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The good, bad and ugly history of Microsoft hardware

We look back at some of the memorable products in Microsoft's hardware history

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Microsoft built its identity on software development. Just refer to the name, and pay special attention to the "soft." But throughout its storied history, the company has progressively become much more of a multi-discipline workshop, producing physical gear alongside ethereal software code. And now we have the Surface RT tablet, the perfect springboard to recount some of the most memorable (and forgettable) products in Microsoft's hardware history.


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1998: DSS80 Speakers

The Digital Sound System 80 stands today as the only speaker system ever released by Microsoft. The three-piece ensemble included two satellite speakers and a subwoofer that had a built-in digital amplifier that eliminated the need for a sound card. The system was also revolutionary for using USB to convert digital sound from one's computer to analog in the subwoofer.

Sadly, the DSS80s also had a volume control problem that would set volume to maximum or minimum instantly, countered only by hitting the mute button. Despite the system's decent quality and innovation, Microsoft didn't expand its speaker selection.


  • 1983: Microsoft Mouse
  • 1994: Microsoft Natural Keyboard
  • 1996: IntelliMouse
  • 1996: SideWinder
  • 1996: SideWinder Force Feedback Pro
  • 1998: Microsoft Cordless Phone System
  • 1998: DSS80 Speakers
  • 2001: Xbox
  • 2004: Microsoft Fingerprint Reader
  • 2005: Xbox 360
  • 2006: LifeCam
  • 2006: Zune
  • 2007: Microsoft Surface 1.0
  • 2010: Kinect


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