Microsoft Trackball Explorer – The World’s Most Comfortable Trackball

And, of course, it’s no longer available. This device is just one of the many items whose demand appears strong regardless of the fact that their manufacturers have inexplicably decided to discontinue making them. A quick search on eBay produces a handful of Trackball Explorers, each fetching at least $100 (often a lot more; recently even several hundred dollars!) That’s pretty good for a device that one could pick up from a local computer retailer, or from the web for $39.95 few years back!

Today the mainstream trackball alternatives include Logitech and Kensington models (plus some more industrial, or “80’s looking” trackballs by ITAC and Evergreen Systems). None of the currently available models come anywhere close to the ergonomy of Microsoft’s Trackball Explorer, and this sentiment is echoed on countless hardware review forums on the web.

Was the demand really so minimal for the trackballs that it wasn’t worth it for Microsoft to continue manufacturing it? Perhaps the sales weren’t as strong as they’re “supposed” to be for this kind of a device—perhaps when compared to the sales figures of mouses. But my guess is there are quite a few people out there who would be more than happy to pay, say, $69.95 for the (perhaps even slighly improved) device rather than scouring the dwindling sources for the trackball, or settle for another manufacturer’s best model that the “late” MS Trackball Explorer beat hands down. Today Microsoft offers just mouses for pointing devices — but a mouse won’t always do. Oftentimes the available desk-space is limited — there is no space to move the mouse around (whereas, of course, a trackball is stationary). And more importantly—especially when using 3D or CAD applications—mouse is less accurate. When you’ve placed the cursor on the exact pixel you want it to be on, with trackball you can then remove your finger from the ball before releasing the button to get a positively accurate placement. With a mouse the action of releasing the depressed button moves the mouse enough so that the cursor is moved a pixel or two before the ‘drop’ action occurs.

I have written Microsoft a few times regarding this issue, and it’s likely few other people have done so, too. There has never been a response, probably because their trackballs are gone, period. If Microsoft is not going to bring it back, it would be a great business idea for someone to revive a truely ergonomic trackball… there would be many users who would be glad to pay, say, the aforementioned $69.95 for a well designed, professional trackball, the “Trackball Explorer 2.0”.


Update 23 September 2008:

To get an update on TBE I contacted Edelman | Seattle yesterday.  The original contact, Kerry Gentes, was no longer with the company and I spoke with Brittany Turner instead.  According to her Microsoft’s stance on the issue has not changed; they are still not listening to what their customers want (she didn’t use those words exactly, but that’s basically what it boils down to).

Microsoft is also not willing to license the device at this time.

This puzzles me.  Microsoft bases their decision not to continue manufacturing and marketing the device on a “strategic decision” to concentrate on mouse devices because the market share trackballs hold is “insignificant”.   I’m sure the sales figures for mouses are greater than for trackballs, but it’s the same situation between any consumer and “pro” product.  Most people who go to buy a computer at Fry’s or Best Buy automatically buy a mouse as the computer comes with one.  In many cases it’s a Microsoft mouse, so naturally Microsoft sells a lot of them.  However, unlike many other devices, there is no viable alternative for the Trackball Explorer, and the “strategic decision” to not sell them makes a significant number of users rather unhappy.  If you go to a computer or office supply store they may carry a Logitech or Kensington model or two whose ergonomics simply have nothing on the TBE.  Microsoft could easily hold that shelf-space instead simply by resuming the manufacture of the already existing product which even has up-to-date drivers (Vista compatible, etc.)

If Microsoft doesn’t feel like investing more R&D funds to the TBE at this point, they could use the exact same design as TBE 1.0.  They might change its colors slightly to match the current product line and slap on a price tag equivalent to that of Kensington Expert Mouse ($99.99, or perhaps a little more competitively at $74.95) and it would sell like hot cakes.  It would still sell fairly strongly even if the price tag was $149.99, just as long as it would be available (recent prices for functional units sold on eBay have fetched $400+).  Surely the sales figures would not reach those of mouses, but then Microsoft also sells many more of the consumer licenses than professional licenses to its operating systems for the same exact reason – most computers sold come readily with “Windows Vista Home” installed.  Yet lower sales figures for the “Pro” versions of the operating system products, for example, don’t result in pulling a product from the market.

