Can the Stylus Completely Eliminate the Need for a Mouse?

Everyone over a certain age can remember what life was like before the mouse. When you sat down at your computer, all your work was done with keystrokes. But the mouse added much in the way of productivity.

But that was decades ago, and now another implement is knocking on the door, and it’s threatening the livelihood of the mouse, and that appears to be Microsoft’s very intention. Can the stylus completely eliminate the need for a mouse?

Microsoft picked up a new patent last week for an update to the Surface Pen. It will have a U-shaped touch-sensitive retention clip and will be different than most other styluses. The goal is for it to replace the scroll wheel that is found on a mouse so that you can use it to scroll through pages and zoom in and out. Running your finger along that retention clip will allow you to do these functions.

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“By providing a touch-sensitive retention clip on the stylus, the stylus is able to provide scrolling, zooming, and/or other computing functionality in a manner that is similar to a scroll wheel of a mouse device,” reads the patent. “As such, a user may forgo using a mouse device in favor of the stylus when interacting with a computer.

The current Surface Pen connects to devices running Windows 10 through Bluetooth 4.0, and it uses a AAAA battery. This new patent includes a tail eraser and two barrel buttons. These will emulate the left- and right-click buttons of a mouse.

The real question is if this new stylus could eventually replace the mouse. Clearly that’s what it’s being designed to do, but will it do that just for some people, or will it eventually completely eliminate the need for a mouse?

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The retention clip is towards the eraser end of the proposed surface pen. To use the scrolling function, it’s shown in the artist’s rendition laying down next to the device, not being held in the user’s hand. Only one hand is shown on the stylus, using the retention clip, so it would seem it would have to be laying down.

This seems to be the biggest drawback of this proposed stylus. What makes a stylus a stylus is that you can hold it in your hand as you would a pen. If you have to lay it down, it seems like you may as well be using a mouse.

Sure, it’s nice to be able to eliminate an implement such as the mouse and have the proposed surface pen do the job for both a stylus and a mouse, but the pictures don’t make it look very convenient.

What are your thoughts on this proposed stylus pen? Do you think it could replace your mouse? Do you think it’s in danger of revolutionizing the way we use peripherals in that it could eliminate all mice from the market? Do you find it an interesting idea that needs a few more tweaks to be fully implemented? Or do you think Microsoft is going in the wrong direction with this one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Sinchen.Lin via Wikimedia and Wikimedia. Other images are public domain.

2 comments

  1. “What are your thoughts on this proposed stylus pen?”
    No matter how the marketing weenies spin it, it is a niche product. It only works on touch sensitive screens. I can name three devices that were supposed to kill the mouse. The track ball, the thumb mouse or thumb ball and the touch sensitive screen. The thumb mouse is nowhere to be found. The track ball is surviving. The touch screen hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm. The mouse itself was supposed to eradicate keyboard shortcuts and yet there are quite a number of people who eschew the mouse and use the keyboard for everything.

    “do you think Microsoft is going in the wrong direction with this one?”
    I don’t know if it is the ‘wrong direction’ but I think they are trying to force users to go in a certain direction. Some users might follow but most will look at the stylus, shrug and continue to use the mouse. How has MS fared in all its previous attempts at replacing existing products with their own? Some people adopted them for one reason or another, but, for the most part, they were greeted with a yawn. MS Surface itself was touted as the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread. It has been adopted for some niche activities (NFL) but I don’t see an overabundance of them.

    I have a 21″ monitor and sit at least 36″ away from my monitor. Even with a touch sensitive screen, how am I going to use a stylus? My arms aren’t long enough to reach it. If I get a larger screen, I’ll sit even further.

    Will gamers be able to use the stylus the same way they use a mouse?

    This situation is analogous to that of the mainframe computer. The demise of the mainframe has been foretold at least three times – when the minis hit the market, when the PCs hit the market and when client-server paradigm hit the scene. The mainframe survived all those and came back stronger every time. There are tasks for which only a mainframe can be used, just as there as tasks for which a mouse is essential. Until those tasks are eliminated, neither the mainframe nor the mouse are going anywhere.

  2. I am going to have to agree with you Dragonmouth. It seems that almost every time someone tries to “replace” a certain piece of technology there’s always the speculative article wondering if it will replace the industry’s tried and true standards. Like when they predicted the PC desktop computing market would die off….(they’ve BEEN predicting it for almost a DECADE now! Seems that no matter how much some would wish that to happen?….its not going to. There’s a thriving gaming PC community, and there are those that don’t have the need to be “mobile”…..but do want the ability to accomplish a lot when at home. There’s also the programmers and developers out there who might have a need for both a desktop and a laptop…and finally there’s the media-driven market….for all the photo/video editing people out there. I usually read articles like this and just shrug…….we will know that the mouse is”dead”when the official announcement comes from the major retailers that they no longer will sell it. Until that time?….these articles are nothing more than fluff pieces.

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