I’ve mentioned The Garage a number of times here on Next and Jay Greene also wrote a story recently about some Garage projects recently for Cnet.
Today it gives me great pleasure to announce a free download resulting from a Garage project. To recap quickly, The Garage is both a physical space in Building 4 at our Redmond HQ, and a company wide program that encourages grass roots invention, tinkering, ideas and incubation of projects. In The Garage,employees get together after hours to build whatever they dream up and the results are often impressive. 99.9% of the Garage projects either ship as part of a Microsoft project or remain internal, but every once in a while there’s a project that doesn’t fit into any existing Microsoft product which will get a lot of request from employees who want to be able to share it with their friends and families. In exceptions like this, the Garage community will rally together to and publish it as a standalone public download.
That's what's happening today with Mouse Without Borders.
Mouse Without Borders is a project I’ve been familiar with for the last 6 months or so and it’s a wonderfully useful tool. In a nutshell, it allows you to reach across your PC's as if they were part of one single desktop. I have two PCs on my desk at work connected to 3 LCD screens and using Mouse Without Borders I can move my mouse between the 3 screens, even though one of them is attached to a different PC from the other two. What’s more, I can move files between the 2 computers simply by dragging them from one desktop to another. In fact you can control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard with no extra hardware needed – it’s all software magic, developed by Truong Do who by day is a developed for Microsoft Dynamics. The software is easy to setup and in addition to enabling drag and drop of files, you can lock or log in to all PCs from one PC, and as a whimsical bonus is it allows you to customize your Windows logo screen with the daily image from Bing or a local collection of pictures :) I regularly use it to have one PC dedicated to social media streams while I work away on my other PC connected to two screens.
The video above both explains and shows Mouse Without Borders far better than I can using words. The project is testament to the power of The Garage which helped Truong develop the user interface and setup the usability tests that have helped the tool become very accessible and easy to use. As well as that, The Garage and its regular Science Fairs inside Microsoft helped expose the project to 9,000 people before it was ready for external release. Now that day has arrived and I’m delighted to announce here on Next at Microsoft that Mouse Without Borders is ready for download.
Download Now [1.1mb]
Can't really call it "Mouse without Borders" since it only works if all the computers are on the same network. It will not connect to computers on different networks. So there are 'borders'.
Have tried several times, but it won't install on my Win7/64-bit machine.
This works phenomenally well.
Unintended (?) improvement to ergonomics as I am not longer reaching over to use my laptop screens.
WIN 7 Laptop on wireless and Win 7 Dual Monitor Desktop on cable.
Need help on this questions: 1) Do I have to leave the other computer(s) on at all times so I can use the main PC with them? and second: Can I wake up my other computer from the main computer?
For those that are having problems installing, make sure you have the Windows Firewall service enabled and running. I noticed these error messages when enabling logging on the install:
ExecFirewallExceptions: Installing firewall exception2 MouseWithoutBorders (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Garage\Mouse without Borders\MouseWithoutBorders.exe)
ExecFirewallExceptions: Error 0x800706d9: failed trying to find existing app
ExecFirewallExceptions: Error 0x800706d9: failed to add/update application exception for name 'MouseWithoutBorders', file 'C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Garage\Mouse without Borders\MouseWithoutBorders.exe'
CustomAction WixExecFirewallExceptionsInstall returned actual error code 1603 (note this may not be 100% accurate if translation happened inside sandbox)
Action ended 12:56:22: InstallFinalize. Return value 3.
I've used and liked Input Director for a long time but it couldn't handle connections on some of my systems with VPN connections. Happily Mouse Without Borders pulled it off. Just had to use IP addresses when setting it up.
Synergy is NOT hard to set up... And as said, it is multi-platform, Linux, Mac, and Windows.
Unless this does the V in KVM, I don't see the point. Now a truly seamless network KVM in software would be really nice to have
This looks fantastic! Is there any chance of an OS X build, or having the protocol documented/opened so others can built compatible versions for other operating systems? (I use Synergy now because I work in a mixed OS X and Windows environment.)
Synergy is better since it's cross platform and has no limitation to the amount of virtual screens you can have -- but it's buggy and doesn't have a drag\drop file transfer (which is very cool) -- The developers of this App should consider working with the Synergy developers to make it less buggy and integrate these new features while at the same time maintaining cross-platform compatibility. The _only_ reason I use synergy is because I can have mac, linux, and windows computers and only one keyboard \ mouse :)
Finally, the long-lost windows feature. Synergy has been getting pretty good. This, however, finally catches up to Mac OSX - Teleport which was very much missed on the PC.
However one critical feature of synergy that is missing is the cross-platform aspect. Very much needed when interacting with a mac/linux/pc triad of death and the 6 monitors of the apocalypse.
I was very happy until I decided to reboot my machine. The application/ service isn't active during a reboot unless you log in first.
Thanks a lot Jake I will try to start Windows Firewall Service.
I refuse to use this product based on the grammatical errors in the article! It looks like a great product and the price is certainly right but in good conscience I'll have to pass. ;)
How well does this perform when copying files between computers?
Before I got a bunch of monitors attached to my main box I used StarDock Multiplicity instead of Synergy for the clipboard integration. Its main limitation was that it stomped over system responsiveness when trying to copy a large file between systems.
I'm surprised this wasn't considered to fit in with an existing Microsoft product. It seems like this kind of functionality would be a perfect addition to Remote Desktop Connection or even just as part of Windows 7's sharing options.