Microsoft has just unveiled two new accessories that it hopes customers will want to tether to its upcoming Surface Windows 8 tablets to help make the machines more productive. Thing is, with such a focus on traditional computing, is Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft missing the point of what a tablet is built to do?
The Wedge keyboard and mouse duo are designed to work with Windows 8. The mouse in particular is a pretty bold departure in terms of design, loooking a bit like a chunkier Apple Magic Trackpad. As well it should – with Windows 8 requiring an awful lot of scrolling, it makes sense for Microsoft to make a touch sensitive mouse for doing just that.
But while you could use the Wedge mouse in any scenario, the keyboard is an interesting choice because, like the keyboard cases demoed at the Surface’s launch event, it’s specifically designed for tablets.
The Wedge keyboard pops out of a case that folds to become a stand for the Surface tablets. It strengthens the idea that Microsoft expects people to use Windows 8 tablets on desks, as computers.
And if that’s what Microsoft is wanting people to do, then the company is setting up its tablet business to be very different to the one on iOS and (ASUS’ Transformer series notwithstanding) Android. Tablets appeal because you don’t have to be at a desk to use them.
The iPad’s sold so well because it’s a computer you can hold in bed or on your lap. Microsoft’s insistence on people using a physical keyboard suggests that it’s not that confident in Windows 8’s ability to fulfill that role. After all, when you’re using a tablet at a desk with a dedicated keyboard and mouse, why not just use a computer?
The Wedge keyboard will set you back $80 (£51), and the Wedge mouse will cost $70 (£45).