Microsoft’s unreachability and inertness regarding this issue is very frustrating.  You’d have to look hard for a product that so many users feel so strongly about (just read the comments in this blog for a small sampling of TBE users who have searched the web, come across this blog, and decided to post!) If Microsoft discontinued a particular mouse, nobody would think twice of it – they’d just pick up a newer (or, perhaps, a competitor’s) model.  Same goes for most anything I can think of – there’re always alternatives.  In most cases a new, improved versions of the older products are made available by the same manufacturer.  Unfortunately the situation with the TBE serves to illustrate the way Microsoft is going: business decisions are made internally without paying too much (or any) attention to the customer feedback.  This, also, is why the agile younger companies like Google are gradually eating away Microsoft’s market share in many areas of business.  When the time comes to make a choice between a Microsoft product that does have competitive alternatives – and most do – users who were shorted by Microsoft previously are more likely to choose a competitor’s product, especially if the competitor appears more responsive to customer feedback.

Microsoft Trackball Explorer

Microsoft Trackball Explorer

624 thoughts on “Microsoft Trackball Explorer – The World’s Most Comfortable Trackball”

  1. By the way, as I later have written on my Ergonomics Recommendations page of this blog, I eventually tracked down the “reason” for why Trackball Explorer was discontinued: Microsoft had decided to »focus on creating comfortable and stylish mouse products instead of trackballs» (or so went the official response from Microsoft’s PR organization). Business focus, in other words, regardless of what the users want. That, of course, is not at all surprising; it’s very typical of Microsoft.

  2. Microsoft Trackball Explorer – Trackball – optical – 5 button(s) – wired – PS/2, USB – retail
    2 customer reviews (2 customer reviews)
    2 Reviews
    5 star: 50% (1)
    4 star: 50% (1)
    1 used & new available from $239.99
    $239.99 $239.99 $239.99 $239.99 $239.99

    My house was recently burglarized and trackball stolen. Who can I beg to get Microsoft to reproduce this perfect device ? If not MS then anyone that can make a decent copy please do !

  3. Sorry to hear your house was burglarized. Perhaps they came for the trackball!! 😮

    The contact that I was directed to, and from whom I got the official Microsoft response for why the procuct was discontinued was Kerry Gentes at Edelman | Seattle (Edelman is a PR organization that handles hardware customer contact for Microsoft — one wonders how much of the feedback actually makes it back to Microsoft).

    Here’s the exact response I got to my inquiry: »The number of people who use trackballs have always been a small minority of the overall mouse and keyboard market, and in recent years the sales of the trackball category have been declining significantly. Therefore, Microsoft decided to focus on creating comfortable and stylish mouse products instead of trackballs.»

  4. 100% ACK!!!

    I’m from Germany and I use the Trackball Explorer for more than 3 Years (one at home – one at the office). All the products of Logitech or Kensington aren’t as good as the MS Trackball (ergonomics, size, non-wireless,handling,…)

    I’m waiting (like you) for the “perfect” Trackball.

    Frank

    PS: Sorry for my English – I’m out of practise.

  5. This makes me so sad.
    I’m currently using my second Trackball Explorer. I got this one around spring of 2005, the first one having been damaged in a move.
    This one is starting to get a little banged up, and so I set out to get a 3rd. I’m horrified to discover that it was discontinued!

    I appreciate the effort in finding out the “official” reason, which is still bollix!

    I HEARTILY encourage anyone who wants to make a copy to do so!

