Microsoft will be releasing its popular curvy keyboard for the Mac later this year. Due sometime by summer, Microsoft will give Mac users a keyboard with a dedicated key that only the Mac understands. But that key won"t have the commonly found apple on it as Microsoft could not get proper authorization for its use. Instead, a clover will doan the key next to the spacebar for those special Apple functions. Also found on the keyboard will a key for ejecting optical discs such as a CD or DVD.
I don't know if I'll buy this or not. On the one hand, I'm excited to see MS support the Mac crowd. On the other hand, I know full well that the MS Natural keyboard works just fine on the Mac. Here I'll explain. Peabody set the wayback machine to 1994.
I graduated college in December 1992. I started my first "real job" in March of 1993 and it wasn't a programming gig. It was 1994 before I got a coding job, doing stuff that as far as I know is still classified. And it was in 1994 that I started noticed an alarming fact. The fourth fingers of both my hands hurt by the early afternoon. I experimented with a lot of things, and while I was trying different things Microsoft introduced the first "Natural Keyboard". I bought one - at the time it cost $99 which was a lot to me, but here I was at the start of my career and already my hands were crapping out on me. I bought my second one within a month - switching both my "main" computer at work and my home PC to the Natural Keyboard. I'll hate on Microsoft for a whole lot of stuff, but I seriously believe their keyboard saved my hands. I still use those two 12 year old keyboards. I'm typing this right now on my third Natural KB, but I bought that only because I wanted a USB keyboard. My last "real"job (when I worked at Crystal Dynamics) I still used one of those personally owned 12 year old MS natural keyboards with a PS/2 to USB adapter on it.
At home the USB version is attached to my KVM switch, which switches my keyboard, mouse and monitor amongst multiple computers. My Windows PC, my Linux box, and my Mac powerbook share three of the four inputs on that switch. (The fourth is unused since I shut down my Linux firewall and just use the Airport Extreme base station for firewall and NAT.) The USB version has some goofy keys, which I actually use - Volume +/- and Mute amongst a bunch of stuff I don't use.
Anyway, the Mac. This keyboard has "Windows" keys, which map to the Apple/Command key with no problem. I just tried the majority of the silly "media keys" across the top of this keyboard and the Mac do't read them. No matter, it does read the Volume and Mute keys and I use SizzlingKeys to do more elaborate iTunes transport control. Yes I lack the custom "eject" button but who uses that? Even when I'm using the Powerbook as a laptop I rarely reach for the eject button as opposed to doing something more GUI oriented. So I'm not sure what this MS keyboard really brings to the party. On the other hand, if you do a lot of typing and your hands hurt . . . what can I say? I really do believe this curved keyboard saved my career. I've never been to a doctor for RSI, I've never worn special wristbraces and I'm certain that had I continued to use straight line QWERTY keyboards I'd be a statistic by now. So if you use a Mac and your hands hurt after a hot keyboard session (URMKHOG), check out the Natural Keyboards. If you want an eject key wait for this version.
Oh and make sure you aren't getting the "Natural Elite" line. The Elite version is slightly more compact and noticably doesn't support the "inverted T" layout of the arrow keys, opting instead for a cross layout. More importantly the layout of Insert/Home/End/Page Up and so forth is wrong. (Actually the shot of the Mac keyboard seems to imply a split difference. The arrow keys are "inverted T" but the other navigation keys are funky, instead of the 3 x 2 array I'd claim is "right".) Anyways I hate the "Elite" version which is what any IT department will give you (it's cheaper than the normal version). But it's your hands and your career. I'd rather have a full size KB than the 4-5 inches of desk space the "Elite" version proffers.