Not Dead Yet Microsoft Peripherals Get Licensed To Onward Brands

After Microsoft announced in April of 2023 that they’d cease selling branded peripherals – including keyboards and mice – as part of its refocusing on Surface computers and accessories, there was an internet-wide outcry about this demise. Yet now it would seem that Microsoft has licensed the manufacturing of these peripherals to Incase, who will be selling a range of ‘Designed By Microsoft’ peripherals starting in 2024. Incase itself is a brand owned by Onward Brands, which is the portfolio manager for Incase and other brands.

Although Microsoft has been selling peripherals since the 1980s (with the Microsoft Mouse appearing in 1983), it seems that we now have to rely on this new company that is said to use the same suppliers as Microsoft did. As for what we can expect to see return with Incase, it’s effectively the same assortment of items that Microsoft was selling at the beginning of 2023, so we will likely not see the return of the Natural 4000 or other peripherals that saw their life cut short before this.

If Incase does manage to relaunch these products this year, which items would you be most interested in purchasing, and how many dozens of those did you manage to stock up on in April when the news broke?

I always said that Microsoft should have focused exclusively on making computer mice, it’s the one thing they ever did acceptably well. Let’s hope it’s not a second Lenovo.

I really really love the Microsoft Explorer Touch mouse. Sadly mine died after 7 or so years of daily abuse… I me stupid didn’t buy a value pack of 10. Next time I love a mouse that much I will buy a livelong supply of it.

… which will become obsolete as standards evolve …

They should have but I’m pretty sure it was manufactured for them by Logitech at some point not long after PS/2 became a thing and died out

they also used to make really good joysticks before they forced everyone to use xbox gamepads.

I don’t have personal experience with Microsoft hardware, but I know it has been said that their hardware was better than their software.

That’s a very low bar, though.

I was wondering if I should put that joke in myself, or let someone else do it for me 😉

Pretty much. I’ve used a Microsoft Natural keyboard for years. It was an amazing keyboard but it did cause RSI. It’s super comfy, but currently I’m using a simple 60% with gatorade blue (yes, I know) switches at home and it’s much much nicer.

So they’ll manufacture them, just Incase?

Only onwards

I wish they would bring back the original Microsoft Intellimouse, with the buttons on each side. Most comfortable mouse I’ve ever used, even if it was wired. I’ve worn out 3 of them and two cheap Chinese clones. Usually it’s the rubbery coating on the scroll wheel that starts crumbling and gumming up the scroll action but on two on them (one Microsoft and one Chinese) it was the cable that failed first.

I’m still rocking the Intellimouse! One at home, one at work. Thankfully mine have stood the test of time only requiring a few replacement switches.

Best mouse ever made IMHO. Great for us lefties… who thought handed mice were a good idea?

The original IntelliMouse didn’t have buttons on the sides, you’re almost certainly thinking of the IntelliMouse Optical, the fifth IntelliMouse.

Call me a cynic, but I expect to see the quality go down over time and a “designed by Microsoft” premium to be added to the price.

Okay, you’re a cynic. But, that doesn’t mean that I disagree.

that’s just usually what happens. theres even a law for it (i forget what its called). new product comes out, it has bugs, early adopters penalty. over time the product improves to the pinnacle of perfection and the product line is well established. eventually someone up top wants to milk it and start cost cutting and quality diminishes.

The Duracell Effect?


Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. Despite the somewhat low quality, it’s close to unrepairability, AA-battery operability, not using Bluetooth, and being sold with the worst mouse in written history and a useless numeric keyboard, it’s the best ergonomic keyboard that I have ever had. I just love the keys.

I think that this will be my trigger to create my own keyboard. Because even though the keyboard is the best ergonomic keyboard I have ever had, there are enough things that I think I can improve for my own personal use.

Similarly silent keys, with similar travel and Nm force keys, but slightly smaller and closer together, rechargeable, and bluetooth. And above all: slightly more compatible with Mac (Option and Command are being interchanged when you use this keyboard with a Mac).

To be honest, I think it was possible to buy just the keyboard, without the mouse and numeric keyboard. But I have never seen it in the wild. Always sold as complete ‘desktop solution’.

dude same. I love the keyboard. Great keys, good layout, mid mouse, bad melting rubber. I have my own ideas about customization so I won’t lead you astray, but the Kailh Choc low profile switches look like an alternative to scissor switches.

This. I recently got a Keychron Q5 which I just can’t use because straight keyboards kill my wrists. The Sculpt is the perfect size, with good support and it just works.

My wishlist for the Sculpt to make it that little better would be:

* Aiblity to switch between machines, either via two dongles or dongle for one bluetooth for others like Logitech do

* A Fn modifier rather than a slider. It’s annoying to slide it when you just need one F key one time and then slide it back

* An option for a slightly sturdier construction and better switches

But really, I can live with it. The Keychron is objectively better engineered, but weighing 2.3kg makes it annoying to move on my desk, whereas the Sculpt being light and wireless is a breeze. I don’t mind the AA batteries because they seem to last forever.

Initially there were two things I didn’t like about the sculpt: 1. The separate numpad (would love to see it attached to the main keyboard) and 2. the fn switch instead of button (though I learned to live with it). Apart from those two points the keyboard was perfect.

Until something falling from my desk broke the dongle in the USB port. Since you can’t pair the set to another dongle, I had to throw out the keyboard, numpad and mouse…

That sounds like a job for…a hacker!

I still use M$ wired natural keyboards at work, but use Logitech naturals as home. Both work fine. M$ could go away I suppose and I wouldn’t miss them. Mice are whatever is available. I see I am using Dell mice at work and Logitech at home.

Microsoft was a source from which I always found it possible to buy a good mouse, except for the aforementioned problem of decomposing rubber. The keyboards, not so much. The idea of having a key to disable the function keys is beyond mistaken. I’ve spent as long a 4 consecutive days wondering why function keys wouldn’t work.

Other manufacturers have the same issue. The biggest problem (according to a response from an actual expert on the subject within Logitech) is that Ph values differ between people. People in China have a more alkaline Ph content of their skin oils, compared to people in Europe for example. I had the Logitech G9x and it had this same problem. So when a company has their product tested in China and then uses those results to sell the product in other countries, this could lead to rubber decomposing due to a higher acidic skin oils of European people. It’s not just mice either. Keycaps become shinier faster, steering wheels of can have issues, etc.

My experience with Microsoft mice has been nothing but bad. I had many iMacs that I used to look after that would suffer from lockups and removal of the Microsoft mouse would be an instant fix. Then I would try to convince the owners to put it in the bin.

Bring back the Trackball Explorer

I hope some deal comes about to bring back the Microsoft IntelliMouse, I have used a number of IntelliMice over the years (and currently use a Microsoft IntelliMouse Classic) and they are some of the best mice I have ever used.

My experience with some entry-level Microsoft wireless mouse & keyboard combos is horrible. (I don’t even know the model number)

It’s not the mouse & keyboard themselves, but their wireless dongle.

Unlike Logitech’s dongle, Microsoft’s dongle is huge and protrudes 3-4cm from your machine, where it can be easily knocked off and get broken.

And this is where the real issue lies. Unlike Logitech’s dongles which can be paired with more than peripheral, Microsoft’s dongles are hardwired for the specific peripheral they were sold with. If your dongle was lost or got broken (which can easily happen), you can kiss your keyboard & mouse goodbye.



Hackaday Microsoft Peripherals

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