Microsoft may be the world's biggest software company, but it has fingers in the hardware peripherals pie too. The company enjoys a profitable sideline making keyboards and mice, and the Microsoft Explorer Mouse seems likely to continue its run of quiet success.
Ergonomically the Microsoft Explorer Mouse is highly satisfactory, with five buttons falling neatly under the fingers. It's a touch bulkier than we're used to, but is comfortable nevertheless, and reasonably nice-looking - although minimalism points are docked for the three different surfaces: matt dark grey, shiny mid grey and silver. Blue lights around the mirrored base give it a modern look.
Microsoft claims that the Microsoft Explorer Mouse can be used on ‘virtually any surface', thanks to the company's proprietary BlueTrack LED imaging technology. True to its word, the Explorer coped with bare table, carpet and even a trousered leg, although glass and mirror are beyond its powers.
On the down side, however, we had some issues with the Microsoft Explorer Mouse's tracking speed. Microsoft's bundled IntelliPoint software offers you approximately twice as many tracking-speed calibration points as you would normally have, for greater customisability - enter the system preferences and you'll be able to select either general system tracking speed or IntelliPoint pointer speed.
Unfortunately, our test Microsoft Explorer Mouse seemed slightly confused by this, occasionally returning to default speed when switching application, which was a distraction when attempting to multitask.
It's a wireless mouse, which means one fewer wire cluttering the desktop; but one extra thing that can go wrong in the middle of a piece of work. Microsoft claims a wireless range of 30ft, and our testing corroborated that. Indeed, you'll find you can move the cursor about even when you're too far away to see what's happening on screen. Some might consider this overkill, but it's an impressive demonstration of the strength of the wireless signal, and bodes well for sustained use.
A smaller version of the Explorer, the Microsoft Explorer Mini Mouse, is also available for £29. Other than its size, this is identical to the larger product. Each is compatible with both Windows and Apple Macintosh.
Comfortable to use, reasonably good-looking and proficient in the wireless department, the Microsoft Explorer Mouse is a thoroughly decent piece of kit.