Hardware

Get in the gesture groove with the Microsoft Touch Mouse

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz shares his experiences using the Microsoft Touch Mouse.

Back in June in the blog post titled "Windows 8 Touch Screen Interface and the Microsoft Touch Mouse," I speculated that Microsoft designed the Touch Mouse as a transitional device to help Windows users start moving away from using a mouse-controlled, user interface to using a gesture-controlled, touch-screen interface, which will be the centerpiece of Windows 8. At that time, the Microsoft Touch Mouse was not yet available, and the company was promising a summer 2011 release.

Well, I recently got my hands on a Touch Mouse, and after using it for a couple of weeks, I definitely feel like it is helping me to get into the groove when it comes to using gestures to maneuver about in Windows 7. So much so, that I actually feel like I will be able to effectively use Windows 8's touch-based user interface when it arrives.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll share with you my experiences using the Microsoft Touch Mouse. To accompany this article, I've also created a photo gallery showing the unboxing of the Touch Mouse and giving you an initial look this new input device.

Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday.

A closer look

To begin with, the Microsoft Touch Mouse is designed specifically for Windows 7. It carries a suggested retail price of $79.95, but you can get one from an online retailer for anywhere from $60 to $65.

The surface of the Touch Mouse, shown in Figure A, is populated with a multitude of sensors that are designed to track movement of your fingers and allow you to take advantage of Windows 7's touch-based, user interface features. You can use one-, two-, and three-finger gestures, which I'll discuss in more detail in a moment. There's even a gesture for your thumb.

Figure A

The surface of the Touch Mouse is populated with a multitude of touch sensors, and there are no discernable buttons.

Powered by two AA batteries, this mouse features an on/off switch so that you can save battery power by turning off the mouse when you are not using it. Just turn the mouse over and flip the switch.

As you move the mouse, the proprietary BlueTrack Technology can read the surface it is rolling over at up to 8,000 frames per second and has a top speed of up to 72-inches per second. This provides extremely smooth movement on just about any surface that you can imagine.

The mouse comes with a very small USB transceiver, as shown in Figure B. The system works best if the transceiver and mouse are in a fairly direct line of sight. To facilitate this type of arrangement for those of us who have a tower system under the desk, the package includes a 60-inch USB cable complete with a Velcro attachment on the end, making it easy to attach the USB jack and transceiver to something on top of your desk.

Figure B

The USB transceiver is extremely small.

Making the connection

As soon as you connect the transceiver to a USB port, Windows 7 begins downloading and installing the drivers, and within a few moments the mouse is ready to use.

However, this initial mouse driver will provide you with only basic functionality until you install the IntelliPoint 8.2 software, which is required for full functionality. Unfortunately, I wasn't prompted to install the IntelliPoint software when I connected the transceiver as I had expected. The first page in the setup guide states "If you are not prompted to install the software when you plug in the transceiver, go to www.microsoft.com/hardware/downloads."

When I accessed the site, the IntelliPoint 8.2 software was easy to find and download, but it would have been a much more satisfying experience if I had been taken to the download page automatically.

The tutorial

As soon as the software installation is complete, you are taken right into an interactive tutorial that teaches you how to use the gestures. The tutorial is self-paced, and you can repeat each section as many times as you like.

To begin, you learn about the three-finger gesture, as shown in Figure C, which will allow you to show the desktop as well as initiate the Instant Viewer -- a feature that displays thumbnails of all open windows on the desktop, as shown in Figure D. The two-finger gestures allow you to maximize and minimize windows as well as snap windows to the edges of your screen via the Windows Snap feature. The one-finger flick lets you scroll, pan, and tilt when working with documents or graphic images. Using the thumb gesture will allow you to move backward or forward through a Web browser or a picture viewer.

Figure C

The interactive tutorial will have you up and running with the gestures in no time at all.

Figure D

The Instant Viewer displays all open windows as thumbnails.

