Microsoft is reinventing the mouse wheel, adding "Tilt Wheel Technology" for horizontal scrolling and smoothing the vertical scroll motion.
The tilting wheel allows a user to scroll left and right as well as up and down without having to use the on-screen navigation bars. This can be handy when working on a large spreadsheet or trying to view an unwieldy Web site, Microsoft (MS) said.
The company planned to launch three mice with the new tilting wheel on September 3, one corded and two cordless operating at 27MHz, a company spokesperson said.
The mice would also have a feature that lets users toggle between open applications on a PC by pressing down on the wheel, she said.
Eight out of every 10 mice sold in the US has a scroll wheel, according to Microsoft, citing research by NPD Techworld. However, users wanted more, Microsoft said.
The vendor said it found strong demand for horizontal scrolling in its own research.
Microsoft rival, Logitech, is happy that Microsoft is following suit with a button to switch between applications, a feature Logitech introduced a year ago, but isn't too convinced about demand for horizontal scrolling.
"It is not to say that horizontal scrolling is good or bad, but the things that customers say they want to do with their mouse are the things we have already implemented," a senior product manager with Logitech, Lloyd Klarke, said.
Klarke also said there was a clear purpose for the "clicks" a user feels when scrolling vertically.
With Microsoft's new wheel there were no clicks when scrolling up and down.
Logitech studied the clicks and found them key to the scrolling experience, Klarke said.
"Customers need some sort of détente, a click, to know that they are moving to the next line," he said. "What they don't want is either absent or over-emphasised clicks. We spent a long time measuring to get the right feel.'
The new Microsoft mice will be sold worldwide. Further product and pricing details will be announced at a launch. Pricing is expected to be in line with Microsoft's current mouse portfolio that ranges from $US34.95 to $US44.95 for corded and 27MHz cordless mice. Microsoft's Bluetooth mouse cost $US84.95, the company said.
Before Microsoft launches its products, three new Logitech mice will hit the stores.
These new mice in the Click series sported new designs but no new features and ranged in price from $US24.95 for a corded version to $US49.95 for a cordless version with many features, Klarke said.