Unveiled at CES 2011, the Microsoft Touch Mouse is a
multi-touch, wireless, USB mouse originally designed exclusively
for Windows 7. Featuring multi-finger gestures and Microsoft's
BlueTrack Technology, this is a great mouse for desktops and
The Touch Mouse is the
result of a two-year-long joint research project between Microsoft
Research and Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group called "Mouse 2.0".
Initially exclusive to Windows 7, Microsoft has now announced that
Mouse will be updated for Windows 8.
Available for purchase since June 2011, you can pick one up in
the price range of $40 to $80 from various online retailers. A white limited edition
Artist Series version has also been released. The Touch Mouse
comes with a three-year worldwide warranty.
Alright then, let's begin with the unboxing. Here's the
One look at the packaging immediately gives you the sense that
this is a premium product. Opening a magnetic flap on the front
reveals the mouse, mounted on a stand and housed in a transparent
Included in the box are two AA-size alkaline batteries, a USB
nano transceiver, a USB extension cord, and an owner's manual.
The mouse sports a contoured outline and fits in the hand very
comfortably. The design is symmetrical, so you can use the mouse
with either your left or right hand. The mouse is big enough for
small- and medium-sized hands, and should be okay for people with
The front half of the top surface is a touch-sensitive area on
which you can perform gestures. The touch area is marked and has a
tactile feel; it conceals a matrix of capacitive touch-sensing
electrodes underneath. Also located on the top surface is a battery
status indicator. When you switch on the mouse, the LED flashes
green once, then turns off to save battery life. If you get low on
battery, the LED continuously blinks red during use.
On the bottom of the mouse you'll find the on/off switch, the
battery compartment, and a slot to hold the tiny USB transceiver
in, which can come in very handy when you're travelling, because if
you lose the transceiver, your mouse won't work.
Microsoft's proprietary BlueTrack Technology lets you track on
just about any surface you can think of. The BlueTrack website says
you can use your mouse "on a picnic table, your living room floor,
the armrest of a lobby chair, or even your pant leg". We tried the
Touch Mouse on all of those and it worked flawlessly. In fact, it
also worked great on clear glass, a surface on which even Microsoft
says BlueTrack wouldn't work.
The mouse operates on a 2.4 GHz radio frequency channel and has
a wireless range of up to 10 feet (3 meters). If you experience
connectivity problems (which, although rare, might occur if you
connect the transceiver to a back-panel USB port on your desktop),
you can use the included USB extension cable to position the
transceiver much closer to your mouse.
In our tests, after 12-15 hours of daily usage, the batteries
generally lasted for about 3 weeks. This means Microsoft's claimed
battery life of 3 months holds true if you use the mouse for a
little over 3 hours every day.
No installation disk is included with the mouse and Windows
automatically finds and installs the required drivers and
IntelliPoint software. IntelliPoint adds a special Touch tab to the
Mouse Properties window (accessible via the Control Panel), where
you can enable/disable the touch gestures and change other settings
specific to the Touch Mouse. Without IntelliPoint installed,
vertical scrolling is the only thing you'll be able to do apart
If you're running Windows 8 Consumer Preview, you can
download and install Microsoft Device Center. Device Center is
an app that lets you customize your Microsoft keyboards and mice
from a single location. It provides the same set of options to
personalize the Touch Mouse as IntelliPoint, but in a much
friendlier Metro interface.
When you connect the mouse to your PC, a nice tutorial takes you
through all the gestures you can perform.
You can do one-, two- and three-finger gestures using the Touch
Mouse. Here's a comprehensive list:
You can scroll and pan vertically, horizontally and diagonally
by moving one finger over the touch area. You can control the speed
of the scrolling. For example, a flick will quickly take you to the
end of a document.
As it supports inertia, scrolling with the Touch Mouse can be
fun in Office programs and web pages. But in programs such as games
or graphics software where you need precision, the scrolling can
turn out to be a major annoyance as you might end up scrolling
either too much or not at all. In my experience, lifting the other
finger(s) off the mouse when scrolling should give you better
Move back or forward
You can sweep your thumb up to navigate forward and down to go
back. This is very convenient for navigating back and forth between
web pages or folders in Windows Explorer.
Minimize and maximize windows
Swipe two fingers up to maximize and down to minimize. This is
similar to what the Windows + Up Arrow and Windows + Down Arrow
shortcut keys do.
Snap windows to the left or right
Swipe two fingers left to snap (dock) a window to the left half
of the screen, or swipe right to snap it to the right half. This is
equivalent to the Windows + Left Arrow and Windows + Right Arrow
Switch between tasks
Swiping three fingers up brings up Instant Viewer, a task
switcher that shows you a live thumbnail of each open window. You
can then scroll to easily select the application you want to jump
to. This makes window management much faster compared to using
Windows + Tab (Flip 3D) or Alt + Tab.
Swiping three fingers down minimizes all windows to display the
desktop. This is the same as using the Windows + M hotkey.
Check out this video from Microsoft Hardware
that demonstrates all of these gestures.
We tested and found that all gestures also work well on Windows
8 Consumer Preview. As you can see, many of these gestures offer a
quicker alternative to keyboard shortcuts. Instant Viewer is a
feature unique to this mouse and I think a lot of users will be
using it, along with the thumb gesture.
When you first try to click with the Touch Mouse, you'll notice
something strange - it doesn't have two separate buttons for left-
and right-click. Instead, the entire top surface of the mouse acts
as a single button, and whether you left- or right-clicked is
detected by the mouse based on the position of your fingers. And
this is probably the Touch Mouse's main quirk, because it leads to
a peculiar situation - you need to lift the finger you use to
left-click (the index finger if you're right-handed) in order to
You also cannot left- and right-click at the same time. Although
this action is hardly ever used, if you do happen to use a program
that requires this action, you will run into problems with the
Touch Mouse. Also, since the Touch Mouse does not have a
traditional scroll wheel, it doesn't support middle-clicking.
Fortunately, you can
get around this issue by using a third-party utility such as Touch
Another problem with the Touch Mouse has to do with its weight.
Although the mouse itself is pretty light (just 80 grams), after
inserting both batteries it gets very heavy. This definitely makes
moving the mouse a real task until you get used to it.
- Great for navigation and window management
- Ergonomic design
- BlueTrack Technology
- Easy installation
- Single button for left-click and right-click
- Poor battery life
There's no denying that the Touch Mouse isn't perfect, but
there's also no denying that this is the best multi-touch mouse
available today. This is a mouse that'll take a couple of days or
perhaps a week for you to get used to. But once you get the hang of
it, you'll be addicted and will sorely miss the gestures if you go
back to a traditional mouse. Most people will find the Touch Mouse
to be a great addition to their Windows 7 (or Windows 8 CP) PC as
it makes navigating around faster and fun. Overall, I think the
pros outweigh the cons.