Scott Hanselman

Review: Microsoft Touch Mouse for Windows 7

August 3, '11 Comments [45] Posted in Reviews
Sponsored By

Microosft Touch Mouse for Windows 7First, a disclaimer. I work for Microsoft on the Web Platform team. That said, I don't know anyone in hardware. My opinions are my own. I don't have any vested interest in this mouse and I paid for it myself. In fact, I pre-ordered it in February.

I'm a hardware fanboy. I've tried dozens of keyboards and mice, and many webcams. Getting a new mouse or a new keyboard is a great inexpensive way to fundamentally change your computing experience. It's like a new pair of pants. Sometimes it just makes you happy to refresh the stuff you use every day.

I REALLY want to like the Microsoft Touch Mouse. The idea is a great one. Take a mouse that works like you'd think a mouse should, then add a number of multi-touch gestures so your mouse is everything a mouse is PLUS basic gestures you use with a touchpad or phone.

Packaging and Hardware

The packaging and OOBE (Out of Box Experience) is cherry. It's really nice to see Microsoft getting packaging right in a way that isn't a copy of Apple's packaging. The package opens up with a multi-fold lid like a treasure chest to expose the mouse beneath a clear cover. There's even a little magnet to hold the lid down. Inside the lid is directions on how to use the primary gestures.

You open the box by pulling the lid all the way off and releasing the mouse from it's stand. There's a nano receiver and batteries are included. While the nano receiver has a home inside the base of the mouse for storage, it's unfortunate that there isn't an option for using Bluetooth as I need another nano receiver like I need a hole in the head. All up, the packaging is primo.

The mouse itself is pleasingly heavy. I suspect if I opened it up I'd find a small lead weight inside to give it just a smidge of heft.

Tracking

The tracking uses the newer BlueTrack system rather than the Red-light system most of my mice use. It's also extremely responsive and tracks on darn near anything. I don't need to use a mousepad with this mouse, but I always use a WowPad because they make any mouse work better. It really tracks perfectly, as it should. I haven't have any issues with poor tracking mice in the last several years since the optical-super-laser-whatever technology came out and this mouse is no exception.

Gestures and Software

The software is a new tab called Touch within the Mouse control panel. It's got a nice side-car window with a lopping video showing you how to do each gesture. It's a little subtle, but you can play each video with the little blue play button on the left (they look like bullet points.)

Gestures supported are:

  • One finger scroll pan (vertically and horizontally)
  • One thumb swipe - A forward/back gesture, just like the thumb forward and back buttons on most mice (and many keyboards!) these days. Works in browsers, Outlook, OneNote and any other software that listens for forward/back.
  • Two finger swipe - This is really useful, in fact. Up is maximize, down is minimize, left and right are snap to the sides.
  • Three finger swipe - Gives you an "exposé" style super dashboard of all your applications. They call it "instant viewer." More on that in a second.

Here's a look at the software:

The Microsoft Touch Mouse Control Panel

Instant Viewer is what you get with a three finger swipe. It looks like this. The idea is, swipe, click to task switch, and it works great, it just is a little awkward to three finger swipe. Fortunately, 4 fingers or basically the whole hand works too, so a big swipe up is much more comfortable.

An arranged grid of all my open windows

Scrolling

Here's the part I'm having trouble getting past. Sometimes the scrolling just doesn't register. Often it registers on the second or third flick. I can't tell if this is hardware or software, but it's not cool. Maybe it's me. Things that you touch, whether they are phones, touchpads or mice should always work, every time, exactly. I think that one of the reasons that iPhones and capacitive screens are so successful is because of their responsiveness. Early PDAs suffered from that, tap, tap, tap, react cycle. Sometimes unresponsiveness is perceived unconsciously and other times it finds its way into your conscious brain. I was/am far too aware of scrolling gestures not registering far too often.

That said, the other gestures (two and three fingers) work EVERY time. I've really tested it with gentle touch, hard touch, etc and the two finger gestures ALWAYS work. I suspect there is some kind of scrolling driver bug going on here as the hardware seems very reliable. I'd love to hear from someone on the team if there is a known scrolling issue.