  6. I was about to place a bid on ebay for a new one but its up to $180.00 with a long list of buyers and 15 hours left to go this is ridiculous. I cant wait to see how high it gets. I have 2 of them. I bought the second one last year off of ebay when I noticed they weren’t on the shelf at retail stores anymore. I feel lucky. But I’ve had to scavenge parts from my old one to keep the other one operating properly and I fear that the next time I drop it I will lose dominance as a gamer. I work on computers all day and no other device can provide the same swift accuracy and ease of use. Maybe we just have to wait for the patent to expire before it can be copied and remarketed. Trackball Explorer 2.0 Wireless. I would pay twice as much for that.

  7. I too, am an explorer user. My current one is about 4 years old, and has some of the top worn off from frequent use. I’m afraid what will happen when this breaks. I’ve had a Logitech that was okay, but this is the best. I get wrist problems when I use a mouse, so this trackball is a must. I think Microsoft would be pleasantly surprised at the demand if they made this product again. There’s a similar one, but the thumb buttons are smaller and side by side instead of large and top and bottom. I don’t think it will compare. The only thing I wish I could do better with a trackball is draw on Isketch.

  8. There is also no trackball currently on the market that would have a scroll wheel (Kensington has that weird contraption *around* the ball). My kids have Logitech Marble on their computers, but whenever I’m showing something to them, or fixing their computers, my thumb always goes for the scroll wheel which isn’t there. Marble is also nowhere near as comfortable to use as is the “fit-like-a-glove” Trackball Explorer.

  9. I have to say that I’m furious with myself. I was having problems with my Trackball Explorer. My cursor would skip around. I thought maybe a sensor was dirty or something like that. Nothing seemed to work… I took the whole thing apart bit by bit trying to fix it… and eventually ended up destroying the thing trying to figure out what was wrong. Fortunately, I was still able to find a new one online from an obscure vendor who was selling them new at a normal price. Got that one and it had the same problem. Turns out… when I was setting up the Intellipoint software, I accidently selected one of the Microsoft mice instead of the Trackball Explorer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself over that. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the one I had… and eventually ended up destroying tying to fix it. I was lucky enough to get a new one… but I really liked the idea of having that spare.

  10. I have a Microsoft Trackball Explorer which is still working well after 4 years, but I know that in time it will fail. I Just hope someone will come out with another one like it at some point be for that happens, otherwise I’m in for a lot of pain and discomfort, because I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel about eight years ago and the MS trackball explorer has aloud me to continue to do what I love. I’m a helpdesk tech & a gamer so I’m on the computer a lot.

  11. Sorry, everyone. I thought I was the only person in the world that owned this illustrious device.
    I own 4 (1 for work, they never supply them)(1 for home, natch) and two for when these wear or break. The one I have for work has probably logged over 6000 (yes 6000) hours, and still operates like it came out of the box, minus rubbing wear on some edges.

    I am a first-person shooter gamer, and nothing else is faster.
    I also have had 3 hand surgeries, including a big gash for Carpal Tunnel 10 years ago(looking forward to my second one of the right hand soon)

    I was also stunned at the price listed, considering what a joke E-Bay is, but not surprised(E-Bay traders, Lawyers, Car salesmen, same category)
    No I will not sell, at least until I need a new car(HEHE).

    Thanks for the vent, I’ll be visiting Kerry Gentes with a cheap imitation for them to SIT ON!! Permanently!!

  12. On a second note, I condition the ball with a VERY light drop of mineral oil, rub in well, and wipe off most all of the excess with a cloth. I am also a hand-washing compulsive.
    Keep it clean, and it will FLY!

  13. Thanks for that info; it looks promising! If it is indeed a prototype, we might have a new Trackball Explorer version in our hands sometime soon. I see if I can find anything further on this.

  14. Certainly appears there’s a new trackball in the works! I have used the trackball for about 8 years now and I love it. I’d assume most of us use it with a laptop. I do and it works so well. I’d LOVE to have a trackball that is wireless however. No USB connection hub, maybe bluetooth? From what I can tell, one simply does not exist. If true, I’m really surprised there isn’t a great wireless trackball for laptop users. Very strange to me. Any thoughts?

