Microsoft extends licensing to mouse, keyboard

Decision marks the first time the software giant has signed up licensees for its hardware.

Microsoft is expanding its licensing to the keyboard and mouse, the first time the software giant has signed up licensees for its hardware technologies.

The move to license its hardware-related intellectual property comes at a time when the software giant is facing greater antitrust scrutiny aboard, as regulators express concern that the company is not providing competitors with adequate information for interoperability.

The hardware licensing initiative will include Microsoft's U2, Tilt Wheel and Magnifier technologies, the company said Wednesday.

U2, an interface detection and switching technology, is designed to automatically allow a keyboard or mouse to determine whether it needs a PS2 or USB connection to a computer. The Tilt Wheel lets people position the scroll wheel horizontally or vertically, so they may move the cursor in fluid motions. Microsoft's Magnifier technology is used as an editing and viewing tool for input devices, such as a mouse.

"Most people think of Microsoft as solely a software company, but we've been a leading hardware innovator and supplier to the desktop peripherals industry for over 20 years," Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, said in a statement.

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