Microsoft has confirmed that the company will discontinue selling PC accessories under the Microsoft brand, narrowing the firm's focus to premium-priced peripherals sold under the Surface brand. The decision marks a major fork in the road for Microsoft-badged keyboards and mice, an era that started in 1983. And while the company isn't going to cease the production of PC accessories entirely, the shift to Surface represents a much smaller scope in products going forward. This change, in turn, calls into question the future of ergonomic peripherals at Microsoft, a traditional niche for the company that has resulted in some of their best-known (and most beloved) PC accessories.

"Going forward, we are focusing on our Windows PC accessories portfolio under the Surface brand," Dan Laycock, senior communications manager at Microsoft, told The Verge. "We will continue to offer a range of Surface branded PC Accessories — including mice, keyboards, pens, docks, adaptive accessories, and more. Existing Microsoft branded PC accessories like mice, keyboards, and webcams will continue to be sold in existing markets at existing sell-in prices while supplies last."

The statement contradicts information published by Nikkei about Microsoft's alleged plans to scale back production of Surface-branded gadgets. 

"We were recently informed by the client [Microsoft] to stop making stand-alone keyboards," an executive at a Microsoft supplier reportedly told Nikkei. "We were told the Surface series will still be one of Microsoft's development focuses, but just not the peripherals anymore."​

Microsoft confirmation about its focus shift towards Surface-branded PC accessories comes several months after the company announced a change in its hardware portfolio, which was a part of some 10,000 job cuts. The PC market is struggling due to macroeconomic challenges and uncertainty among consumers. In fact, Microsoft's own devices revenue, which includes Surface, PC accessories, and HoloLens, declined by 30% year-over-year in its most recent quarter, The Verge notes.

Microsoft-branded gadgets have been rather popular on the market over the past four decades, and while behind suppliers like Logitech, HP, and Dell, they've held their place – especially in the ergonomics market. Still, it has been getting increasingly hard for Microsoft to maintain its market share given the increasing number of players in the PC peripherals segment in general. The lucrative gaming keyboards and mice industry has been dominated by companies like Razer and Logitech for a while and then relatively new entrants like Corsair have not been making life of Microsoft any easier in the past decade with their highly-competitive products.

Surface-branded peripherals are a different segment though. They are not aimed at gamers and are not aimed at general users. Instead, they are designed for consumers willing to pay extra for advanced experience and businesses/enterprises for specific functionality. In fact, even Microsoft's recently released Surface-badged Thunderbolt 4 hub is clearly designed for enterprise uses that need functionality like remote management.

Ultimately, although Microsoft is not exiting the peripherals market entirely, the company's change in plans for the future of their hardware accessories seems to be much more significant than just a branding exercise. While Microsoft-designed mice, keyboards, and other devices will live on, narrowing their focus to premium, Surface-branded parts is a big change for a market that Microsoft has been a part of since almost the dawn of the PC – and likely not one for the better.

Source: The Verge

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  • wr3zzz - Tuesday, May 2, 2023 - link

    I am still using Microsoft Entertainment 7000 wireless keyboard for HTPC launched 15 years ago. It is showing its age as the battery life is only a fraction of what modern wireless can do. I've worn out 1.5 sets and this last one is also near its last legs but no wireless keyboards now or since have matched its ergonomics. It's a shame that Microsoft is forgoing that niche.
  • Scalptrash - Thursday, May 11, 2023 - link

    Good, Microsoft peripherals are junk and Surface are excellent. Hopefully they don't screw it up.

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