Using the mouse

While you can use the Touch Mouse alongside a regular mouse to ease the transition, I decided to unplug my Microsoft Optical mouse and totally immerse myself in using the Touch Mouse. I am glad that I did because it made getting used to the new paradigm easier. It took a little while to adapt, and at the beginning it was a bit awkward at times, but it soon becomes second nature.

For example, I can compare the experience of getting used to gestures to getting used to my first wheel mouse -- it didn't take long and I soon couldn't live without it. I've found the gestures very intuitive, and I have easily become very accustomed to using them.

The Touch Mouse is smaller than a standard mouse, and it fits in the palm of your hand very comfortably. It is bit heavier than a standard mouse, but it has a nice solid feel to it. While it will take a few minutes to get used to the smaller size and weight, once you begin using it, you won't really notice it anymore.

If you look back at Figure A, you'll see that there are no discernable buttons on the mouse, but clicking on the left or right side of the mouse works just like the buttons on a regular mouse. The straight line at the top center of the mouse essentially replaces the wheel for scrolling -- you just move one finger up or down to scroll.

By default, the Touch Mouse is programmed for right-handed users, but you can easily reorient the mouse for left-handed use from the Buttons and Touch tabs of the Mouse Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure E. As you can see, you can also disable various touch functions if you wish.

Figure E

You can configure the touch-based features from the Touch tab of the Mouse Properties dialog box.

What's your take?

Are you interested in taking advantage of Windows 7's touch-based features with the new Touch Mouse and its gestures? Are you already using the Touch Mouse? If so, how has your experience been? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

If you want to see the Touch Mouse in action, check out CNET's Video Review.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

43 comments
bdaly
bdaly

Why do most wireless mouse (and keyboard) manufacturers ignore Bluetooth and insist on proprietary communication technology? W shouldn't have to have an additional transmitter sticking out the side of our laptops and use up a USB port when all modern laptops have Bluetooth built in. They could include an inexpensive Bluetooth dongle (I bought one from MeritLine.com for $1.99) for use in desktops that don't have Bluetooth, but there's no reason not to use an existing technology already built into so many devices.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I like the way my Logitech Performance MX mouse recharges the battery via a micro USB cable.A single charge lasts for weeks and you can still use it like a corded mouse while it is charging. I guess the AA batteries in the Touch Mouse make it less complicated if you were traveling with a laptop.

tiredoftechrepublic
tiredoftechrepublic

My, my, my... TechRepublic blogs are full of PC and Apple trolls that just love to argue, argue, argue. Get over it people. You have made what once used to be a blog about computers, into a space to argue over apples and oranges. (or apples and pc's) You make me sick!

Realvdude
Realvdude

FYI - Been using mouse gestures for a couple of years. http://download.cnet.com/gMote/3000-2094_4-10900389.html The author website says they are working on gMote 2, and that the delay is they are switching frameworkds because of lack of 64 bit support in Delphi. I'm not sure that means this does not support 64bit Windows, or just not native 64bit.

user support
user support

It is almost 2 years nows since our enterprise said it was migrating to Windows 7. Heck we only migrated to Office 2007 last year. If the "Touchmouse" was the default hardware included, we would be inclined to deploy to the users. Personally, I am on a Windows Table XP at home and Windows XP SP3 laptop at the office using a Logitech trackball (USB). I am at ease using the trackball with left or right hand. I can also use the trackpad if necessary. The trackball has 4 buttons (2 large and 2 small) and are programmable. We bought an iMac in 2009 for school projects. The magic mouse died early this year and there is no way to repair without breaking it. We exchanged it for another under warranty. The next time it dies it will be replaced with a Logitech trackball. Lastly, whether fingerprints make a difference on touchscreens they always seem to hit an human emotion that for most people, makes them intolerable if you are sharing the device. To minimize fingerprints, you can put a screen protector on the device. Summary - if the Trackmouse came with a moneyback guarantee and I had Windows 7, I would give it a try.