The other issue with scrolling is that you have to move your finger about a 1/2 cm before a scroll registers. I think this is to make the mouse not be too jittery. If it scrolled every time you moved at all, I suspect that would be irritating. That said, this should absolutely be a setting I can control.

This might very well be "be design." But when you make something called a "Touch Mouse" in a world where iPads and Windows Phones have pixel-perfect scrolling, the comparisons will be drawn. I want to casually touch and scroll without thinking. Perhaps even a few pixels. The illusion is broken when a touch has to be a half-flick.

The scrolling also has built in inertia. If you flick it fast, it'll scroll fast and then slow down. This is nice because it feels like a tablet device where you can "throw" a browser page and it'll accelerate and decelerate in a natural way. This "inertial scroll" could really be the killer feature if the actual first touch that starts the scroll was more reliable.

Limitations

I assumed that the middle area of the mouse would register as a Middle Click. It doesn't, so this is a 2 button mouse. This is almost a deal breaker for me because I use the middle click all the time when browsing  to open new tabs in the background or to close a tab without switching to it. If you rely on the middle mouse button (not everyone does) then be aware. You may not miss it until it's gone.

Conclusion

This is a multitasker's mouse. If you have a great mouse that you like, should you switch? No. But if you are in the market for a mouse AND you are a person with MANY windows open or a person with multiple monitors I can see how the window management features would be really useful.

However, for me, I'm on the fence if this scrolling issue is a deal breaker or not. If there's an upcoming driver update that really nails the scrolling sensitivity down then I'll recommend this mouse wholeheartedly.  Until then, I think I'll alternate between this one and my trusty and wonderful Microsoft Arc Mouse, which rocks completely.

Related Links

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 11:39:48 PM UTC
It's a shame about the unreliable scrolling and lack of middle button. I don't think I could use a two-button mouse on my dev machine. I've wanted tablet-like inertial scrolling out of Windows *forever*. Something like Apple's big fat PC trackpad would be a dream. Hopefully in Windows 8 touch is really a part of the OS and hardware like this can shine.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 11:44:46 PM UTC
The middle button is a bummer, but I'm sure that a software update could fix the scrolling. It totally seems like a software thing. I'm impressed with the hardware.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 11:54:26 PM UTC
If you're looking for inertia scrolling you can get the Arc Touch Mouse which has very good scrolling and inertia scrolling. It also has three button support. It actually is the first item in the link that was posted to the Arc Mouse.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 12:31:09 AM UTC
Nice mouse.

You know good scrolling is absolutely needed when you need to go back in the old visual studio 6 where there was no scrolling. :)

Have you tried the trackball, they were famous in the 90s, I enjoyed the trackball, had a logitech and then one from microsoft. I was damn fast with those.

Can you let us know in some weeks if you still enjoy it ? There are stuff that we are happy about at the beginning and then when you use you're not sure anymore.


Thursday, August 04, 2011 12:35:21 AM UTC
I agree with the regrets about the missing middle button and lack of bluetooth. Bluetooth may not be perfect, but it's good enough and much handier. My existing Microsoft bluetooth mouse works great. I also use the middle button all the time.

I'm curious -- can you use the touch mouse for custom gestures in applications? For example, can you program a pinch zoom gesture on the mouse into an application or is it just those few gestures that the mouse driver itself implements?
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:15:36 AM UTC
ScottB - No, sadly. I should have mentioned that. You can't make custom gestures (that'd be awesome) nor does pinch-zoom work (which it should).
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:17:38 AM UTC
totally a bummer...missing the middle click is like missing your pinky finger for a programmer. You would be able to do with out boy, you might miss the ease of typing the ";" key.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:50:54 AM UTC
Over all I like it, but may regretfully have to stop using it when in Visual Studio 2010 SP1. The scrolling does not work at all. I know Visual Studio has been plagued with this problem, but come on, this is Microsoft hardware.

I gave it one more try on a third laptop. I did not have IntelliPoint 8.15 64-bit for Windows 7 on it. It installed with just the drivers. It worked in VS, but no gestures. I downloaded IntelliPoint 8.15 64-bit for Windows 7 and it gave me the gestures and VS stopped working.

