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Manufacturer: Microsoft
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port

Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer for Bluetooth
May 30, 2003 | Lucian Fong

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Microsoft has jumped on another opportunity in the free market. No, they didn't snatch up another game studio or "copy" a feature from Apple's operating system. This time, Microsoft is trying to capitalize on technology that few companies have yet to invest in: Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is an emerging wireless standard for short range communication between low bandwith devices such as PDAs, cellular phones, input devices, printers, and the like. In order for two devices to communicate with each other, they need to have a transceiver (transmitter-receiver) built in. A Bluetooth device can transmit and receive data at 1 megabit per second, at a maximum range of about 30 feet. Transceivers for a computer can talk to up to seven Bluetooth devices at once.

Apple's new PowerBooks and Power Macs have built-in Bluetooth capability; those who don't can buy a $50 transceiver that plugs into any powered USB port. Many Mac users are already wirelessly synchronizing their mobile phones and PDAs with their Macs. There is even an application that will set the away message of your instant messaging client based on the proximity of your Bluetooth phone to your computer.

In response to the dearth of Bluetooth peripherals for PCs, Microsoft modified the Wireless Optical Desktop to meet Bluetooth standards, bundled it with a Bluetooth wireless transceiver, and hailed it as "the most advanced wireless desktop ever." They may be the first company (as far as I know) to release a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but judging by the growing popularity of this wireless technology, they won't be the last.

Apple added support for Bluetooth in Mac OS X 10.2 and they have improved compatibility with devices in every OS update. In 10.2.5, support was added for Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth. Today, the Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer for Bluetooth (which I'll call the Bluetooth IntelliMouse from now on) will be put under scrutiny.


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