  15. I use it with a laptop, too, but mostly with a desktop (as I mostly use a desktop workstation). My wife has one, and I have yet another one at the office along with a keyboard (to be plugged in to my laptop when I go to the office).

    Our kids have Logitech Marble trackballs on their computers (since no Trackball Explorers have been available at a reasonable cost for some time). Whenever I do maintenance on their systems lack of the scroll wheel and the “back” button for web browser drive me crazy.

    It was interesting to notice that when our two year old started using a computer he was able to use a trackball quite fluently right from the start. At some point I replaced his trackball with a mouse for a while which totally confused him (in fact, he tried to turn it upside down and move the ball in the mouse like in a trackball 🙂 ). He soon got his Logitech Marble back, but I’ll be sure to refit their systems with Trackball Explorer 2.0’s when they come out!

  16. Hello, All

    MEE TOO,I LOVED MY TRACKBALL EXPLORER,however I zapped mine, with about 60,000 thousand volts from my finger, and now my trackball is confused and the right click button does not work, apparently I was pretty charged up and I touched the trackball to move it and got a heck of a shock,after that now its confused, the electric shock traveled through the ball to the metal bearing holders and then to one of the circuit board’s close by and more than likley fried one of the chips,now I cant find one cause microsoft discontinued them, bad move on there part, it was the best design ever…now i am looking on e-bay for replacement parts….WARNING do not touch your trackball if your really charged, it will wipe out your sensitive chips in the unit if the charge is strong enough, I want a trackball explorer 2.0 Please bring back the best design ever made…..

  17. Let’s hope that the “Trackball Explorer 2.0” (see the link few messages up) will find its way to the market soon! The Trackball Explorer 1.0’s are gettin rarer and rarer even on eBay (not to mention the exorbitant prices people as and get for them).

  18. I got excited when looking at those pictures until I got to the bottom. They are showing the size of the ball next to a Sega Dreamcast memory card. Thats telling me this must be a prototype done around 1998-2001. Thats when the Dreamcast popular. Why not show it next to a PS2 memory card?

  19. You may be right.. If you look at Microsoft’s current line of mouses, they look more modern across the board than the Trackball Explorer 2.0.

  20. If you google the trackball 2 link above, it will give you an option to translate the page. It’s very jumbled english, but it seems to me the jist of the LONG article is that it isn’t going to be made. Maybe someone else can read the translated version and see if they come to a different conclusion?

    Translated Link I hope:
    [I removed the link because it went to the Google Translator without content.. it must’ve been session-specific // Ville]

  21. *sigh*

    Unless that Kensington special model is for Japanese market, there’s probably little hope for the Trackball Explorer 2.0 that was featured on an adjacent page on the same Japanese site.

  22. I wonder what kind of funds it would take to actually get a factory to produce a small run of trackball units? Even though this has been discontinued for almost 3 years, could the original manufacturer gear up and produce, say, 10,000 units for a fee? Anyone interested in helping track down the original manufacturer? Has anyone approached Microsoft about buying the patent on the trackball explorer? Just thinking of the possibilities.

  23. I have the same problem as you guys, but I’m looking for the Microsoft Trackball Optical Mouse in a wireless, preferrably Bluetooth, model.

    The AWESOME thing about this model is that it’s larger than other similar models — since my hands are big — and the ball is near the thumb so I can grab the mouse with the all-familiar feel of a regular mouse and continue using my index/middle finger for the left/right button functionality. Additionally, and more importantly, the mouse has super convenient/easy-to-use scroll wheel and Internet navigation buttons. Talk about “ergonomy!” I honestly believe this model beats your model.

    I thought I received what I wanted, less Bluetooth, when I was given the Logitech Cordless Trackman Wheel. But this mouse is smaller and it doesn’t have the critcal Internet navigation buttons although the three buttons are programmable. You may want to consider either of these model since, as of this writing, they appear to be easy to find and are significantly less expensive than what’s being quoted above.

