Microsoft has just revealed a new set of PC accessories which will be available this fall. They include a new Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse, a colorful, but simpler wireless mouse, and an Xbox One video game controller that comes with a cable allowing you to use it with Windows PCs.

But one of the most interesting accessories is a keyboard. That’s because Microsoft’s new $80 Universal Mobile Keyboard isn’t just designed to work with Windows tablets… it also supports Android and iOS devices.

microsoft universal keyboard_03

The Bluetooth keyboard has a rechargeable battery that runs for up to 6 months between charges. Microsoft says 10 minutes of charging should also give you enough juice to type away for 8 hours.

The keyboard also has a detachable cover. When it’s attached you can use it to cover the keys for protection… or you can flip the cover open and use it as a stand for a tablet. You can also detach the cover and use it as a tablet stand that’s placed further away from the keyboard.

What’s most surprising about this keyboard is that you can pair it with up 3 different devices and toggle between iOS, Android, and iOS modes by flipping a switch.

microsoft universal keyboard_04

There are media buttons at the top of the keyboard, and there’s a home button instead of a Windows key. Tapping it can bring up the Android or iOS home screens or a Windows Start Screen or Start Menu.

The keyboard measures 0.47 inches thick and weighs 12.9 ounces.

Microsoft isn’t the only company that offers a universal Bluetooth keyboard that supports multiple operating systems. But it’s the only model of this type that I’m aware of which is made and sold by the same company that makes one of those operating systems.

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11 replies on “Microsoft’s latest PC accessories include a keyboard for Android, iOS, and Windows tablets”

  1. It is neat that they decided to profit from other operating systems instead of fighting them.

  2. i loved my arc touch mouse (great battery performance, decent usability, nice small design for carrying it around) but i couldn’t use it since there were too less usb-ports on my T100 and i didn’t want to insert this dongle all the time.
    thought about bying this “surface edition” (yes, there was a previous bt-version of it) but deemed it not worth 70€ again (and bought razer orochi).

    if i’d need another new mouse i’d would look how the new arc touch performes. if it’s any similar to the old one, then it’s a good toy to buy.

  3. It is significant that Microsoft acknowledges there are other OSes one might care to use. (I’ll have to try it in my Linux machines…)

  4. I would love to know the thought process behind supporting the competition’s OSes with this keyboard.
    Not that I am complaining…

    1. Pretty simple when you remember MS has already started pushing their software on other platforms… Between cloud services like Office 365, One Drive, etc and basic versions of MS Office, etc on other platforms they are quickly growing an invested interest in supporting other platforms besides just Windows…

      Making it all the more convenient also helps users switch back and forth between their devices, which of course could benefit MS as well by making it easier for users to use their software more often, especially with easy synching between devices…

      Just like Google, which actually makes more money from iOS than Android… The potential is greater the more you spread yourself than sticking to just one platform…

  5. The logitech K480 offers similar functions for half the price and in my opinion, a better design.

    1. Maybe, depends what features you think are important… like the detachable cover that can also be used to prop up the tablet is something the K480 doesn’t have as the K480 only has a groove that you can stick your device in for at best one viewing angle, along with a more strict limit on how large the device can be, and nothing to protect the keyboard when not in use…

      Also, let’s not exaggerate the price difference as the K480 goes for $50 and that’s $10 more than half the price of the $80 MS KB…

      Whether that cover/stand option is worth the difference depends on the buyer…

      Also, there have been no user reviews to compare the typing experience of each… So let’s not jump the gun and assume too much… BT Keyboard typically have their limits… but it looks like they’re finally improving but we need more user reviews before it’s clear which is the better choice…

      That said, you’re probably right that the Logitech may be the better choice but not necessarily for everyone…

      1. From what I can tell, the MS cover also only allows one angle so they’re tied in that respect.

        That said, I personally have the K810 and love the switchability of the device with the Bluetooth 1, 2, and 3 buttons (I get the impression that when actually using multiple devices it’s more convenient and comfortable to switch quickly and frequently with the buttons than an actual switch that seems stiff in the videos). I also love the typing experience with the keys, how thry feel and nice spacing (too many bluetooth keyboards and various wireless ones are cramped, making them unfit for home use) But if I find myself with some extra cash or a good sale I might just buy this one as a travel keyboard.

        1. The K480 also has a switch, it’s just set up as a jog dial that you have to turn around in a set arc with three positions instead of from side to side…

          While, you don’t want the system to too easily switch as otherwise you could accidentally switch it while typing…

          And though you may be right about the angles, there’s no set size limit on the cover, you can have a tablet wider than the keyboard, and the cover can be detached from the keyboard to set the device at a variable distance from the user… never mind the simple fact the cover helps protect the keyboard while traveling…

          Mind, the long term investment of protecting the keyboard from unnecessary wear and tear, along with keeping it clean, etc. is much easier with a cover and helps makes sure the keyboard lasts as long as possible…

          But the typing experience has yet to be determined for the MS KB and that’s the real determining factor as to whether its worth the pricing…

          1. What you say is right. Except that when I was talking about the switch I was talking about the K810, not the 480 (with the K810 you can switch from device 1 to device3 and back again without sliding past 2). Ditto for the typing experience. Logitech has three device switching keyboards I believe and I only have experience with one.

            I would dislike a dial as much as a side-to-side sliding switch. As for the cover, yeah, it’s the reason I actually have some interest in this. My K810 is a home keyboard, not a travel one.

            Now, where Microsoft potentially dropped the ball but could beat the others is in the configurability of the device. Right now it seems to be programmed to support three different OSes which is good as they do have different hotkeys. But not everyone has one of each. I can see some of the less tech savvy who have two or more of one OS thinking that they’ll only be able to use one of those with the keyboard. Now if they had done something like use superscript numbers above the OS logos, to indicate device number OR os, it might (might) have been clearer to some people. Now if there was an app (even if windows only) that let you set which device would be using which OS so that keys were properly optimized it would be great (obviously for advanced users).

          2. Let’s be clear that me and the previous poster were talking about new models optimized for mobile usage…

            The K810 is a older model that’s even higher priced at $99, with illuminated keys…

            While still can be used on the go, there’s no way to prop up a mobile device without getting an additional secondary stand…

            Also, though you may find the buttons more convenient, an actual switch is usually easier to use without needing to always look at it… And the buttons are next to other keys you can accidentally hit, like the esc key…

            So, sure… It’s definitely a nice KB from Logitech but there are things to consider besides that…

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