Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse Blue

by Joe Gillespie — Mar 1, 2003
computer mouse

Although I use a Mac most of the time, there's one thing that really annoys me - Apple's insistence in providing only a single-button mouse. Even though Mac OSes have supported contextual menus for many years, you have to use two hands to access them – one for the mouse button and one for the Control key. To me, this is just plain daft and Apple's refusal to acknowledge that Microsoft has got something right.

So, whenever I buy a new Mac, the mouse stays in its cellophane – goodness knows, I have a whole drawerful of them now. At least the piles of AOL disks that land on my doormat can be used to scare birds away from the vegetables in the garden.

I've been using multi-button mice for years now. Microsoft Wheel Mouse Opticals on my two desktop Macs and PC and a neat little two button, silver Contour mouse on my G4 PowerBook.

Where optical mice are a big improvement over the old roller-ball type, there is still that cable that ends up twisted and mucky and always gets caught-up on a monitor foot when I'm trying to draw a long, straight line in Illustrator. So, I thought I would try the wireless version of my favorite Microsoft Optical mouse.

The Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse Blue is about the same size in the hand as the regular 'tailed' mouse but because it contains a couple of AA size batteries, it is a little heavier – but not too heavy. It looks good. It feels good.

Although it's called 'wireless', it doesn't actually work by radio. There is a new BlueTooth mouse available but this one communicates with its 'base station' via an infra-red link. The base station is about the same size as the mouse and can be placed behind the monitor, out of the way. It doesn't actually need direct line-of-sight with the mouse to operate and seems to work fine pointing in any direction, certainly at desktop ranges.

The base station plugs into the computer's USB port. I had a slight problem if I used the regular mouse-port at the end of the Mac's keyboard, it didn't seem to have enough power to drive the base station and the mouse would be frozen at start-up. Unplugging and reconnecting the USB plug always got the mouse working, but was a pain. Plugging into the USB hub in the back of my monitor instead, solved the problem completely.

The software for the mouse allows the usual tracking and double-clicking speeds to be set and its three buttons and scroll wheel to be configured. The only change I made from the default settings was to make the right mouse button send a control-click message to bring-up contextual menus. Once you've got used to this right button click, there is definitely no going back. I've even got used to using the scroll wheel in my Web browser, but I don't find the scroll-wheel button click all that useful.

The mouse works flawlessly in OS 9 and OSX with the drivers provided. I have no doubt it works just as well in Windows too - I haven't actually tried it yet, but I will.

With all their other so-called innovations, why does Apple doggedly stick to their one-button mice? For most people, a two button mouse will improve productivity more than two processors – at a fraction of the cost!

Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse Blue
Features red bar95%
Ease of Use yellow bar85%
Value for Money green bar85%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar90%
Manufacturer Microsoft
Price Around $31.00(Amazon) Windows or Mac.
Summary Great mouse – with no strings attached!
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