I repeated that on my other laptop by uninstalling IntelliPoint and the other mouse drivers. Just allowing the USB to get its drivers installed allowed me to scrollin VS, but no other getures work without IntelliPoint 8.15 64-bit for Windows 7 on it. As soon as I installed I got the gestures but VS stops working.

If I resolve the issue, I will post it as an update to this blog:
http://realworldsa.blogspot.com/2011/08/buyer-beware-microsoft-touch-mouse-does.html
Thursday, August 04, 2011 2:49:11 AM UTC
(First of all, I think you have a typo - instead of "be design" probably meant "by design".)

On Windows 7, Start+LeftArrow and Start+RightArrow do the snap/unsnap left/right thing that the Two Finger Swipe does. Also on Windows 7, if you hold Shift down, Shift+Start+LeftArrow and Shift+Start+RightArrow, the active window will move to/from multiple monitors.

Please try Shift+TwoFingerSwipe on a multi-mon system and let us know if it does that as well. Thanks for your early review!
John Tasler
Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:17:37 AM UTC
I am guessing this is a no no for gaming?
Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:36:13 AM UTC
Can the touch tab be applied to like the MacBooks touchpad? The only reason I EVER used OSS was for the cool expose etc touchpad features.

Like will this be a windows 7 addon anytime soon via the intellimouse software?
Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:47:34 AM UTC
Tad - the scrolling works fine for me in Visual Studio 2010 SP1...you have any adding and do you have the latest software? I'll ask the Mice team also.
Scott Hanselman
Thursday, August 04, 2011 6:51:06 AM UTC
Thanks for the review.

What about the new "Explorer Touch Mouse"; have you considered it?
heard some reviews on it?

http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/explorer-touch-mouse
Thursday, August 04, 2011 7:43:40 AM UTC
Nice article Scott. You mentioned that you've tried dozens of keyboards. Which one are you currently using and why? I'm looking for a nice one at work. I don't really need all the extra functionalities (like mediaplayer and volume buttons) but the typing experience is really important to me.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 7:43:52 AM UTC
Nice article Scott. You mentioned that you've tried dozens of keyboards. Which one are you currently using and why? I'm looking for a nice one at work. I don't really need all the extra functionalities (like mediaplayer and volume buttons) but the typing experience is really important to me.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:18:48 AM UTC
s/lopping/looping ?

#corrections
Thursday, August 04, 2011 10:30:35 AM UTC
Is there anyway to have that 'expose' like thingy w/o the mouse?
Thursday, August 04, 2011 11:20:29 AM UTC
flick/drag scrolling: i've been using Grab and Drag in Firefox for years. I've tried working without it and cannot!
Grab and Drag
You can set it to trigger from any button/key combo (I use middle mouse button)

I also just found an AHK script that will work in any app. Not as smooth as G&D but it works - ahk script. This one is triggered by right click

Both have flicking ability which I find the most useful.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 11:35:11 AM UTC
Useful info. I never use mouse middle btn, so your caution about it doesn't apply to everyone. My joy of computing went up when I started using a wireless mouse on every pc. That tethering wire forces you to adjust your physical actions to it, rather than having a mouse that adjusts to your natural arm/shoulder/hand preferred position & movements. Major diff.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 12:36:33 PM UTC
UPDATE 8/4/2010- In order to resolve the issue of not running in Visual Studio 2010 you must run C:\Program Files\Microsoft IntelliPoint with elevated permissions. Right click on it, open properties, go to the compatibility tab and select Run this program as administrator.

What clued me in was that it did not work with the event viewer either, which was running elevated privileges also.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 12:41:41 PM UTC
That should have been

In order to resolve the issue of not running in Visual Studio 2010 you must run C:\Program Files\Microsoft IntelliPoint\ipoint.exe with elevated permissions. Right click on it, open properties, go to the compatibility tab and select Run this program as administrator.
What clued me in was that it did not work with the event viewer either, which was running elevated privileges also.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:53:43 PM UTC
Tad, Bless you! Just received mine yesterday, was dreading it already being useless for development. I use Visual Studio 2008, same issue, solution works.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:01:29 PM UTC
Instant viewer really should be part of the OS. I've resorted to implementing something similar in our app for just its windows and having that in the OS would be much better.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:42:59 PM UTC
Think I'll stick with my trusty Logitech MX-620 with lovely free flowing weighted scroll wheel. To a programmer ease of scrolling is #1 priority IMHO.

