Microsoft – Wireless Optical Desktop Executive Edition review

A leather-effect keyboard and mouse kit. Really.
Photo of Microsoft – Wireless Optical Desktop Executive Edition

Here’s a question for you. How much would you pay for a keyboard and mouse set? In days gone by, you might be tempted to stretch to £50 or £60, perhaps, assuming the right combination of features and comfort. Yet to have the pleasure of a Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Executive Edition in front of you, Mr Gates’ empire will be looking to relieve you of a cool £119.99.

You’d expect to get something rather smart for that amount of cash, and to a degree you’d be right. At heart, this is the Wireless Optical Desktop that’s earned Microsoft a good few bucks over the past months, and with good reason. First off, it’s very comfortable to use. The keys feel right, it’s ergonomically sound and it looks the business.

Focusing on the keyboard in more detail, it also has a healthy selection of programmable quick access buttons. On top of these are keys that Microsoft has entitled ‘My Favourites.’ The idea here is that you link each of these buttons to a certain document or Web link, and one tap then takes you directly there. A nice idea.

The mouse is a chunky optical device which utilizes the new tilt wheel function that Microsoft has been working on. Whereas the wheel in the middle of a mouse traditionally allows you to scroll up and down a document, the functionality has now been incorporated to allow side to side movement as well.

The unit also features two extra buttons on the left of the mouse (which control jumping between pages in Internet Explorer as a default), and Microsoft claims it can run for six months off a single set of batteries.

This is a wireless set, which does mean that you initially need to run through the supplied setup software to get things working. However, that’s a breeze, and it took us minutes to be fully up and running, with keyboard and mouse happily talking to our computer.

So far so good, then, but why the sky-high price tag? Well, the twist here is that both the keyboard and mouse are coated in a material that gives a leather effect and feel. It’s not true leather, but is still designed to give the kit a sheen of class. Perhaps it does, but this left us a little cold, in all honesty. That said, we’re sure there’s a target market out there which will lap this up.

For the rest of us, you can get the same kind of features from keyboards lower down on Microsoft’s price chart. Microsoft knows that, too, and probably isn’t expecting many of the Executive Edition kits to sell to the traditional consumer.

We’ve few qualms about the hardware itself, but we have to make the point that this is an unashamed luxury item that’s got an excellent keyboard and mouse set at the heart of it. Lose that leather effect, and a good chunk of money instantly drops off the price tag.

Company: Microsoft

Contact: 0345 00 2000

This is excellent hardware, undoubtedly, but for the majority of us, a leather-effect keyboard and mouse set isn't enough to part us from £120. Shopping around can get you almost as good for a healthy amount less.