    In closing, should you come across a bluetooth version of the mouse described above, from any manufacturer, I would appreciate a posting. For now, I’m done searching. I will write to both Microsoft and Logitech about these mouses. And while it sounds like Microsoft may def be out of the game, maybe Logitech will pick up our cause. Good luck in your quest for a replacement! Hope this helped.

    Cheers!

  24. Maybe lucky for you guys I just found a site that has trackball mouses which appear like the Microsoft Tracball Explorer. Unfortunately, they don’t have anything that looks like the mouse I’m looking for. Maybe you’ll get something out of it. Check it out: http://www.trackballworld.com/

  25. So yeah I own probably one of the first Microsft trackball’s made
    I’ve repaired it three times dang I think it’s been 7 years !
    my coworker brought in her TBE from home..we were all getting new Logitech’s but the ball is on the side.

    I like the one I have at home but after test driving the TBE I figured Oh I’ll just go online and get the wireless version…WRONG.. which lead me to look all over the web looking for this awesome trackball.Dang Microsoft it’s a love hate relationship.SO anyways I’m gonna offer my co-worker $20 for it hehe don’t hate hopefully she doesn’t know the true value of it I saw it on the web for $200 !! fokking insane ! (yes I know how to spell that) Peace yo !

  26. Some years ago, soon after Trackball Explorer was first discontinued, some surplus site (may have been uBid.com) was dumping few hundred of them. I think the going price was soemthing like $43. Had I known no replacement was coming up, I would’ve bought a dozen (or five).

  27. This sucks. I have tenosynovitis in my thumb (similar to tendonitis), so I recently started looking for a trackball. I have trouble using a standard mouse for an extended period, and I can’t go to a thumb-control trackball. I was appalled how horribly limited the selection is, in stores, for finger-controlled trackball mice, and I couldn’t find anything that I liked. Then I came across one of these trackball explorers in a coworker’s office. I tried it out and it felt perfect! Only, then I find that they’re practically impossible to buy any more. Guess I’ll have to settle for the logitech cordless optical trackman, which is the only thing currently on the market that seems even remotely close.

  28. Microsoft Trackball Explorer is the BEST TRACKBALL Mouse ever in the entire WORLD, trust me, I spoke to an Orthopedic Doctor and we did an enormous study on the functionality of the mouse and the way body parts react to the usage, this mouse will never cause any wrist problems, shoulder issues as compared to other mouses in a span of your life. People will only realize after 15 years what luxory they are missing by not adapting to TRACKBALL Explorer. Lets hope more users promote this product so that its cost might come down. Trust me, I have stocked 5 mouses like this, so that I am never out of this item. Ofcourse I am still using the same mouse since 4 years, never a problem till date. Easy Maintanence…. Great job Microsoft, but thumbs down for discontinuing it.

    Any questions, please email me at dailymails2002@yahoo.com

    FYI:
    http://my.galagzee.com/index.php/2007/07/03/microsoft-trackball-explorer/

    -H

  29. Are the Microsoft people deaf, or they want to play sadistic role here. They are the first to squeeze blood from the weak, and why aren’t they cashing from this item. There are 1000’s of people ready to buy TRACKBALL EXPLORER MOUSE if manufactured, OR if they lost interest in this item some other company should take over and manufactur this, I think even the patents would not apply here, as they discontinued the product. I do not know how to approach these manufacturers, could someone please take an effort to put my words to the decission making people.

    Thanks for your time.

    -H

  30. Im totally with you there my hubbys has finally stopped working now, mine im glad to say is still working hopefully for a while yet he is not a happy bunny, with the trackball he has just bought. his hands are massive, his hand covers the trackball completely hehe. we like so many of you cant understand why they discontinued it unbelievable really so sad im gonna really miss mine when it finally ceases to work “cries” oh well its microsoft what do you expect ^^

  31. I doubt it. That link has been popping up for quite some time. I’ve sent them few emails to inquire about the availability and received no response. It’s probalby an echo from the good ol’ days when Trackball Explorers were still available…

  32. Do any of you have any information on obtaining or making a replacement cord? I noticed it has two black wires going into the harness along with a white, red, and green; the harness in turn has five female connectors.

