Remember those leaked Microsoft Wedge mouse and keyboard images from a few weeks back? They were, indeed, real.
Microsoft announced on July 30 that 'in the coming weeks and months,' it will roll out two new Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and two new mice, including the Wedge Touch Mouse, the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, the Sculpt Touch Mouse, and the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard. The new devices will all work with Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows 7 PCs and tablets. (The new keyboards and mice also work with Macs running OS X v 10.6 and 10.7.)
Though not a multi-touch device, the Wedge Touch Mouse supports four-way (up, down, left, right) touch scrolling and navigation. It also includes support for Bluetrack, in addition to Bluetooth, so that it can be used on "virtually any surface." The estimated retail price for the Wedge Touch mouse is $69.95.
The Wedge Mobile keyboard includes support for Windows 8 hot keys and built-in media keys. It is Bluetooth-enabled. The keyboard includes a cover that can be converted into a tablet stand. Estimated retail price is $79.95.
The Sculpt keyboard ias a natural keyboard with Windows 8 hot keys built in. Microsoft estimates it will offer 10 months of battery life. In addition to supporting the PC and Mac operating systems listed above, the Sculpt keyboard also supports Windows Vista. Estimated retail price is $49.95. The Sculpt mouse, supporting four-way scrolling via a strip, is Bluetooth-enabled, and also will list for $49.95.
In addition, Microsoft will also release updated Windows 8 gestures for the existing Microsoft Touch Mouse on October 26, which is the day Windows 8 will be generally available in the retail market.
Anything Microsoft can do to make the new and unfamiliar Windows 8 interface easier to navigate is a good thing. Here's hoping these new peripherals can help users missing their Windows Start buttons and trying to master the new Windows 8 Charms encounter less of a learning curve.