Microsoft: 30 Years of Hardware and a Few Surprises
April 28, 2012 by Lance Ulanoff on Mashable
Microsoft has been making hardware for a long time. That’s right — the company best known for its world-dominating operating system, Windows, has been spitting out gadgets for 30 years.
And while they haven’t always been pretty, some of these devices have become industry, business and household staples.
During my recent trip to Microsoft’s sprawling Redmond campus, I was led into a room that one might call the hardware vault. This relatively small conference room did not include every piece of hardware Microsoft has ever made, but it did offer an impressive collection and glimpses of more than a few classics.
There were many mice — who does not remember their first Microsoft Mouse? — some early ones, some new. Keyboards? Yes, a ton of them. Here and there, I also spotted a bunch of yellowing, older gear and a few things I’ve never seen before.
Noticeably absent was some of Microsoft’s successful hardware: the Xbox (any generation) and the new Kinect. Also missing: Microsoft’s misguided forays into sound cards and routers. Fortunately, I can still close my eyes and see them.
Microsoft is quite proud of its hardware history and some of its latest innovations. In recent years, it’s done some impressive stuff with mice. The latest Explorers offer haptic feedback and, with new Windows 8 drivers, will allow you to scroll horizontally (if you’ve seen the new Metro interface, this actually makes a lot of sense).
Microsoft Senior Manager Ben Reed told me that as the world moved to mobile computing (laptops now outsell desktops), a person’s mouse has become “a vehicle of self-expression.” To wit, Reed proudly showed off a collection of designer Wireless Mobile Mice Microsoft commissioned last year and some of the latest designs they just introduce in March. The limited-edition mice are only on sale for six months.
As he spoke he used what I consider the best Microsoft mouse ever made, the new wireless ArcTouch mouse. It’s a device that literally changes shape to fit the curve of your hand.
To commemorate 30 years of hardware, Microsoft took 30 of those mice and had them hand-painted and then numbered. So now they’re unique, not for sale and, yes, Mashable has one of them.
Check out some of the classic hardware and Microsoft’s new gear in the gallery, and don’t miss the 30th Anniversary Mouse. Later this week, we’ll tell you how you can win it.
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