WHEN BRITISH COMPANY Warmouse announced last month that is was releasing an 18-button desktop mouse specifically designed to work with Openoffice.org, we sniggered about it for a few minutes, decided it was probably a joke, and consigned it to forever languish in the dustbin of digital detritus that is the Inquirer office floor (the bins filled up many months ago).
Some eroneous reports have suggested that the folks at Sun's Openoffice HQ didn't really want anything to do with the slightly eccentric button freaks at Warmouse, despite it insisting that it had got emails and everything saying that it was okay to use the logo, honest....
But for some reason the OO version of the mouse is no more and, no doubt realising that it'd paid a shedload of money for very expensive tooling, and having lost what it thought was a money spinning-hook on which to hang the multi-buttoned monster, Warmouse had a major rethink, invested in a pot of black paint, and announced to the world that its new 18-button mouse - which really isn't anything like the old Openoffice.org one at all, honest - has been specifically developed for gamers.
Faintly reminiscent of the arse end of an armadillo, the Warmouse Meta - to use its full name - features a new high resolution laser as well as the aforementioned array of 18 buttons, sensibly arranged in two three-by-three grids of nine on either side of a clickable scroll wheel. The model we have seen features an X-Box style joystick that would nestle comfortably under the thumb of right-handed users, though its not clear how those of a sinister disposition - that's lefties to the rest of you - will cope.
Just about everything can be tweaked and programmed using the supplied Meta Modeware software, and the company is even offering to make custom macros that can be imported and exported in XML for any obscure software that has fallen out of the net on request. You can even output your button assignments as a PDF file, which should help you to keep your fingers untangled.
Up to sixteen preset keys or macros can also be assigned to the side mounted joystick, effectivley making this a 34 button mouse.
All of which leads us to ask the question, why didn't it just weld a mouse to the bottom of a keyboard and have done with it?
We're sure that someone will find a use for this surprisingly intriguing monstrosity and it's telling that the list of currently compatible games is headed up by the best selling game of all time, World of Warcraft. Warcrack addicts are bound to be taken in by the possibility of having 18 spells or melée actions attached to their own buttons.
We'll leave the final word to the man who is responsible for releasing this mutant rodent into the wild, lead designer Theo Beale:
"It's real, it's brutal, and it's going to fundamentally change what people expect of their input devices. There are some of the opinion that the Meta is insane, but we believe there are many gamers and power users who want to be able to do more than stroke their mouse with two fingers."
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