Mega keyboard cut down to size

Microsoft has cut the size and price of its ergonomic keyboard, admitting it got it wrong first time around.

Now 20 percent smaller, the 104-key Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite (£33) is USB compatible and shares the same integrated, wide, curving palm rest as its king-sized predecessor, the Microsoft Natural Keyboard.

The Elite finally puts the top row keys within reach of the touch-typists' fingers - seemingly a second priority for the company: "keyboard trays and desk space were the reasons for shrinking it," said Microsoft's hardware usability and ergonomics manager, Edie Adams acknowledging the previous keyboard's gargantuan proportions.

The hardware group is responsible for around seven per cent of Microsoft's profits. The software giant has around 65 per cent of the UK keyboard market, mainly through upgrades, according to market analyst Romtech.

Separately, Microsoft released a small mouse with an integrated wheel that allows scrolling and zooming in all Windows 95 and NT applications. The Wheel Mouse costs £16.50 and requires Microsoft IntelliPoint drivers.

A USB version of the IntelliMouse product will be available for the release of Windows 98 in June and the IntelliMouse Pro, based on a stationary trackpad design, will be out in the autumn.