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MS takes mouse wheel into second dimension

Enables grenade-dodging side-stepping

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Microsoft is planning to add 'tilt-wheel technology' (TWT) to its popular range of computer mice, the company has announced, in a move which is sure to have significant connotations for hardcore PC gamers.

TWT adds another axis of scrolling to the ubiquitous mouse wheel, allowing users to move left and right by tilting the wheel with their finger, as well as up and down in the traditional manner. It won't be a four-way scroll wheel, but in many respects that's better for PC gamers.

Microsoft's official announcement points out the potential business applications (quicker navigation of large spreadsheets and unwieldy web sites), but the tilt could also be put to good use by gamers. In first-person shooter titles, for example, there is always a need for faster inventory or weapon switching, and strafing or binding are other functions that might also benefit from TWT.

Microsoft plans to launch three TWT-equipped mice on 3 September in the US: one corded and two cordless. They will also have a feature that allows users to toggle applications by pressing down on the wheel - a function that rodent rival Logitech introduced a year ago.

However, Logitech senior product manager Lloyd Klarke isn't convinced of TWT's worth.

"It is not to say that horizontal scrolling is good or bad, but the things that customers say they want to do with their mouse are the things we have already implemented," he said last week, going on to claim that emphasis on a scroll wheel's 'click' is far more important - and something that TWT won't be able to accomplish horizontally.

We're guessing that Mr. Klarke doesn't play much Counter-Strike. ®

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