This week Microsoft Hardware is celebrating 25 years of staying ahead of the computing curve by delivering groundbreaking peripherals that make the software and services experience better and easier. What began in 1982 with a Microsoft Mouse designed to easily navigate Microsoft Corp.’s first version of Microsoft Word has grown to an extensive line-up of innovative, indispensable products for today’s computer-centric lifestyle.

Over the past 25 years, Microsoft Hardware has designed and developed a wide assortment of computer peripherals to fit a variety of customer needs, from mice and keyboards to webcams, headsets and gaming devices. With products including the world’s first optical mouse, the award-winning Natural line of ergonomic products and the new SideWinder Mouse, Microsoft Hardware continues to create inventive peripherals that connect to the software and services consumers rely on to make computing easier, fun and more productive.

“When we first formed Microsoft Hardware in 1982 our mission was to develop a device that would help people use Microsoft’s new wordprocessing programme (sic),” said Danica Aitken, product marketing manager – CPXG, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft New Zealand. “Twenty-five years later, we have continually raised the bar, designing revolutionary peripherals that deliver groundbreaking performance, comfort and design.”

In the same way that the first mouse from Microsoft connected with Microsoft Word, the Hardware Group continues to create easy solutions to manage and access the technologies and products that are shaping the way people use their PCs: Windows Vista , the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Windows Live and Games for Windows titles.

“At Microsoft Hardware, we are fortunate to have the ability to integrate across all groups in ways that ultimately make life easier for our consumers,” said Aitken. “This year we are launching the LifeCam VX-7000 that includes the new Photo Swap feature reinforcing the seamless integration with Windows Live and we are bringing back the SideWinder line with the ultimate gaming mouse — the SideWinder Mouse.”

Going Mobile

Microsoft Hardware is taking mobile computing to a new level with the Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000, the industry’s first rechargeable notebook mouse with 1 GB of flash memory built right into the transceiver. Designed to prevent Universal Serial Bus (USB) port shortage, the single transceiver is a three-in-one supertool that lets users simultaneously work wirelessly, save important files with 1 GB of storage and recharge the mouse without deficiency in performance — all through one USB port.

Microsoft is also introducing the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 and the Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 7000. Designed to make notebook computing more productive and reduce touchpad fatigue, these mice provide superior wireless technology and sleek, compact designs to keep users working on the go.

Microsoft Hardware’s Got Game

Microsoft Hardware has revived its SideWinder line with its first gaming mouse built from the ground up. The Sidewinder line transcends the mouse category to enable a customisable and integrated gaming experience. The Microsoft SideWinder Mouse was created to meets gamers’ individual needs, providing custom tuning tools and a comfortable design for ultimate handling. Features include one-touch access to Windows Vista Games Explorer, Quick Turn — a performance-enhancing macro that lets users check their perimeter from wherever they are in-game; — the first-ever LCD on a gaming mouse and a cable anchor that doubles as an accessories storage box.

The Ultimate Keyboard

The Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 was dubbed the “ultimate keyboard” when it was unveiled last year and illustrates Microsoft Hardware’s history of evolving and transforming the desktop computing experience. With the industry’s first wireless rechargeable and backlit desktop, this masterful combination of futuristic industrial design and productivity-enhancing features is only an inch thick. Filled with deluxe enhancements that allow users to work and play where, when and how they want taking advantage of Windows Vista, this desktop allows users to easily accomplish everyday tasks, instantly find what they are looking for and enjoy the latest in entertainment.

Getting Comfortable

Continuing its history of setting new benchmarks for desktop innovation and ergonomic design, Microsoft has introduced the Natural® Ergonomic Desktop 7000. Responding to the growing need for comfortable peripherals Microsoft makes optimal use of the ergonomic designs of the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and the award-winning Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000.

Stay Connected

Microsoft Hardware is providing an exciting and easy way to share photos and memories with two new webcams, the LifeCam VX-7000 designed for the desktop and the LifeCam NX-3000 for notebooks. Both webcams feature Photo Swap which allows consumers to share digital photos with friends and family and see their reactions in real time. The LifeCams’ sleek new design blends into the PC monitor, allowing consumers to concentrate on the important things in life: connecting and sharing with friends and family.

Pricing and Availability

The products introduced today will be available to customers through major retailers or local computers store in the following months. The recommended retail prices re as follows:

September 2007

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 $219.00

October 2007

Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 $519.00

November 2007

Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 $79.00

Microsoft Sidewinder Mouse $149.00

Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 $159.00

Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000 $189.00

Microsoft LifeCam NX-3000 $99.00

December 2007

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 7000 $119.00

Look out for Gameplanet's review of some of the new Microsoft hardware coming soon. In the meantime, check out a couple of pics from this week's media gathering on Monday to celebrate the anniversary.