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Microsoft to License Mouse Technologies

Wanted: Wealthy technology firm seeks third-party keyboard and mice makers for joint commerce. Object: Matrimo. . . err . . . Making money.

Microsoft announced late Tuesday that, as part of a continuing initiative, it will license to third parties technologies previously unavailable to competitors in the input hardware marketplace. The technologies up for license include the company’s U2 interface detection and switching technology, the Windows mouse Tilt Wheel, and the Magnifier tool.

That means that third-party hardware manufactures will soon be able to make keyboards and mice that take advantage of these proprietary patented technologies.

The aim, Microsoft said in statements online, is to make its technologies “broadly available to third-party brands and hardware manufacturers in the mobile and desktop peripherals industry. “By expanding its intellectual property licensing to address increased market demand within the consumer electronics industry, Microsoft is encouraging shared success by opening revenue-generating opportunities for Microsoft partners,” the statements continued.

Microsoft’s says the move is just the latest since it announced in December 2003 it would make its intellectual property portfolio broadly available for licensing to all interested parties.

The U2 interface detection and switching technology enables a peripheral to be connected to a computer using either a PS2 or USB auto-sensing interface, enabling devices such as keyboards or mice to figure out the type of connection the PC requires without user input.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Tilt Wheel is a hardware component of mice and some keyboards that lets users tilt the scroll wheel horizontally or vertically to maneuver the cursor. And the Magnifier provides mice users with a virtual magnifying glass that they can use to enlarge hard-to-read text or graphics on-screen. The Magnifier was introduced during the 2005 holiday season with ten new Microsoft mice.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.