Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 4.0

I was in CompUSA playing around with a dual 2.0 Ghz G5 PowerMac connected to a Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer I had never seen before. The mouse had a slightly more sculpted shape than previous Microsoft mice I had owned but even more fascinating was that its Scroll wheel tilted, providing horizontal scrolling. While I had seen that feature on some Wireless Intellimice, I had not seen it on a wired mouse.

The mouse fit well into my hand and had a smooth feel. I liked it, and the possibility of putting a mouse with a tilt wheel on my own PowerMac made me search over at the mouse counter to see if I could find the mouse. I did, and it was retailing for $39.99. Earlier Microsoft Intellimice with a tilt wheel worked only under Windows, but the system requirements said the mouse would work with both Windows and Mac OS X. Since I couldn't find any disclaimers decraying the lack of tilt wheel functionality on my Mac, I decided to take a chance and buy it.

The mouse came with both USB and PS2 connectors, the latter being the standard “slip over the USB plug” type port used commonly on dual-duty USB/PS2 mice. To install the mouse, I simply ran the included Intellipoint 5.0 softwareCD and connected the mouse to a USB port. (In OS X, the software installs the drivers necessary to run the software under OS X and a “Microsoft Mouse” preference pane in System Preferences. In Windows XO, it installes its drivers and the Microsoft Mouse Control Panel in Control Panel.) The OS X preference pane lets me customize cursor speed, set functions for each of the mouse’s five buttons, and allowed me to set the speed for both horizontal and vertical scrolling using the Scroll wheel. The software installed without a hitch under OS 10.2.8 (Jaguar) and 10.3.3 (Panther). You have the same controls and the same flawless installation experience under Windows XP.

The mouse had a really nice feel; it's a middle-weight. Not too light. Not too heavy. As with all Microsoft optical mice, tracking was smooth and accurate. The scroll wheel action was smoother than that in Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 models; the "tick..tick...tick" during I used to experience when rolling the scroll wheel is noticeably absent and not missed. Using the Scroll wheel function of “Automatic Scrolling” (one click and then mmoving the cursor up or down away from the clik point), though, did not produce scrolling as smooth or as fast as with earlier versions of Intellipoint software. Also, the clicking action of the left and right top buttons is a bit harder than that of earlier models and not quite as ergonomically pleasant, but the action is still light enough to not quite be a nuisance. Under OS 10.2, horizontal scrolling using the tilt wheel worked great in Finder, Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, Microsoft Excel v.X, but not at all in Microsoft Word v.X. or PowerPoint v.X. Under Classic (OS 9.2.2), the vertical scrolling function worked fine but the horizontal scrolling didn’t work at all in Microsoft Word 2001 or Adobe PageMaker 7.01. Under Windows XP Home, the situation reversed, i.e., horizontal scrolling worked fine in Microsoft Word 2000 and Excel 2000 but did not work in Adobe Photoshop 7.01 or Illustrator 10.

Overall, I really like this mouse. Its sculpting, feel, and features make it a really good buy. However, its uneven performance when scrolling horizontally and its hard feel when you click it drive me to downgrade it a bit; and I’m going to therefore rate it at 3.5 out of 5 ComputerZone CD’s.

Almost Very Good