Microsoft intros Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, left end of the space bar can be programmed as a backspace key

Over the summer, Microsoft took a break from showing off Windows 8 hybrids and turned its attention to unleashing a bunch of portable mice and keyboards. Turns out, Redmond wasn't quite done refreshing its accessories collection: the company just announced the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, a full-size desktop model meant to complement all those mobile products announced back in July. Like some of Microsoft's older keyboards, it makes use of the company's ergonomically friendly Comfort Curve layout. In this case, though, there's a split space bar, whose left end can be programmed as a backspace key (Microsoft's rationale is that your fingers are constantly near the space bar anyway). Additionally, there's a padded palm rest, which you can detach if for some reason the extra cushioning isn't doing anything for your wrists. And, being a Microsoft-made keyboard, you'll find Windows hotkeys -- specifically, keys that correspond to new features in Win 8, like the Charm Bar. Speaking of the sort, you can use the keyboard with Windows 7, 8 and Vista, meaning those of you still using XP are out of luck. It will be available "soon," according to Microsoft, at which point it'll sell for $60.

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Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard

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Microsoft Hardware Debuts Windows 8 Keyboard With Split Backspace-Spacebar Key
Designed for productivity and comfort, the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard is the perfect Windows 8 desktop companion.

REDMOND, Wash. - Sept. 19, 2012 - Building on its previously announced lineup of Windows 8 hardware peripherals, Microsoft Corp. today introduced the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard featuring an enlarged split spacebar with optional backspace functionality on the left-hand side of the spacebar. From its thoughtful design and ergonomic shape to the Windows 8-specific hot keys, the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard is the perfect Windows 8 desktop companion for productivity and comfort.

Research and Design
With the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, Microsoft is introducing its first keyboard to feature a split backspace-spacebar key. This design choice is the result of internal research that showed 90 percent of typists use only their right thumb to press the spacebar, leaving a lot of unused real estate on the left side of the bar. Research also showed the backspace key is the third most pressed key on the keyboard - behind the spacebar itself and the letter "e" - but constantly striking backspace breaks a person's typing stride because of its location on the top right-hand corner of the keyboard. In response to these findings, Microsoft made two adjustments to help increase typing efficiency and speed:

- Increased the width of the spacebar to make the bar easier to strike.
- Split the spacebar to make use of the neglected left-hand side as an extra backspace key.

Ergonomics
The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard's advanced ergonomics are the result of many unique design features. In addition to increasing typing efficiency, the keyboard's split spacebar also improves ergonomics by virtually eliminating the awkward "pinky reach" to the standard backspace key, keeping wrists in a comfortable position. The keyboard also sports Microsoft's own Contour Curve design, which features a six-degree bend in the keyboard layout with a dome-shaped arc to help promote a comfortable, neutral wrist position while keeping keys within easy reach. Its removable palm rest can be used

Designed by Microsoft, Optimized for Windows
The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard also includes several keys that give customers quick access to the most commonly used Windows 8 features, including Search, Share, Device and Settings hot keys and an updated Windows key. With its wireless USB connectivity, the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard also reduces the unnecessary clutter of wires.

"With Microsoft's new lineup of Windows 8 peripherals, we designed every piece of hardware to provide the best Windows experience possible on any device," said Brett Kelleran, general manager of Microsoft Hardware. "The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard brings the best of Microsoft to the desktop - advanced ergonomics, improved productivity, great design and features optimized for Windows."

The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard will be available soon at the online Microsoft Store and other participating retailers. Estimated retail price is US$59.95*.

More information about this and other Microsoft Hardware products can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/hardware.