Unashamed software monopolist Microsoft has unwittingly plunged itself into a bubbling pool of hot gossip, after revealing teaser photos of what looks suspiciously like a multi-touch mouse.
Two photos have been let loose on Microsoft Hardware's Twitter feed, which we've pasted together to make the complete photo (below). Microsoft has even provided a few hints as to what it might be, saying: "Here's a hint for you: 'Don't be so touchy...flat is where it's at.'"
However, the company appears to have kick-started a game of Chinese whispers in the process, with some pundits predicting that Microsoft has a new tablet or phone in the works. The UK's lords and ladies' rag The Daily Telegraph even put it at the top of its latest list of potential "iPad killers."
As such, it's worth pointing out that Microsoft is primarily a software company, and its hardware division is mainly focused on peripherals.
Heck, even Microsoft itself has had to dampen down the expectations of some of the wilder rumours. "Love the excitement about our next product! Just remember, we make keyboards, webcams and mice," said Microsoft's Hardware division a few hours ago.
That's good enough for us. It certainly doesn't look like a webcam or keyboard, so we reckon this is the first glimpse of Microsoft's first multi-touch mouse. This would make sense, given Microsoft recently registered the domain arctouchmouse.com, and has previously demonstrated multi-touch concept mice.
The gadget lovers over at Engadget have also just spotted the Arc Touch Mouse (with the model number RVF-00001) appearing on a reseller's price list. Priced at $69.95 in the US, the mouse will compete directly with Apple's identically-priced Magic Mouse.
However, this may not be the mouse in the teaser photos. As its name suggests, the Arc mouse has a curve in the middle, as does Apple's Magic Mouse, and Microsoft's hints and photos suggest the pictured mouse will be a flat design. Basically, it looks as though Microsoft may have several multi-touch mice in the works, or it's giving the Arc brand an overhaul.
Ultimately, we'll have to wait and see, but we'd be very surprised if these pictures don't turn out to be a multi-touch mouse of some description. Microsoft Hardware says it will release another picture "soon" in order to give us "a better idea of what's in store."