||As usual, Microsoft is quite busy at this year's Expo demoing their latest products. What's different is that this year they've got a piece of hardware for the Mac: a mouse. They've made their IntelliMouse line available for USB Mac owners, and this time it requires no mousepad and has no moving parts.
In their new mice, Microsoft is utilizing their IntelliEye technology, an optical tracking system that uses light reflection instead of the traditional mechanical ball. What sets this apart from other optical technologies is that it does NOT require a special mousepad -- it will track on just about any surface, including a white shirt! Optical technology has traditionally required a mousepad with a very distinct grid on it by which it can track the movements of the mouse. Microsoft has developed a technology that uses a Digital Signal Processor chip embedded in the mouse to track changes in the work surface in order to monitor movement -- and it does this at a rate of 1500 iterations per second.
Microsoft has two versions of the mouse. The original IntelliMouse with IntelliEye is a two-button mouse with a fully functional wheel for scrolling (and looks just like the standard "wheel" mouse available to the Wintel world). The IntelliMouse Explorer is the cooler of the two products, which has two additional buttons on the side of the mouse and features a sleek, silver design. That, and the IntelliMouse Explorer has a glowing red taillight from the internal optics. Unnecessary, of course, but very cool!
The big question is, of course, how well does it work? We got the chance to test one on the show floor and it's fantastic. It's very smooth, it's very reliable, and because it doesn't use a ball, it tracks VERY well on just about any surface. Both mice are very comfortable for right-handed mousers, and the original IntelliMouse is fine for the left-hand contingent as well. The mice both seemed a bit more precise than the standard "puck" that comes with the Blue & White and the iMac, and due to the lack of a ball we had an easier time performing precision mousing.
The original IntelliMouse with IntelliEye carries an MSRP of US$54.95. The IntelliMouse Explorer will list for US$74.95 and both products will ship in September 1999.
The Mac Observer Spin: Both of these mice should be well received in the Mac market. the IntelliMouse has been an enormous success in the Wintel world, but that may be because so many Mice in the PC-Land are utter crap. The Mac world has long been used to Apple's ADB mouse which is reliable and lasts a very long time. Enter the iPuck mouse shipping with iMacs and Blue & Whites. This mouse is almost universally hated by most users. There are many excellent choices for replacements, but the IntelliMouse line from Microsoft should still find a large number of fans based on our Team's experience at MACWORLD.