March 29, 2006 7:56 AM PST

Microsoft extends licensing to mouse, keyboard

Microsoft is expanding its licensing to the keyboard and mouse, the first time the software giant has signed up licensees for its hardware technologies.

The move to license its hardware-related intellectual property comes at a time when the software giant is facing greater antitrust scrutiny aboard, as regulators express concern that the company is not providing competitors with adequate information for interoperability.

The hardware licensing initiative will include Microsoft's U2, Tilt Wheel and Magnifier technologies, the company said Wednesday.

U2, an interface detection and switching technology, is designed to automatically allow a keyboard or mouse to determine whether it needs a PS2 or USB connection to a computer. The Tilt Wheel lets people position the scroll wheel horizontally or vertically, so they may move the cursor in fluid motions. Microsoft's Magnifier technology is used as an editing and viewing tool for input devices, such as a mouse.

"Most people think of Microsoft as solely a software company, but we've been a leading hardware innovator and supplier to the desktop peripherals industry for over 20 years," Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, said in a statement.

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19 comments

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There's a quote from Star Wars...
"The more you tighten your grip Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
Princess Leia, Star Wars IV, A New Hope
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You got that completely wrong
What it means is that others will be able to license these hardware features and include them in their products. If there is one sole part of M$ that has consistently delivered good products at highly competitive prices, it's M$'s hardware division. By licensing these features, in theory they are encouraging competition, not stifling it. My only caveat would be that perhaps these features are not what the consumer is looking for... but we will have to wait and see whether that is true or not.
Posted by Jerry Dawson (125 comments )
Link Flag
Actually, I can't Stop Laughing
Before you get your panties in a twist, hear me out.

Is Microsoft planning to brand, and build, their own computer, just
like Apple? Are the software, and hardware going to be designed
to work together, from the ground up?!

If so, welcome to the 21st century, in the age of computing!
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It would
be cheaper that is for sure.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
At what you've just written... I assume.
Chaps, we are talking about keyboards, mice, gamepads, joysticks, and wheels (and some patents concerning same)... as this is what Microsoft make in terms of hardware. As you will gather from other comments here, they are a benchmark for the sector.

Software and hardware 'designed from the ground up' takes us not to the future, but the 80's, when that's all that was available. The last remaining throwback to the era of the Atari, Commodore, Acorn, Sinclair et al is the Apple.

I can think of a lot of very good reasons connected with price/features/usage why it is essential to be able to choose the hardware from which a computer is built. To name but one, AMD made far better chips than Intel for several years, and they were also a lot cheaper.

Knowing this kind of thing is the reason people ask me to build them computers. To get the best value for money - which Apple most certainly isn't.
Posted by Jerry Dawson (125 comments )
Link Flag
Excellent products
What is noticeable is that their hardware enjoys much better a reputation that their software. I regard their keyboards (the natural keyboard in special) and their mice as their best products. If I were to give a top 3 best Microsoft products, I would say:

1 - Natural Keyboard series
2 - Mice, all of them
3 - SQL Server 2000

I have never used their joysticks, tough, so, maybe they would deserve a 3rd place.
Posted by rbanffy (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually ...
Their Force-Feedback game controls, especially the Joystick were a
great experience for me.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Huh? 21st Century Apple?
Microsoft has gotten rich on choice. Windows on PDAs, Windows on phones, Windows on tablets, Windows on micro notebooks,Windows on large screen notebooks, Windows on servers, Windows on desktops, Windows on home built.

Mac on White or Silver in 2-2 sizes.. OSX is great, tying it to Mac hardware has limited innovation and choice in hardware for Mac users.

I Wonder when Apple will join the 21st century and realize tying you OS to your Hardware is 1970's IBM thinking that keeps you from growing.
Posted by fogfire (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Correct
When I heard that Vista & office were going to be delayed (not that I had firm plans to buy either), I got mad. So I went & looked for an Apple alternative. I'm a power Multitasker, when I'm running the full version of MQ, Rational Software Modeler, iTunes and I have a FULL virus scan runnin, everything grinds to a stop/crawl. I found 1 Apple choice - some sort of PowerMac, with limited configuration options. When I configured it, it came out at over $4,000 - almost twice what a PC would cost, to do the same job. On top of that, I'd have less choice in software. I've been a DOS guy since BEFORE it was M$-DOS. I don't want to have to do left-brain/right-brain, using my machine at work, with Wintels - it's bad enough thinking about integrating Biztalk & z/OS. So right now, Apple is out, RedHat is borderline, SUSE on a PC - maybe (I know it's just another *nix, but it'd be on a PC).

Why can't I get OS X on an AMD FX-60 based machine ? The only consolation is seeing things like PCI Express & other common technologies, creeping in.

I have a dream - the day when I can have a true Dual-Boot - Winblows or OS X (or XI, XII etc), both on a common vanilla machine, DOS partitions etc.
I can at least dream about it.
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Keeps you from growing - not really
A big reason Macs work as well as they do is because Apple controls the hardware. If they sold OS X as an os that could be installed on any pc, then they would immediately inherit a lot of Microsoft's problems (dueling, missing, buggy 3rd part drivers, etc.)

Apple's customers are happy because everything "just works".

Apple's stock holders are happy because AAPL stock has gone from about 6$ to $60+ in the past 5 years. (Microsoft's has gone from $38 to $27 during the same period.)

Growing, just to be bigger, isn't all that great. The growth needs to be in the right areas.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe.....
..."OSX is great, tying it to Mac hardware has limited innovation and
choice in hardware for Mac users. "

....Maybe, .but it keeps Apple from repeating the legions of
mistakes MS has made trying to get an decent Windows OS. And MS
is still looking for a decent Windows OS....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
 

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