We waited for years for a two-button mouse from Apple and now it's given us a no-button one. "One-button mice are for retards", used to be the rallying cry of PC fanboys across Usenet, but Apple has really thrown its sushi at the critics this time. It's launched a new seamless mouse design that effectively has no mechanical buttons at all.
The new Mighty Mouse has four programmable sensors and a unique 'scroll ball', but there's no mechanical division between left and right buttons whatsoever. Instead, a touch-sensitive mechanism similar to the one used in the iPod's Clickwheel allows you to decide which parts of the mouse you want to assign to different functions.
Although multi-button functionality was a part of the Mac OS even before the launch of OS X -- you just plugged in a PC mouse -- Apple has never sold its own multi-button design. The Mighty Mouse is perhaps one of the company's concessions to the migration of some Windows users to Mac, and the growing popularity of sophisticated Mac graphics software like Final Cut and Maya.
Apple's initial decision to use only single-button mice stems from several usability tests which proved that many first-time users are more productive without the confusion of multi-button mice. Apple also ran studies that indicated developers were more likely to design intuitive user interfaces when the option of using contextual menus was not so easily available.
While the Mighty Mouse functions as a single-button mouse for new users, it offers a range of options for multi-button fiends, including the 360-degree scrolling ball that nestles in the head of the mouse and touch-sensitive, programmable buttons. This is one rodent we can't wait to nuzzle. -CS