Q&A: Performance + Art from Microsoft



A new Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+ARCK. Click image for high-res version.

REDMOND, Wash., July 8, 2004 — Today marks the debut of a collection of trendsetting new input devices from Microsoft, including a new mouse conceived by Philippe Starck – an interior and industrial designer and architect known worldwide for bringing cutting-edge design to everyday products. Starck’s award-winning work centers around a core philosophy focused on delivering extraordinary design in everyday objects. This vision has changed the way people perceive their juicer, hotel room, toothbrush, chair and even tape dispenser.

Why did Starck decide to apply his celebrated design insight to a computer mouse and how did Microsoft collaborate with this world famous designer? PressPass spoke with Christy Hughes, mouse product manager, to learn more about why technology has gone couture and how Microsoft Hardware is laying a design blueprint for the rest of the industry to follow.



Designer Philippe Starck. Click image for high-res version.

PressPass: Why a designer mouse? What made you decide to create Optical Mouse by S+ARCK?

Hughes: We know that people want products that are as beautiful as they are functional. Because of that great design is no longer reserved only for luxury cars or concert halls, but is evident now in common items and places. We’ve found that people today demand products with exceptional design, as well as performance. In recognition of this trend, Microsoft decided to take its current approach to industry-leading performance and aesthetics to a new level. Our collaboration with Philippe Starck speaks to the expressive Microsoft customer. The mouse is designed to appeal to someone who wants to show their personality through the products they use. This mouse marries form and function – it can be a fun accessory with a purpose.

PressPass: How and why did you choose Starck?

Hughes: We share a design philosophy with Philippe Starck that extraordinary design should be accessible to all. His interest in designing technology products is grounded in his understanding that they are some of the items used most frequently each day. So the collaboration was a perfect fit. From the control tower at the Bordeaux airport and restaurants in Europe and Asia, to watches and armchairs, Starck’s body of work is amazing. We think this mouse will not only appeal to those who have followed his work for years, but also to those who simply love the look of the mouse.

PressPass: How similar does the final product look to Starck’s original design? What, if anything, changed?

Hughes: The final design of the mouse is extremely close to the original. According to Starck, the symmetry of the design was inspired by the two hemispheres of the human brain, with the lighted orange or blue strips signifying life flowing down the center. There were a few, very small modifications made to the mouse to ensure it maintained the integrity of his original design while functioning comfortably even after many hours of use.

PressPass: How were the colors of the glowing stripe chosen?



In 1982 Starck designed the President of France’s private apartments in the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Hughes: We continually conduct research around the world to determine what colors people are drawn to. After reviewing this research with Starck, we chose blue and orange to highlight the modern styling of the Optical Mouse by S+ARCK and give people color options that speaks to their personal preference.

PressPass: What’s next? What other collaborations would you be open to? Any plans for a keyboard design from Philippe Starck?

Hughes: We definitely want to hear from our customers regarding what they want for future products from Microsoft Hardware. However, we don’t have anything else to announce at this time.

PressPass: How does this mouse fit in with the others currently available from Microsoft?



Bill Gates (left), Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, previews Philippe Starck’s design at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle, May 2004. Click image for high-res version.

Hughes: Optical Mouse by S+ARCK adds even more variety to our lineup of mice and keyboards. We feel that people will be drawn to it when looking for a mouse that is unique. We always hear from customers that they want more options and variety to choose from. They want products that reflect their personality and style. We’ve offered a wide variety of colors, graphics and even textures in our current lineup of wireless mice, including Black Leather, Metallic Red and Periwinkle. We’ve also continued to offer special edition products that are available for a limited time. This spring we introduced Wireless Optical Mouse in Groovy and Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer in Immersion and Night Vision. Now we’re continuing this collection with Wireless Optical Mouse in Mood Ring, and Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer in Cobalt Basin and Crimson Fire. As you can see, our team of industrial designers said goodbye to boring beige quite some time ago.

PressPass: What new product designs can we expect to see coming down the line?

Hughes: We’re continually delivering products to enhance the computing experience, regardless of the device used. Right now, we’re hearing people ask for more choices in styles to personalize their desktops – which is why we are expanding our line of mice and keyboards with more colors, textures and graphics than ever before. The more options people have, the greater chance of appealing to a variety of tastes. Our team of industrial designers strives to break the hardware mold, and advance how people think about their mice and keyboard. In the future, whether the way people interact with their computer is driven by mice and keyboards similar to today, or voice commands, motion-sensing or devices unimaginable at this time, we look forward to exploring new ways to advance how people connect with their PC experience.