joncowden
joncowden

They may have made the first design of a touch mouse... But how did they implement it into their OS's or programs? They didn't. It was nothing more than a fancy, regular mouse. Whereas, Microsoft(yes, they took the idea) bettered the touch mouse by pre-building advanced, and additional features into it's OS's and continue to add touch support daily. Everything in the WORLD is built on another idea. Facebook, The Telescope, The Telephone... All ideas stolen and made better... Oh... Lets not forget the Theory of Relativity.... Henri Poincar??, originally the first presenter of the theory... Oh, and Apple themselves. RIPPED RIGHT FROM THE IDEA FROM XEROX and their Mouse-Driven GUI.... So.... Welcome to the real world!

robert.a.hatcher
robert.a.hatcher

Looks like a nice piece of hardware. I have very large hands and prefer to use a trackball. Hey Microsoft! How about a Touch Track in small and large sizes?

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

is very interesting. I know there are many interesting video features available on Windows-7 that are not available without a touch screen. It sounds to me like the addition of the touch mouse may make many of them available without the cost of the touch screen (which my employer is not going to buy for every employee). I too remember the wheel; how strange it sounded at first; and how indispensable it is now to me. The touch mouse sounds interesting enough to be worth checking out. Thanks for a great review, Greg.

Robiisan
Robiisan

Of Richard Gere doing a tap dance in "Chicago?" This all sounds like razz-ma-tazz, smoke and mirrors, and hyperbole over something that smacks of "well, we did it because we could." I agree with Steve.Hammill - Where's the beef? This is all sizzle and nothing to bite down on. For one thing, I have no desk surface I'm willing to give up for a "normal" mouse. My pointing device is a trackball - three buttons on the right of a thumb-driven ball. I built a slide-out tray for it that hangs under my desk and places the trackball at exactly chair-arm height. Zero ergonomic strain (as there would be using a mouse on the desktop), the real estate on the upper horizontal surface is more gainfully employed, and I already use gestures, in many ways, to control my pointer and apps. Not worth $60-plus to me, let alone the loss of desk space close to my dominant hand.

steve.hammill
steve.hammill

I haven't read anything about how this improves my user experience or increases the capabilities of my computer. I hear costs money, new paradigm to learn, bad program flow in install program, get used to Windows 8, and so on. So what's in it for me? I never cared for or used the wheel on the wheel mouse much. There's only one gesture appropriate for this "innovation" but you didn't explain what the mouse would do with a flying, fickle finger.

Thack
Thack

I feel you've missed a showstopper (which also applies to the Apple Magic) mouse: it only has one microswitch, and the whole front of the mouse dips when you do a click. It differentiates between left and right clicks by monitoring which fingers are resting on the mouse top surface. Unfortunately, this means you must lift the left finger completely clear of the mouse if you want to do a right click. If you forget, you get a left click. Also, you can't do any mouse "chording" (any gestures which involve both buttons being pressed at the same time). This is totally brilliant for the forward/back navigation in Opera (and, via plugins, for most other browsers - check out 'Mouse Gestures'). I really dislike the dipping front action which you get with the Apple Magic (and now this Touch Mouse). I just want the bit under my finger to move: the tactile feedback is so much better. This, combined with the inability to "roll" the left/right buttons to navigate in Opera, renders the mouse completely useless for me. I'm really sad about it: I would LOVE to use the gestures this mouse provides. Thack

journeygr
journeygr

Okay, Apple did it first. MS did it later. It's not innovative, it's an old idea! We got it! But seriously, this is what it's all about? Who did it first? Or if it does any difference? As far as I know, other social network sites were around before facebook. But thats just my opinion...

trashmail
trashmail

For those of you who don't expand all replies, I summarize a reply above: This is a Microsoft knock off of the Apple Magic mouse, introduced in 2009: http://www.apple.com/magicmouse/ I'm not sure anything about it is innovative. The original mouse appeared on Apple machines long before Windows, and anyone who used a Mac Lisa or the original Mac was using the equivalent of Windows 95 in 1988. Apple licensed it GUI technology to Microsoft, leading to a dispute which was settled in favor of Microsoft. Again, it's clear who the innovators are and who the copiers are.

rciadan
rciadan

I have mice just laying about waiting to be used. This is far too much money to spend on what is essentially an "unneeded novelty".

