RealTime IT News

That's Right, Microsoft's Got Mac Hardware

The company Mac fanatics love to hate is expanding its non-Windows product lineup.

Microsoft today announced it plans to release its first Mac-specific keyboard and mouse. The Wireless Desktop for Mac is due out this summer for a suggested price of $99.95.

WDM is the first Mac-specific desktop product from Microsoft and the first keyboard from the company not to include the Windows Start button. The keyboard layout is consistent with keyboards designed for the Macintosh and is compatible with Apple's latest Intel-based Macs as well as older PowerPC models. Microsoft is also touting the keyboard's "futuristic" silver finish, ergonomic design and comfort of the wireless mouse.

"Microsoft's entry doesn't shock me, I'm sure they look at it as an extension of their business," Matt Sargent, analyst with Current Analysis, told internetnews.com. "That segment of the Mac market tends to be very lucrative. Mac users spend more than Windows PC users on these kind of peripherals."

The laser mouse uses Microsoft's "Intelligent Tracking System" designed for smoother tracking without interruptions or skipping over a variety of surfaces. The mouse also features a Tilt Wheel for easier navigation of documents and spreadsheets. Microsoft also said it's improved the utility of the Mac magnifier with its own Magnifier tool for real-time document enlargement.

Specific keyboard features include: "My Favorites Keys," five keys that can be customized to instantly launch favorite photos, folders, files and Web pages; Eject key for one touch ejection of CDs and DVDs; and Hot Keys for immediate access to programs like e-mail, chat, music, photos and the Web.

Microsoft hardly lacks for resources, but it is entering a market of established competitors. Apple itself offers a wireless mouse and keyboard separately for $59 each. And long-time Mac supplier Logitech offers its Cordless Comfort Duo of wireless keyboard and mouse for $99.95.

Microsoft has had a kind of love-hate relationship with Apple and its users over the years. Of the three original Macintosh developers (Microsoft, Lotus and the long-defunct Software Publishing,) Microsoft is the only one to continuously support the Mac dating back to 1984. Apple once sued Microsoft over user interface claims, but that was settled after Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

In 1997 Jobs announced at a Macworld Expo show in Boston that Apple, struggling at the time, was accepting a $150 million investment from Microsoft. Bill Gates was greeted with boos by the audience when he appeared on a video screen at the show as part of Jobs keynote address.

But Apple has been on the upswing since then, powered largely by the runaway success of its iPod music and video player. The Mac market was helped by Microsoft's continued support of the Mac version of Office.