Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1A: Nostalgia Hit Me

Do you remember when computer mice had balls? Don’t get me wrong, I mean actual balls—the so-called trackballs. The old-school players should know what I mean. Long before the laser, optical sensors, RGB, and whatever technological advancements, it all started with a ball. It was a ball that sometimes refused to scroll or even got so much dirt that we had to deconstruct the mouse to clean it to work again if we were lucky. Man, I really miss these romantic days. A mousepad was necessary, and there were no marketing campaigns for the best 4XL mousepad of all time. It was just a plain mousepad.

And the best of all? The color-coded PS/2 connection ports were usually purple for the keyboards and green for the mice. Most of the time, we carelessly plug a device and never return to life (usually because of the bent pins). Or we even left a pin as a “present” to the PS/2 port of our motherboards (what? Am I the only one?). The convenient USB devices (before the USB ports “WhateverIWant” drama) ruined all the good things when they took over the market. We should add that initially, there were “hybrid” PS/2-USB-compatible devices, usually with an adapter. Surprisingly, years after the PS/2 ports were obsolete, mainboard vendors still implement them. Backward compatibility is a thing for some reason, I guess.

As you may know, Microsoft was a pioneer of mouse peripherals. Occasionally, it has offered some of the best mice ever on the market. The Intellimouse and Wheel Mouse Optical series of Microsoft mice were some of the best on the market, although some were pretty controversial (incompatibilities, performance, etc.). Recently, I tried to re-organize my stuff (and I mean, I tried to see what I should keep or not with moderate success) and came across a lovely surprise. My Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1A was still there and waited patiently to be rediscovered. Tears appeared in my eyes while nostalgia hit me hard.

The now-yellow WMO 1.1A

This mouse has been working too hard for over a decade and has refused to die. It was retired in 2017 from my laptop by a then-newer mouse, but it still worked flawlessly. So, when I met it again, the first thing I did was… check if it still worked. I cleaned it the best way I could and plugged it into all my devices. Surprisingly, it worked well in all of them, although it refused to work well in some USB 3.x ports (reasonable). It even worked well with its PS/2 adapter! And when I say all my devices, I mean all of them (Windows 7/10/11, Linux, and Apple M1).

The only downside was that the scrolling wheel had “humid degradation,” although it was still working well, I don’t know how long it would keep up without passing by on the other side. So, although I was happy to meet an old friend, it was best to let it retire for both of us. And the best way to honor it for its excellent services was to write a tribute article that might “hit” you, too. Because one way or another, many of you might own an original WMO mouse and reminisce about the good (and the bad) old days. You either love or hate the Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical series. I am one of those who loved them.


I didn’t test it thoroughly, but I spent some time trying to see how it performed according to today’s standards. Having Logitech gaming mice, it was a bit unfair to compare it to them. But all things considered, the -once white -now almost yellow- WMO scored well on all my devices. I didn’t notice any lag or such, OS independently. Gaming performance doesn’t matter because it wasn’t the best gaming mouse, even in its best times. The red-colored laser-like detail was a nice addition, but nothing more than indicating that the device was working. If it was plugged into a USB 3.x port, it just refused to work (1.1), as expected. Sometimes, it might be necessary to replug the device to make it work.

Another view of the WMO 1.1A

Well, it is an old horse; what should I expect more? Long story short, it could stand its ground as an ordinary mouse for browsing, but don’t expect FPS gaming sessions with it. It just wasn’t designed for that. Its main advantage is the asymmetrical design, which makes it suitable for both right- and left-handed users. That was its strong selling point back then, and it could still keep up with this task. Should you expect more of it at the end of the day?

Some Words

The Intellimouse and WMO Microsoft mouse series were initially launched in the late 90’s and early 00’s, respectively. Most of the time, their optical-sensor versions shared the same platform, while Intellimouse offered (usually) rear buttons that focused mainly on gaming. The Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1 and the 1.1A variant were identical; their core difference was that the second was OEM-oriented. If you check my photos of the 1.1A variant I own, you will notice the OEM in the barcode details. The Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1 didn’t have this detail, and both offered a PS/2 adapter. Both were ambidextrously designed, making them quite popular for this reason. They were considered decent, performance-wise, back in the day. The Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1 variants were released in 2003 and officially discontinued in 2013.

The “hybrid” USB-PS/2 combo

You can still find the original ones on sale on eBay, and some copycats have still been released (beware of counterfeits). Microsoft’s IntelliMouse series was “resurrected” in 2017 with mixed reviews and reception. I can’t say if they could keep up with the competition. Microsoft offered an IntelliPoint software solution for its series with extra features and customizations. The Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1 and A variants utilized the MLT04 sensor and had X03/05/06/08/80 flavors. WMO series were quite popular then, but users would either love or hate them. Whatever the situation, one thing is for sure: Nostalgia hit me.

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