tiredoftechrepublic
tiredoftechrepublic

@mig25jet... Google 'Wacom' (and they did ask me... see below) @Palmetto... seems you have found your comfort level @BillGates_z... for you, maybe @AtlantaTerry... Google 'USB Hub' or 'USB to PS2 adaptor' @GrizzledGeezer... sorry, you are wrong about the statement, '...because only Apple ever does anything innovative.' @jim.lonero... nice to hear a positive post I like the Touch Mouse... anything that replaces a mechanical switch, could be an improvment... Since this is a new device, who knows how it will evolve. For myself, just replacing the 'scroll wheel' with the center sensor, would be nice. I will buy one of these devices (and write it off, as reseach) Thanks Greg!

mig25jet
mig25jet

I would be interested to find out how this product was engendered. My guess is that they did not ASK users what they would like FIXED with the current mouse interface. This sound as useless as the touch screen interface on my phone. With this new interface, will one be able to draw or sketch in Paint as well as one can do with a pen and paper? That's is what I'd like fixed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

$65 sounds like a lot to replace a piece of equipment I already have and doesn't appear to bring any new functionality. I probably wouldn't remember the gestures anyway.

BillGates_z
BillGates_z

Good for those who don't really want to smear fingers across their screens. Opens up many new avenues for hysterical results of mis - gestures

AtlantaTerry
AtlantaTerry

I'm a photographer so use Photoshop as part of my work. How does this new mouse work with packages that expect "typical" mouse input? I'm curious about something. Since MS gives you a wire why not one that plugs into a PS/2 port instead of USB? Frankly, I'm running out of USB ports! Terry Thomas... the photographer Atlanta, Georgia USA http://www.TerryThomasPhotos.com

jim.lonero
jim.lonero

Your experiences sound encouraging and it seems it will not be difficult to learn. I still have difficulty using the mouse pad on my laptop and my wife's mac. Since I have W7, I look forward to trying this new mouse.

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

...on whether the press will ignore the Touch Mouse? It likely will, because only Apple ever does anything innovative.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you interested in taking advantage of Windows 7's touch-based features with the new Touch Mouse and it gestures? If you are already using the Touch Mouse, tell us what you think.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Corporate provided me with a Gateway netbook that is Bluetooth incapable.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Poor thing! This is the second post of yours here about your sickness. As you claim that your malady is caused by other peoples' opinions, your prognosis is NOT good. Perhaps you can have a prosthetic sense of humor implanted? I'd look into it. Get well soon! Seriously though, sir: how can posters' experiences--good and bad--with BOTH companies' versions of the mouse be avoided on this thread (as you would have it); that's exactly what the article is about! See, there was this old idea about an 'enhanced mouse', and BOTH of the two companies that you're sickened to hear compared have had their version of it. 'Here's the latest one of them; for Windows 8' warns the article's headline. Yet you still read the inevitable, relevant-to-the-article Apple/MS comparisons in the 'comments'? Knowing what that would do to your health? You have to WANT to get better, sir. ;)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I don't remember it being any different. Heck, it's actually improved recently.

harrylal
harrylal

Let's not forget that Apple didn't innovate the concept of GUI, Xerox did.

wyattharris
wyattharris

Having used the so called magic mouse it is not quite same. Yes the concept is similar but the difference is the Microsoft Touch is a good mouse. I don't get why Apple's mice function so much worse than the rest of their products.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Apple didn't see fit to develop this device for the other 95% of the PC market. If I can't use it, I don't care who developed it. Contrarily, a fancy mouse isn't enough of a difference to get me to switch to an Apple system.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

It sounds as though GrizzledGeezer's poignant sarcasm was lost on you; his comment was on the tech press's 'Apple bias'. He was not saying that he believes that about Apple; he was pointing out that the press would have YOU believe that 'only Apple ever does anything innovative.' Get it?!

wyattharris
wyattharris

Of course it won't "fix" that because it's not broken. No mouse is going to give you that functionality which is why they make tablets.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