Seems like Microsoft is just trying to copy Apple here.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 5:50:28 PM UTC
Hopefully something like the instant viewer will be built into Windows 8 (classic desktop UI anyway). Expose is one of the few features I really like in Mac's that I feel is missing in Windows. Can't say I use Alt + Tab or Windows + Tab at all, they just aren't the same.

The product looks great but I think I will wait for version 2 software.

Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:20:38 PM UTC
The lack of Bluetooth support in Microsoft mice is maddening. I can't remember the last computer that I had that didn't have Bluetooth, and yet every MS mouse has those damn little receivers.
Thursday, August 04, 2011 11:07:00 PM UTC
I'm using the Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000 except the wireless version.
Friday, August 05, 2011 1:56:43 AM UTC
Touch mouse SDK
Should be able to do your own pinch, side swipes, finger do-a-donut, or triple stab gestures

http://www.istartedsomething.com/20110709/microsoft-touch-mouse-gets-its-own-multi-touch-sdk/

Friday, August 05, 2011 1:00:42 PM UTC
Review for French readers :
http://www.lesnumeriques.com/microsoft-touchmouse-p288_11398_43.html
Friday, August 05, 2011 2:02:07 PM UTC
Scott: Keep us posted on news from the mice team. I would like to buy the mouse if the scrolling problem is solved
Friday, August 05, 2011 3:28:31 PM UTC
It seems to me that no middle button could be fixed with a simple driver update. It can obviously sense the middle finger (or three finger gestures wouldn't work). So, maybe there will be updates to the drivers that will add the pinch gestures, middle finger, and scrolling bug fix.
Davin Studer
Saturday, August 06, 2011 9:30:06 AM UTC
Thanks for the review. After reading about the lack of middle-click-support, I cancelled my order, because I really rely on it. Unfortunately, the quest for a new mouse continues :(
Lars
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 11:48:49 PM UTC
Looks like there IS an SDK! Perhaps we can add middle click support? Details at the AMC. http://www.acm.org/uist/uist2011/call/contest.html.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 1:04:16 AM UTC
I had my sights on the new MS Touch Mouse ever since I read Long Zheng's article on the SDK back in July - links worked at the time but looks like MS has pulled it - in your link it says "Pre-release" SDK.

