It's taken three and a half decades, but Microsoft has finally made the ultimate mouse.
The Bluetooth-enabled Surface Precision Mouse, which Microsoft revealed in October alongside the second generation of its high-end Surface Book convertible laptop, is very comfortable while still looking elegant. It's got six customizable buttons, a rechargeable battery, a thumb rest, and a scroll wheel that can be switched from smooth and fast vertical scrolling to granular line-by-line scrolling. And you can use it with up to three PCs at the same time.
In other words, it's just right -- even if it does run on the expensive side at $100. Mice from Logitech and Razer have boasted some of its features, but none has felt this natural.
While Amazon, Apple and Google are busy refining smart speakers that house their respective virtual assistants, Microsoft in recent years has focused on getting more traditional hardware right. The Surface Studio all-in-one desktop PC is an engineering marvel. The Surface tablet has spawned countless imitations. And the latest Xbox is the world's most powerful console. Office and Windows certainly bring Microsoft more revenue than Surface and Xbox products, but at the same time, the company has visibly raised its hardware standards under the leadership of Satya Nadella.
In years past, certain Microsoft mice have had shortcomings. The Intellimouse, which debuted in 1996, was corded or required an unwieldy wireless receiver for the better part of a decade. The Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, which arrived in 2006, was said to have strangely placed buttons. The Explorer Mini Mouse, which showed up in 2008, had no off switch. The Arc Touch Mouse, which debuted in 2010, could lie flat but was an ergonomic mess.
The Surface Precision Mouse has none of these drawbacks.
What it does have is a sliver of a button tucked behind the scroll wheel that makes a pleasant clunking sound when pushed. It immediately becomes obvious what role this button serves when you glide your finger on the scroll wheel. With the push of the little button, you can switch between very speedy scrolling or something a lot more precise, which can come in handy when exploring long files and websites. Scrolling in fast mode is strangely satisfying. It's like gliding your finger along a stack of fresh printer paper.
If you have a Mac, you won't be able to customize the buttons, but if you're running Windows -- with the exception of the new Windows 10 S -- you'll be able to tweak their functions with the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center software. The battery inside the mouse can't be removed, but Microsoft says a single charge will last for up to three months, and you can recharge the battery with an included micro-USB cable. Unlike Apple's Magic Mouse, the port is at the front end of the mouse, so you'll still be able to use it while it's charging.
Do you need a mouse like this if you have one that works perfectly well? Of course not. But this is a mouse I love to use. And if you sit in front of the computer every day like me, then you might just come to love it, too.