Mice to Get OS X Treatment, Too

When you mulled over switching to OS X, you considered everything from your Mac's memory and processing power to whether your favorite applications would be updated to run in the next-generation operating system. Your mouse was probably the last thing on your mind.

But just like any piece of software looking to take advantage of OS X, the software that supports input devices like mice has to be rewritten to run natively in the new OS. Without OS X-native software, a multibutton mouse will still work -- however, features such as programmable buttons will not.

To that end, Kensington Technology Group announced last week an update to its MouseWorks software that runs natively in OS X. MouseWorks for OS X supports all Kensington USB and ADB mice and trackballs except for one-button mice and older two-button models. "It supports anything newer than six years old," says Kensington Senior Product Manager Ian Lombard.

MouseWorks for OS X does not have the full list of features that the OS 9 version of the software sports. It doesn't support application-specific settings, acceleration settings, or pressing down two buttons at the same time to represent another button -- a feature known as chording. Kensington's goal was to get the MouseWorks update out quickly; it plans to restore missing features in future updates.

"The reason we don't have the bells and whistles is the techniques and tricks we use in OS 8 and 9 aren't available in X," says Software Development Manager Joe Kissell.

Users can download the MouseWorks update at Kensington's Web site. The company will send the update to users who don't have Web access.

The MouseWorks update comes bundled with Kensington's latest trackball -- the $110 Turbo Mouse Pro. The input devices has six programmable Direct Launch buttons that can load Web sites or launch applications, four programmable mouse buttons, an integrated scroll wheel, and a trackball.

"We're the only company to have a mouse driver of any kind for OS X," Kissell says.

That certainly appears to be the case. Other leading Mac input-device makers told Macworld that they haven't released OS X-ready versions of their drivers yet. But each one says that plans to update the software are in the works.

Take Logitech, which makes a host of mice and trackballs for the Mac. "As of right now, we're working on getting software that's compatible with OS X," says Logitech spokesman Nathan Papadopulos. Until then, Logitech's input devices will still work but lack added functionality such as the ability to program buttons and scroll wheel settings. Logitech hasn't announced when it will release updated software, Papadopulos said.

Likewise, Contour Design doesn't have OS X-native support for its ShuttlePro Multimedia Controller. But a Contour spokeswoman said the company planned to have an update ready by June.

MacAlly spokeswoman Cindy Araujo says the company expects to learn more information at this month's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference that will help it develop an OS X-native beta for the software that supports its mice, keyboards, and gaming devices. A MacAlly beta could be available as soon as June, Araujo adds.

Kensington's Turbo Mouse Pro
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