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I'm a total Apple addict, as you might tell.

I can't believe I just bought a Microsoft mouse!

And not just any old mouse, but a Microsoft Mouse! Not even a Logitech. I feel like an explanation is in order...

In 2006, I purchased the Mighty Mouse to complement my MacBook Pro. That mouse broke a year later and I had to run out and buy another one. In 2008, My Mac Pro came with a USB Mighty Mouse. I’ve owned several MacBooks over the years and have found myself moving between the wired and wireless Mighty Mice I have.

A year later, that Mighty Mouse started having issue with scrolling and needed to be cracked open and repaired. In 2010 I finally replaced that Mighty Mouse with the all new Magic Mouse. I also purchased a Magic Trackpad, so that I could enjoy the multitouch goodness the MacBook community had all come to know and love.

So you see, I’ve used a lot of Apple branded mice since 2006. With all my hardware being Apple branded, it always seemed silly to me to have an out-of-place third party mouse.

But you know what? As amazing as Apple is, they just can’t make a good mouse! Let’s face it, the scroll ball on the Mighty Mouse was a joke. The mouse was rendered useless by the trackball getting stuck after about a year. Ever other Apple mouse I’ve owned has lasted decades!

Is it just me or does the Magic Mouse stink too? The movement is very jittery and the tracking is horrible. Half the time I have to move the mouse an inch or so before it’s even recognized. It constantly disconnects and reconnects on its own. I’m forever putting new batteries in it. My Mighty Mouse used to last at least 3 months on a set of AAs. I even went as far as purchasing Apple’s new battery charger to save some money on batteries. They are supposed to be made from some game changing next gen battery tech, but I’ve found that the Magic Mouse’s performance really starts to decline after about 2 weeks. The same as the cheapie batteries I get at Costco in a 40 pack for $10 bucks. So I don’t know what they were talking about with all the hype. They’re also supposed to survive 1000 charges. What god is that when you have to charge them every 2 weeks? I’d rather have 10 charges if it meant I didn’t have to charge them for 3 months.

I don’t remember having these issues with Snow Leopard. I don’t know if it’s upgrading to Lion that did it, or if it’s just age. It’s very frustrating to use. I’ve grown tired of fighting it. I want a mouse that just works! I like the Magic Trackpad, but I can’t use it all day long. The angle that it sits is just high enough to put a bend in my wrist that strains my hand after a while. I actually find it tedious to use and it actually requires a conscious effort to use. I like a mouse that I can just rest my hand on and use with little or no effort.

Being forced to use a PC at work, I use the cheapest piece of junk HP USB mouse that money can buy. And you know what? It just works. That’s what I need. I set out to buy a new mouse. I could have found exactly what I was looking for online, but I was out with the family and we ended up at Best Buy. I figured I’d just pick up the cheapest mouse they had.

They must have had about a 100 different mice to choose from, but they were all wireless. No more batteries! Er!!!! I want an old school corded mouse! Low and behold, tucked away amongst all the other new fangled, highly overpriced gaming mice, was a no-frills USB Microsoft Mouse. It was $24 bucks. They also had the Dynex Best Buy generic brand of choice, but that looked like a real piece of junk. For the $4 additional bucks, the Microsoft one came with some side buttons. Sold.

So here it is. In all its glory. The Microsoft Comfort Mouse 4500. Ugly as sin, right? Black, I know... terrible. I would have preferred a white Logitech mouse, but they didn’t have any. Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to brick-and-mortar retail.

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It feels like I’m holding a baked potato. It’s twice as tall as the Magic Mouse. I’m not sure how comfortable it’s really going to be. I’ll have a better idea after a few days of use.

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They moved the optics to the palm-end of the mouse. Really? What purpose does that serve? When users are working with photo editing apps, CG, CAD, or any other program that requires a great degree of fine motor skills and discrete cursor manipulation, those fine motor controls are driven by the user’s finger tips, not with the palm of their hand. So what purpose does it serve moving the optics as far away as possible from the user’s finger tips?

Between the strange ergonomics and the optics, they probably spent $10 million in R&D. So who am I to question the bold design changes? Maybe I’m over analyzing it; maybe it doesn’t matter. I’ll let you know the next time I’m using Pixelmator.

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As far as OS X support goes, it works just like any other USB mouse should after plugging it in. No surprises there. However, I really wanted to use the two side buttons to launch Mission Control and Dashboard. Either that, or make them navigation buttons in Safari. I know I’m going to miss the swipe gestures I used on the Magic Mouse. I was hoping that a driver would be available to handle the task. I checked out Microsoft’s download page and found an OS X utility. Surprising.

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I ran the installer and was given a new preference pane in System Preferences.

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Of course, in the usual Microsoft style, they have to take something that should be really easy to do and screw it up. The driver clearly states that this utility is for OS X 10.4 - 10.7. So why is there no Mission Control or Launch Pad options available in the choices of user-assignable actions? Mission Control is one of Lion’s biggest features. Not to mention, why is Front Row and Expose listed? They were made obsolete with Lion. I get that a 10.4-10.6 user might want them, but I’m running 10.7. Your preference pane isn’t smart enough to know what OS I’m running and provide the options accordingly? Sad. And Sherlock? Are you kidding me? Sherlock? Sherlock was introduced in OS 8 and was killed in 10.4 with Spotlight. Why is that even listed? I’d love to see what code is supposed to fire when that option is chosen. The Dashboard option doesn’t work since it’s technically part of Mission Control now, but you’d think it would be smart enough to know that F4 should also do the trick. F4 has been the default key since 10.4. Apple even has an icon on the keyboard for it. And that “Handled by Mac OS” option? What exactly does Microsoft expect that to do?

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“Back” and “Forward” work no problem, so that’s a plus. As far as Mission Control and Dashboard, I figured I’d just choose “keystroke” and assign the native F3 and F4 keys to the mouse buttons. Unfortunately, they don’t let you specify a Function key. Now that’s just dumb. There’s nothing 10.7 compliant about this utility at all.

What I had to do was choose “Open Item” and browse to the Mission Control and Dashboard apps. It’s a good thing they can both actually be launched by an application icon. It fells like a hack, but it seemed to do the trick. Talk about jumping through hoops to accomplish the most basic of things. That’s how Microsoft rolls I guess.

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The scroll wheel also doubles as a third button when pressed, so I assigned Mission Control to that. I assigned Dashboard to one of the side buttons and made the other a Back button for Safari.

So far so good, now I’ll just have to use it for a week and decide how comfortable it really is. That, and wait for Apple to release another mouse that’s not a piece of junk.