The Action Center
While touch is a big component of Windows 8, I've been a big proponent of using a keyboard and a mouse in Windows 8 on a desktop system. (Just check out some of my keyboard and mouse articles.) Well, a few weeks ago after installing Windows 8 Pro on my system, I decided to break out my Microsoft Touch Mouse and see how it would function in my new Windows 8 installation and I have to tell you that I'm definitely loving the way this device brings together the best of both worlds. I still have my hand solidly on my mouse but am able to really take advantage of all sorts of touch-based gestures.
As you may know, I've had this touch mouse for a while and have dabbled with it in the various preview versions of Windows 8; however, I never really was satisfied with the way that it behaved. Maybe I was being stubborn, wanting to stay away from touch on a desktop system, or maybe I just really never gave it a chance to take hold. But now that Windows 8 has been released and the new Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center is available, I have definitely gained a new appreciation for using this mouse's touch-based features in Windows 8.
For instance, using simple touch swipes across the top of my mouse I can instantly switch between active apps, access app commands, conjure up the Semantic Zoom feature, pull out the Charm bar, and even flip Back and Forward between pages in Internet Explorer. While it took a little getting used to, I now wholeheartedly recommend that anyone using Windows 8 on a desktop get and use a Microsoft touch mouse. (There's more than one now, as you'll see in a moment.)
In this article, I'll briefly go over the installation procedure for the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center and then show you how the tutorial works. The reason being is that I want to show you just how easy it is to learn and use the gestures provided by the touch mouse to navigate some of the touch-based features in Windows 8 and the screen shots of the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center tutorial do an excellent job of illustrating the gestures.
Getting a touch mouse
Keep in mind that while I am using the original Microsoft Touch Mouse, there are now a whole slew of other Microsoft touch mice, such as the Explorer Touch Mouse and the Wedge Touch Mouse. While the Microsoft Touch mice sell for anywhere from $50 to $80 on the Microsoft Store, I've seen them in the $18 to $50 range on Amazon. With Black Friday just around the corner, you might even be able to get your hands on a touch mouse (pun intended) for even cheaper.
Depending on which Microsoft touch mouse you use or if you purchase a new touch mouse with the software included, your experience may be slightly different. But, in my case, using the original touch mouse that I've had for over a year, this is what I encountered.
When I connected the Microsoft Touch Mouse USB transceiver to my Windows 8 system, the operating system installed the device drivers. I then saw an Action Center notification appear. Upon accessing the Action Center, I saw that in the Maintenance section I was being prompted to install software, as shown.
Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic