No Food for Thought

Microsoft - Left-handedness is evil (but less so if your hand is holding a Microsoft mouse)

admin Monday March 10, 2014

Today appears to be my Microsoft rant day. Sorry, that might have been prompted by an awful experience claiming the warranty for a broken Microsoft keyboard. Readers who are free of Microsoft products have my apologies (and much luck).

As Ned Flanders brilliantly illustrates in The Simpsons, left-handedness is an economic problem. Mass production of artefacts for a majority of right-handed consumers disadvantages left-handed people. Keeping 2 items in stock - for one thing - comes at a price.

On the other hand, when a company produces software, being friendly to left-handed people shouldn't be costly. There is no marginal cost to a software sale, right? Well, it appears that the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center isn't right at the center on the issue of handedness.

The ability to invert the mouse buttons has been present since at least Windows 95. Not a surprise, since handedness is possibly the most important mouse setting. However, when I bought my Microsoft keyboard, Windows automatically installed the modern Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. I had previously noticed that the center was a regression for people often moving their mouse to the other side like me. Rather than controlling a checkbox in the control panel, inverting the buttons requires to redefine the behavior of each button via the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. Microsoft's configuration center removed the checkbox from the control panel.

What I hadn't noticed is that if your mouse is not supported, it does not appear in the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. And the control panel's checkbox is still gone. So if you own a Logitech or some even rarer mouse like I do, you're not dreaming. There is actually no way to invert your mouse buttons with this software installed, even in Windows 8.1. And this is not a new problem! Worst, I believe Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center had at least one feature. When you invert buttons with it, your RDP sessions will handle clicks correctly, as opposed to the default behavior from Windows, which I will be forced to live with.

In a sense, I'd like to think that this is an abuse of vendor lock-in. Because if it's not, this is proof of terrific incompetence.

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