Microsoft has announced a new partnership with accessory maker Incase to revive its line of PC peripherals, including several products that were discontinued or never released to the public. The move represents a stunning reversal for the company after it exited the accessory market just last year.
Microsoft Exits Accessories, Then Changes Its Mind
For decades, Microsoft designed and sold its own line of mice, keyboards, and other accessories branded with its logo and tailored for Windows PCs. However, in March 2023 the company abruptly announced it was exiting the market entirely to focus on its core software products.
The decision left many loyal fans disappointed and forced to seek out third-party alternatives. But now, less than a year later, Microsoft has had a change of heart through a newly inked deal with Incase.
Complete Lineup Returning Under Incase Branding
The partnership will see Incase take over design and manufacturing duties for Microsoft’s entire back catalog of PC peripherals. Rather than straight re-releases, the accessories will feature co-branding from both companies.
According to the announcement, the relaunched lineup will include Microsoft favorites like:
Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: An ergonomically-designed wireless keyboard and mouse combo featuring a unique split keyboard layout to reduce wrist strain.
Modern Mobile Mouse: A compact and portable notebook mouse designed for travel.
Arc Mouse: A unique folding mouse that flattens for storage and transportation.
Wedge Mobile Keyboard: An ultra-slim and lightweight Bluetooth keyboard for mobile use with tablets and 2-in-1 laptops.
Incase also confirmed that it will be reviving the infamous Microsoft Fingerprint Mouse, an unreleased prototype mouse that authenticates the user via a built-in fingerprint scanner. The product was developed around 2010 but never made it to market due to technical limitations at the time.
|Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
|Modern Mobile Mouse
|Wedge Mobile Keyboard
“We know Microsoft hardware has a devoted following among Windows users, so we’re thrilled to be bringing back these fan favorites,” said Incase CEO Tim Bajarin. “Expect the same excellent quality and design coming from our Seattle-based product team.”
Incase Targeting 2024 Relaunch
Incase stated that its goal is to re-launch the full portfolio of Microsoft accessories in 2024. The peripherals will be updated with the latest features while retaining much of the original beloved aesthetics.
Pricing is still being finalized, but Incase hinted the products would sell for around the same cost as comparable items from Logitech and Razer.
To staff its revitalized Microsoft accessories division, Incase has been rapidly hiring engineers, designers, and product managers with experience on the original Microsoft hardware teams. The company also revealed that a few key team members would be staying on from Microsoft itself.
Why The Sudden Change of Direction?
Microsoft’s decision to step back from PC accessories seemed final, so what explains this surprise revival?
Industry analysts posit a few potential factors:
Lingering fan demand and feedback convinced Microsoft retracting accessories was premature.
CEO Satya Nadella wants to reposition Microsoft as an integrated ecosystem provider on par with Apple. Robust 1st party hardware plays into this strategy.
With the growth in hybrid work and demand for ergonomic gear, Microsoft sees fresh opportunities in the accessories space.
Regardless of the exact reasons, the Incase deal appears mutually beneficial. Incase gains an instant stable of market-tested products and an enthusiastic customer base while Microsoft regains credibility with fans without bearing the costs of solo manufacturing.
“Microsoft likely realized they were leaving easy money on the table after analyzing the success of their Surface line,” commented tech analyst Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research. “This rights the ship and lets fans get their hands on these classics again.”
What Comes Next?
Looking ahead, analysts agree Incase will prioritize updating the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop first since it caters perfectly to today’s hybrid work trends. The arc mouse and mobile keyboard may follow shortly after given their popularity with mobile users.
If the relaunch proves successful, experts speculate we could eventually see additional peripherals added to the lineup or an expansion into gaming accessories. There are even rumors Incase may build upon cancelled Microsoft prototypes to release entirely new products for the first time.
For now, fans are simply elated these devices are clawing their way back from the grave. After feeling abandoned, Microsoft devotees once again have an exciting stable of 1st party accessories to look forward to as we head further into 2024 and the new era of hybrid work.
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