Currently using the flatten-able Arc Touch mouse and I swear it runs on black magic
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 8:50:45 PM UTC
For just plain old scrolling up and down, use one finger instead - I'm finding that works perfectly; your two finger scroll is probably getting confused with the two-finger flicks that max/minimise a window and the hesitation could be while it disambiguates the gesture because it's starting scrolling instantly on all the machines I'm testing with here. (none of those have Visual Studio on though ;-)
Mary B
Sunday, August 14, 2011 9:16:55 PM UTC
Been using the mouse for a little more than a week and well, I'm loving it. I'm not having the problem with the scroll that others are. I guess there's a little delay, but after a couple days use, I stopped noticing it. There's likely a thin line between "too much" and "not enough" when it comes to scroll control, which is probably why they didn't make it customizable, even if they should have. Giving people the feeling of control might go a long way in making people happy, even if, after tweaking it, they end up right back where they started. And for me, I haven't really seen a problem with it not registering my scroll requests. Finally, the expose-like functionality and the window control (snap) are awesome. At first I was a bit bummed that pinch wasn't supported, but my main Windows machine is a multitouch tablet, so I just reach out pinch (:
Tabletwriter
Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:28:53 PM UTC
I bought it and returned it. I did not feel that it was comfortable. I prefer the Logitech mX. I do miss the "snap" and expose features. Anyone have a suitable replacement?
Friday, August 19, 2011 3:29:22 PM UTC
Ok Ive been waiting 5 yrs for a touchmouse for pc and was disappointed to see the very limited gestures as compared to apple magic mouse where with some extra software you can do basically anything, control how much pressure needed to make gestures while not activating the surface with your other fingers and palm etc. After this much research went into building this (and ive read all the background), its sad that this great mouse capable of anything is so limited by its software. And it really is as I bought one of the first ones out there. It could become the default pc mouse as with mac and sell millions of copies had it a fully customizable surface but people are already canceling orders because of this. To get to the point, and i hope someone is reading, it should have in the driver an option to assign a middle mouse click to any gesture/tap etc for all those graphic designers and other professionals out there. Its possible to have touch scroll and middle click on touch surface at same time, apple can. As with magic mouse all 3 clicks should be able to be activated with taps placed in different quadrants as well as by using multiple fingers, ex one finger tap left click, 2 finger middle, 3 finger right. There should be a click lock enable for double tapping any of these to drag. There should be options for single, two, three, and 4 finger gestures as in better touch tool or magic prefs. It would be very useful to have sensitivity settings for taps etc to register so they are not accidentally triggered. What I would personally pay for is having activation of any of the three buttons by lifting a finger from natural flat position, anotherwords force of regular resting position would be non activating and negative finger lifted force would activate. Thats for all of us who are in trouble from holding down on mechanical buttons for all these years and need touch input devices whereas taps are often an issue since they can be activated easily by accident and no one wants to hold hand in air over mouse. If any microsoft people are reading this please look into it or if anyone can write something similar to better touch or magic prefs with these features im sure people wouldnt mind paying a couple bucks or more for such software. I dont know why some companies let you assign any function to any button and on top of that let you program your own combos and gestures, while others limit only certain functions to certain buttons/gestures, its bad for business imo. Thanks for reading
Monday, August 29, 2011 12:38:15 PM UTC
Thanks, I didn't know the middle mouse button could close a tab - and I also use it all the time for opening tabs, so, deal breaker for me :( (Maybe I will in the future if they release an update!)

However... I was just wondering, the Windows Exposé like feature - is that built in to Windows somewhere and disabled without a touch device or did the driver actually install it?

I have never seen it on Windows before, and whilst I don't have a touch mouse, I would love it... Don't get me wrong, Windows Key + tab is amazing the first time you use it, but, with anything more than a few windows open it becomes a real pain and I end up using good old alt+tab.... but, I would LOVE to have exposé as my Windows+tab... I would use it more than alt+tab!

Thanks for a good review!
Saturday, October 22, 2011 12:50:41 PM UTC
http://www.istartedsomething.com/20111021/short-microsoft-research-touch-mouse-sensor-sdk-available-for-download-again/

Long Zheng just blogged again looks like the SDK is back.

I'm grabbing a copy before MS made it disappear again.

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/8e2847f1-0e2d-48d3-b924-71400b358c17/default.aspx


Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:59:33 PM UTC
Finally it is arrived.

After one day I can say that it si not living up to my expectations.

- right click is interpreted often as left click
- scrolling is not sensitive enought
- Expose (or instant view?? ) is sometimes slow on my very very fast notebook.
- Mouse is feeling to heavy, my wrist is complaining.


You can say i'm a bit dissapointed, how could you get this one wrong with all the research and resources. If you release something release it when it feels perfect or don't release it at all. I wonder if those developers use this mouse themself.

I will give it two more days and if the experience is still negative it will go back to the dealer.





Ed
Thursday, January 19, 2012 6:40:44 PM UTC
UPDATE in JANUARY of 2012 - FYI, They've changed something in the drivers and the scrolling is WAY WAY better.
Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:04:39 PM UTC
Great to hear the scrolling is improved. Would you say it is good enough to be your primary mouse now? Is the 1/2cm lag that you mentioned gone?
Monday, January 23, 2012 12:26:38 PM UTC
Where to get this January update?
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 10:43:49 AM UTC
For the middle click limitation, you may try out Touch Mouse Mate, http://touchmousemate.codeplex.com. This open source utility tries to bring middle click back.
Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.