New Microsoft mice and controllers on tap

I mentioned Microsoft's upcoming SideWinder Freestyle Pro gamepad early this week, but Microsoft has other computing hardware in the pipeline as well, including two new mice, a force-feedback wheel for racing games, and a stereo PC speaker system.

First, the fun stuff.

The Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel is designed create a realistic driving experience when used with force-feedback-enabled PC driving games. It offers realistic styling, with slip-resistant pedals, eight programmable buttons, and two Formula 1-style triggers that act like shifters. The Wheel will ship with the full versions of two Microsoft racing games, CART Precision Racing and Monster Truck Madness 2.

"Even when we were just previewing the SideWinder Force Feedback Pro joystick, gamers were already asking us for a force-feedback wheel," said Rick Thompson, VP of the hardware group at Microsoft. "Now we're using some of the same technology from our award-winning joystick in the SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel. We also have an innovative free-motion game device, SideWinder Freestyle Pro, that immerses a player's mind and body in the game itself. It has already generated intense excitement and anticipation among gamers who have previewed it."

Joining the wheel and gamepad in the entertainment department is Microsoft's second foray into PC sound hardware, the Microsoft Digital Sound System 80, three-speaker sound system with USB and Windows 98 support. Developed by Philips, the Microsoft Digital Sound System 80 includes a subwoofer and two satellite speakers that offer high-quality digital sound.

All of the gaming hardware will be available this Fall.

Available immediately, however, are Microsoft's new mice. The high-end Microsoft IntelliMouse Pro replaces the existing IntelliMouse with a slightly modified design and a new wheel that provides scrolling and zoom features in all applications, not just Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer.

"Every element of IntelliMouse Pro, from its unique arched shape to the texture of the rubber grip around its base, is the product of extensive user research," said Tim McDonough, product manager for the Microsoft mouse line. "Microsoft's world-renowned ergonomics team designed IntelliMouse Pro to be as comfortable to use as possible."

Rounding out the low-end is Microsoft's new Wheel Mouse, which replaces the Home Mouse. Like it's high-end brother, the Wheel Mouse supports universal scrolling in Windows 9x and Windows NT 4.0, but its small size with straight sides will appeal to left or right-handed users

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