Five years ago, I picked up a pair of first-generation 3.x MS Intellimouse Explorers. In the business move on Friday, one was crushed.

“No problem,” I cheerily thought. “I’ll just pick up the most recent discontinued Explorer on eBay or in a store locally.” I did locate one, but to my horror, the crisp scroll wheel had been replaced by a mushy thing referred to as the “tilt-wheel.” The tilt-wheel lacked tactile feedback and was notably less precise than the clicky-wheel on my five-year-old rodent. In fact, it lacked precision to an extent that I was actually able to roll the wheel without scrolling the front-most screen window at all; the wheel simply ignored fine input and only responded to gross input. Terrible, and unnecessarily fingerstraining. Without tactile feedback we tense our muscles. The mushy tilt-wheel is a ruination, pure and simple.

Ms Intellimouse Exp4 Big

Further drawing oaths from me is the now apparently industry-standard placement of the left-side dual thumb buttons above the thumb’s resting location. In the 4.0 version of the Explorer that I used, they were actually on a protruding ridge above the thumb groove – another recipe for musclestrain.

The mouse that I have looks like this:


Apparently, the large-size thumb-buttons came under fire for being to easy to hit, and the mouse was revised to look like this:


Several hours of eBay combing, and it’s this latter revision I can locate. I suppose I’ll order one, but I don’t have high hopes for it. The original version is the only mouse I’ve ever had that did not create unbearable musclestrain. I am not a happy person at the moment.

5 thoughts on “Mouse Madness

  1. Trackball.

    I have the Kensington Expert Mouse and find it pleasing. Not sure if it is worth the premium or not.

    Also, I think I need an IOCNM t-shirt. Still possible?

  2. If you’re willing to stray outside of the realm of Microsoft input devices, may I recommend the Logitech Click Optical Mouse? I’ve relied upon Logitech mice for years, preferring their relative simplicity and affordability to the unnecessary features provided by the Intellimouse series. Key features:

    1. No mushy tilt wheel for horizontal scrolling. The Click has a simple scroll wheel with a tactile “click” to it.

    2. No side-mounted buttons. There is instead a small button at the base of the scroll wheel well that can be assigned a secondary function via the provided driver. If you don’t install the driver (in Windows), it simply functions as a back button. Due to its position and tactile resistance, it’s almost impossible to click accidentally.

    3. It tracks as well as any optical mouse I’ve ever used, which is to say, every optical mouse I’ve ever used has suffered from occasional fits and sent the cursor sailing into a corner. Incidentally, the reason I avoided optical mice until Logitech outright discontinued their ball mice.

    4. It’s only $20 at Amazon, and can probably be found for less on eBay.

    Here’s another review from, which I take to mean this mouse works fine on your operating system of choice.

  3. Chris:

    Looking into the IOCNM thing. Took down the CP store ages ago, don;t know if my account remains active or not.


    Jumpy tracking in optical mice is the result of crap getting into the laser-eye area, typically fine strands of dust.

    I also really really want forward and back buttons that rest under the neutral-position hand. I *think* the basic Intellimouse may offer that, placing the buttons on the left and right side.


    You may well prove to be my hero. If you’d like to trade for some of my piles of computer junk, we could surely work something out.

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