Borders
From the depths of the Microsoft's experimental Garage group comes a free, useful application this morning. Replicating the core functionality of a KVM switch using only software, Mouse without Borders makes it impressively simple to control multiple Windows PCs over a network using a single set of input devices.
Simply download the program to up to four machines, and use one system to generate a security code to plug into the others. Click apply, and you can then use the mouse and keyboard on any of the four systems to seamlessly control the other computers.
In a brief trial, we had no problem controlling systems using both Windows 7 and Windows XP, each on a different network. You can also use it to move files between systems, and copy and paste, making it an incredibly easy way to pass files around between nearby computers.
You get a few options to tweak settings, such as blocking the screensaver on a connected system, or enabling a key to toggle between PCs, instead of simply mousing over.
Aside from its core functionality, what's great about Mouse without Borders is how well it works, and how easy it is to use. We had no trouble launching applications, right-clicking, dragging, typing, or performing other standard mouse and keyboard functions across PCs. We felt no discernible input lag, even with a wireless mouse. It even recognized hardware volume control keys between systems.
The software isn't completely flawless. It wouldn't register dedicated brightness key input. It also can't handle gaming. We tried both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Metro 2033, and the sensitivity in each was far too high, even after we adjusted the mouse settings in-game.
Even if Mouse without Borders doesn't give you complete mastery over another PC, it works well enough that we can imagine plenty of scenarios where it would be useful, from troubleshooting to learning environments. We can also imagine the software lending itself to pranks, in, say, a college dorm.
Mouse without Borders is a Windows-only application for now, so it's not quite as versatile as a some multiplatform KVM hardware. For controlling multiple Windows PCs, though, it's the most intuitive solution we've seen. To try it for yourself, you can download it here.