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In context: Microsoft was one of the first companies to bring affordable hardware wonders like the mouse to PC users in the 1980s. Hardware has changed, and competition has increased since then, making it hard for the Redmond giant to justify the resource expenditure against its more modern hardware offerings like its Surface line.
Despite being one of the biggest players in the software industry, Microsoft has sold PC peripherals for three decades. The company had planned to leave that market, but the "Microsoft" brand will ultimately remain on many accessories for years to come.
Microsoft had announced it was leaving the PC accessory market to focus exclusively its Surface line last year. However, they didn't indicate what they would do with its peripheral division.
A recent announcement from Incase indicates that the Microsoft brand will remain on the market from 2024 forward. The design-driven company, which already makes and markets computer bags and other accessories, entered a "strategic partnership" with Microsoft that will allow it to offer a line of products dubbed "Incase Designed by Microsoft."
The company will start selling a brand-new line of computer accessories, preserving Microsoft's 30-year legacy of "expertise and innovation" with Incase's focus on performance and style. Since Redmond is not completely spinning off its division, fans of traditional (or not-so-traditional) Microsoft designs for PC peripherals will still see new branded offerings coming later this year.
Incase revealed the first 23 "Designed by Microsoft" computer accessories on its website. The list includes various keyboard styles, wireless mice, headsets, audio docks, webcams, and more. Further details about prices and release dates are undisclosed, but here is what is confirmed for release:
- Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (keyboard, mouse, number pad)
- Sculpt Comfort Desktop (keyboard, mouse)
- Wireless Comfort Desktop 5050 AES (keyboard, mouse)
- Wireless Desktop 850 (keyboard, mouse)
- Wireless Desktop 900 (keyboard, mouse)
- Wired Desktop 600 (keyboard, mouse)
- Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
- Ergonomic Keyboard
- Wired Keyboard 600
- Bluetooth Keyboard
- Designer Compact Keyboard
- Bluetooth Number Pad
- Mobile Mouse 1850
- Bluetooth Ergonomic Mouse
- Bluetooth Mouse
- Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse
- Modern Mobile Mouse
- Modern Wireless Headset
- Modern USB Headset
- Modern USB-C Headset
- Modern USB-C Speaker
- Audio Dock
- Modern Webcam
Compared to products directly sold by Microsoft in the past few years, the only notable difference of the new peripheral line seems to be Incase's leaf-shaped logo printed on the plastic frame. The company wants to sell "high-quality" Microsoft accessories to creatives and professional teams, providing a better experience through "good design."