Microsoft on Thursday announced a new generation of Sculpt mice that will include, for the first time, a dedicated Start button. Presumably, this addition is aimed at ensuring that every Windows user has a hardware Start button of some kind.
It makes sense: Modern Windows devices all have a hardware Start button. Tablets have them. Ultrabooks and other portable PCs have them on the keyboard. And desktop computers included a Start key on the external keyboard. So a Start button on the mouse is just another option for users to get immediately back to home base.
That said, it appears that these new mice—the Sculpt Comfort Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Mouse—don’t have much else going for them.
The Sculpt Comfort Mouse has a touch-sensitive blue strip on its side called the Windows touch tab that lets you navigate Windows 8 with touch or the swipe of a finger. When you press this touch tab, you navigate directly to the Start screen as expected. But if you swipe down on the touch tab, it activates the Switcher interface. Swipe up and you will cycle through all open “Metro” apps.
The Sculpt Mobile Mouse just has a little Windows button and four-way scrolling courtesy of tiltable scroll wheel.
The good news? If you do want one of these devices, you won’t have to wait long. Instead of the normal fall schedule for its mice, Microsoft will release these new models over the next 30 days or so. The Sculpt Comfort Mouse ($39.95) will ship this month and the Sculpt Mobile Mouse ($29.95) is coming in June. Both use BlueTrack technology. The Sculpt Comfort Mouse uses Bluetooth for connectivity while the Sculpt Mobile Mouse requires a small USB dongle.