The dedicated keys are located to the right of the spacebar on the new Bluetooth and Ergonomic keyboards available from Oct. 15.
If you’re about to buy a new keyboard, be aware that Microsoft’s latest keyboards come with a couple of extra keys you may, or may not appreciate.
As The Verge reports, Microsoft lists two new keyboards for pre-order on its online store, both of which include a dedicated key for Microsoft Office, and another for emojis. The two keyboards in question are the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard and the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard.
In both cases, the Office key sits to the right of the spacebar and by default loads the Office for Windows 10 app when pressed. However, it can also be used to launch specific Office apps, such as Word or Powerpoint, with the correct key combination. For example, the Office key + X will open Excel. Replace X with W to open Word, and so on.
The Emoji key sits to the right of the Office key and when pressed loads the Windows 10 emoji picker. It can’t be configured to be more specific, but it does seem like an obscure function to turn into a dedicated key. Do we really use emoji that much in 2019?
Both keyboards are up for pre-order and will start shipping on Oct. 15. The Bluetooth Keyboard uses a Bluetooth 4.x/5.0 connection, has a wireless range of up to 33 feet (10 meters), and is compatible with Windows 8.1 and 10. It’s very slim, measuring a mere 4.87-inches top-to-bottom, and relies on two AAA batteries (included) with battery life rated up to three years. It’s priced at $49.99.
The Ergonomic Keyboard is a split keyboard and Microsoft is promising an improved cushion palm rest and a range of shortcut keys including media controls. It’s USB 2.0 wired, so no battery, but that does keep the price down to just $59.99. Compatibility extends to Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, but the Office and Emoji keys won’t work unless you’re running Windows 10.