Microsoft splits the space bar with its new Win8 keyboard


— 6:00 AM on September 20, 2012

Geeks may prefer old-school clicky keyboards, but there are plenty of folks out there who feel more comfortable with ergonomic models. Microsoft's latest introduction ought to please the latter crowd. Behold the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, the latest device from Microsoft's hardware division tailored for Windows 8. It's even got the new logo and everything:

The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard has a contoured, arched design with a detachable palm rest and low-profile keys. Microsoft has kept the layout relatively sensible, though purists will probably scoff at the oversized delete key and the scrunched-up F-keys. Those F-keys, incidentally, double as "hot keys" for Windows 8-specific features. Some of them bring up charms from the Windows 8 charms bar, while others map to the new operating system's multitasking and app management shortcuts.

Those aren't the most unusual features, though. This newfangled ergo keyboard is also Microsoft's first to feature a split space bar doubling as an extra backspace key. I'll let the company explain:

Internal research at Microsoft shows that more than 90 percent of people hit the spacebar with their right thumb, leaving the left side virtually untouched. (Go ahead, look at your keyboard – you'll probably notice a shiny spot on the right-hand side where your thumb strikes.) That's a lot of wasted real estate.

At the same time, the backspace key is the third-most used on the keyboard – perhaps a comment on our collective typing skills – trailing only the spacebar itself and the letter ‘e.' These statistics led Microsoft to split the spacebar and add optional backspace functionality into the left-hand side. The result aims to improve both ergonomics and typing efficiency.

Sounds nifty... except for, ya know, those of us who hit the space bar mostly with their left thumb. (Hi!) Good thing Microsoft makes the split mode optional.

The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard carries a $59.95 price tag and will be available from the Microsoft Store "soon." In the meantime, you can check out the Windows Experience Blog for more pictures and details.

   
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