Microsoft has developed a new keyboard that works with a variety of operating systems. In addition to Microsoft's own desktop OS Windows, the "universal" keyboard will also be compatible with the iOS and Android mobile operating systems by Apple and Google. Ironically, about the only device it will not work with is a Windows phone.
The Redmond, Washington-based company is promoting the peripheral's ability to connect with both tablets and smartphones. In addition, Microsoft says the keyboard can be paired with as many as three different devices and quickly swapped between different OSes by flipping its "Operating System switch."
Six Months' Battery Life
The Universal Mobile Keyboard, as Microsoft has named it, is a full QWERTY keyboard that will work with iPads, iPhones, Windows PCs, and Windows and Android tablets. Not only that, but it also supports each platform's unique special key, including the Apple Command key and Windows Control key.
Devices must be running Windows 8 or higher; Windows RT; Apple iOS 6 or higher; or Android 4. The keyboard also requires devices to have Bluetooth Human Interface Device keyboard support in order to work, which is why they are not compatible with Windows Phone. It is listed at $79.95 on the Microsoft Web site, although it will not be made available until October.
The device runs on a rechargeable battery, which Microsoft says can last up to six months following a single overnight charge. Charging the device for only ten minutes provides up to 8 hours of use, it claims. It also sports a Home key, designed to work with the home screens of most mobile devices, and provides media playback controls.
Thin, Light, Portable
In addition to its ability to work with multiple operating systems, Microsoft is also promoting the keyboard's mobility and form factor, pitching it as a way to stay productive on the go without having to lug a heavier laptop around. The device connects via Bluetooth, eliminating the need for cables.
It also sports a slim form factor, coming in at only 0.47 inches thick and weighing just under 13 ounces. Interestingly, Microsoft opted not to include a touchpad, sacrificing gesture input functionality in order to allow the keyboard to be able to be compatible with multiple operating systems.
It also comes with a protective cover and a stand designed to allow the user to mount their mobile device. The device can be powered on and off by opening and closing the cover, similar to the way some laptops can be quickly awoken or put to sleep.
The cover also uses a magnetic assembly for easy attachment and removal. "Getting stuff done while you're on the go has never been easier," Microsoft wrote on its site. "The Universal Mobile Keyboard lets you get real work done with just your tablet or smartphone."