Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick

Microsoft Sidewinder is a range of gaming controllers and peripherals developed for the Personal Computer by Microsoft. The line of peripherals include gamepads, steering wheels and joysticks. Within these, several models of joysticks and gamepads were introduced. Originally, these devices were intended to be compatible with only Microsoft Operating Systems, however they are used with others too such as Mac OS and Linux.

The first Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick to be introduced was the 3D Pro. It is considered to be the product that set the trend for later versions of the joystick. One of the intentions of its release was to create a competitor for other joysticks that were dominating the market at the time. Hence, the 3D Pro joystick incorporated several unique features. It had a total of 8 buttons – four on the stick and four on the base. Other features included a slider-based throttle and an eight-way hat switch. The stick was twistable in such a way that it provided the user with more control options. However, it was not considered a very specialized kind of joystick, but more of a functional one that would work well with a variety of common games. Some of the disadvantages of this Microsoft Sidewinder joystick were poor ergonomic design, software installation (not supported by DOS games) and low reliability of use with newer emerging Operating Systems.

The next type of Sidewinder joystick introduced by Microsoft was the Precision Pro in the mid-90s. The major change made with this model was the correction of all the major ergonomic issues that persisted with the 3D Pro. The geometric-type design was abandoned and a more round shape was adopted. The base and the rectangular base buttons were rounded. The slider-based throttle was replaced by a more ergonomic wheel-based one. The addition of the shift button to this Microsoft Sidewinder joystick enabled twice the number of button combinations than the previous one.

A lot of the hardware compatibility complaints that were received with the 3D Pro model were also resolved with the Precision Pro. This was done by using the refined hybrid system. However, no sooner than the introduction of the Precision Pro, USB technology became widespread on personal computers. This is when USB-compatible Microsoft Sidewinder joysticks were first introduced. Overall, the Precision Pro was much more popular and had higher sales volumes when compared with the 3D Pro.

After the launch and success of the Precision Pro joysticks, Microsoft then ventured into the realm of force feedback joysticks. This was done with the Force Feedback Pro model. The force feedback technology in joysticks is designed to monitor the sense of touch applied by the user and appropriately responding with vibrations or forces to the user. This enhances the sensory experience of gaming, in addition to a good visual experience. This type of Microsoft Sidewinder joystick built upon the existing Precision Pro design and incorporated motors into it to make for the force feedback effects. Due to this it was larger in size and also heavier, with no USB compatibility. In later years, these two models of Microsoft Sidewinder joysticks were further improved upon and introduced as the Precision 2 and its derivative Force Feedback 2.

The last joystick released by Microsoft in its series of gaming peripherals once again drew upon the design of the Precision 2. This was simply named the Sidewinder Joystick, and most of its functionality was the same as that of the Precision 2, barring some cosmetic and feature changes. The eight-way hat switch was altogether removed , the base made somewhat smaller and the throttle was pushed up to the front of the base. Due to waning sales, the Sidewinder line of peripherals was discontinued in 2003. However in 2007, the launch of the Sidewinder mouse saw Microsoft’s re-entry into the world of gaming peripherals.

This Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick Review is Written/Updated on May 10th, 2010 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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