The biggest thing that took some adjustment on my part was the "inertial scroll" - MS probably calls it something else. When you do the one-finger up/down sweep, like a wheel, if you lift your finger off the mouse as you do it, the page continues to scroll. That's a little different than the wheel that stopped as soon as you let go. But all you have to do is touch the mouse and it will stop, or just keep your finger on it and the page scroll will not "coast."

ray.menzel
ray.menzel

A USB hub should work if ur running out of USB ports. They are inexpensive and extremely effective. One USB can serve up 127 additional ports if my memory serves me well.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...a standard mouse. As far as working in Photoshop, you would have all the functionality of a standard mouse with the possibility of being able to use the gestures for certain types of tasks. I don't have a current copy of PhotoShop so I can't say for sure what thos might be...you'd have to do some experimentation. On the flip side, you can have a touch mouse and another mouse connected and use both simultaneously, if you wanted too.

trashmail
trashmail

Well, geezer.... Apple's touch mouse, called the Magic Mouse was actually introduced in 2009. That would be two years ago, geez. Two years. http://www.apple.com/magicmouse/ Who's innovating here and who is copying? Once again, Microsoft zooms into the past, reintroducing yesterday's tech to a market.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I decided to give it a try. The two- and three-finger gestures are handy and take only a little time to pick up and use. I like it and it's definitely a "keeper." I had issues with the thumb gestures because of the way I reach for the mouse and let go of it. I got random/unexpected "page forward" and "page back" with my browser, but this was simple to disable only the thumb gestures in the control panel.

tiredoftechrepublic
tiredoftechrepublic

It seems to me that TechRepublic has attracted too many PC troll and Apple trolls. All most of you people do is argue over which brand is better. You make me sick.

WinTard
WinTard

Maybe not on a mouse, but all my Dell laptops (D830, E6500, E6510, E6520) all had multitouch since well before 2009. http://i.imgur.com/w5X2G.png Now who's innovating here and who is copying? Once again, Apple zooms into the past, reintroducing yesterday's tech to a market pretending they originally invented it. Only the gullible fall for it. Google the terms elan sues apple multitouch and witness about 50,000 results... Hey nice try promulgating Apple FUD+BS propaganda. ~~~~~~~~~~ The more you learn, the more you realize you didn't know. That's the downside of continuing your education. The benefits come next.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Neither Microsoft NOR Apple are true technology innovators: neither creates new technology. But both companies are accomplished at packaging existing technology in new ways. In recent years, Apple has had more success with this than Microsoft. This may change with the departure of Steve Jobs.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... that you like the Touch Mouse and are adapting to using it. Like I said, once you get used to usig the gestures, you'll wonder how you got along without them.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Captain, since you found opinions about the press's less-than-objective reportage of different manufacturers' products to be the equivalent of 'posturing for the respective manufacturers' products themselves', it's probably a good idea to point out that those who use chat boards to gush about one product line over another (famous examples are MS v Apple, COD v BF2BC, Lamborghini v Ferrari etc) are called 'fanboys'. Your post above ("...All most of you people do is argue over which brand is better. You make me sick."), while not germane to the sub-topic---tech-press reportage---was a reference to those who dare mention a preference among companies who compete in the marketplace ('fanboys'). I'm sorry you can't tell the difference between 'consumers with a preference' and 'biased editorial mention'. 'Trolls', as opposed to 'fanboys', live to start invective-filled arguments at the expense of the topic (I notice your original post led off with 5 separate put-downs and would-be corrections before your actual comment about the peripheral accessory in question). Fanboys, at their worst, are simply enthusiasts with a preference; trolls, on the other hand, start little trash-fires of invective on these boards for their own amusement. I'm NOT, actually, a partisan of either MS or Apple; to me, they both make tools, and I'm more inclined to gush over one's art than I am one's art-supplies. As Nick N pointed out, what I did was identify for you two rhetorical devices being used in a prior comment, which were lost on you: 'hyperbole' and 'sarcasm'. YOU started the little trash-fire in here with your 'roll-call' of invective and condescension. The troll on this thread's identity is obvious.....