    Thanks
    iZZY

  33. I think the only way to obtain a replacement cord is to make one. A good cord could be harvested from an old (or even new 🙂 ) USB mouse or trackball, and then do a surgery on the old Trackball Explorer to attach the new cord.

  34. Umm. the site that claims to have 116 TBE in stock.. Well if you read closer, you will see that it is only the ‘Trackball Explorer Mouse CD.’ Just the CD for 59.95. No mouse. er, trackball.

  35. Hey Ville,

    Just out of curiosity, I sent this email to someone at http://www.trackballworld.com. Thought you might like to read it. Enjoy! Paul

    “No company has taken advantage of Microsoft’s decision to stop production on its Trackball Explorer. There is a loyal following of this device, and these people are dying to have a new trackball that performs like the ultra comfortable Trackball Explorer (finger ball, four buttons, and thumb scroll wheel). And although it is a corded USB device, it is amazing to me how very few trackballs are wirelessly designed for laptops! No laptop user wants to have a USB interface. Many of them are corded! Who wants a USB interface hanging off their laptop? What’s the point? And the little ‘USB sticks’ that you offer are still clumsy and get caught on things. The answer to high sales for your company is a Bluetooth trackball that emulates Microsoft’s Trackball Explorer. It is in demand and no one in the world makes it! “The Ball” has the right idea but is totally clumsy. Anyway, thought you might want to hear some feedback from a loyal group of trackball users who are totally unsatisfied with the current products on the market.”

    RESPONSE:

    “I completely agree with you. No idea why they discontinued the product, it was superb. I’ve tried to contact them to see if I could buy the, tooling under license but they have shown absolutely no interest. Probably not enough billions in it for them. I’m going to keep trying. That being said, have you tried our TB520? It is available both USB and wireless (although not blue tooth yet, we’re working on it). Not a trackball explorer by any means but we’ve had quite good feedback on them so far. I’m also going to China to see what else I can find. Regards, Tim – ITI Web Stores/TrackballWorld”

  36. Just to follow up… has anyone tried the mouse he’s suggesting? It obviously doesn’t look like a TBE but I wonder if it works at all.

  37. I was thinking maybe the best way to get Microsoft’s attention may be to send multiple requests to a distributer. (maybe newegg,tigerdirect or another large retailer) Maybe if we plead our case and show the going price to one of them, they might have more pull contacting MS.
    It might be a good idea to pick one company and send e-mails at a similar date.

  38. Sorry for slow approval of the messages… for some reason (may be my new spam filtering) the approval notices never reached me, and I noticed three pending messages moment ago as I was upgrading WordPress to 2.5.

    Anyway, the “TB520” has one fatal flaw: the trackball appears to be intended to be operated by the thumb, which sort of defeats one of the main advantages of a trackball in the first place: the great accuracy of the cursor movement that is achieved by manipulating the trackball with the forefinger and the middlefinger which have much finer motion control than the thumb (hence the saying “all thumbs” 😉 ).

  39. Wow. Amazing to see people still use and love these things.

    I’ve had mine now I think like 6, 7 years? Still runs excellent too! Had to do a couple of small repairs over the years on it.

    Now though the wires inside part of the cord are getting cut; once in a while the thing really acts up trying to pinch it just right. Sadly, this section is like just peeking out of the front end. I’d splice it near there and re-connect to the 4-pin connector, but I’m not totally fluent in that.

    Anyone know by chance where I can get a cable made/for this? Mini 4-pin (similar to a floppy power connector) to USB? That would rule. If not, *maybe* I’ll have to go that route. Yes, Ebay still has them from time to time but I really can’t knock up $40+ for one at the moment unless I absolutely have to. And all that’s wrong with this one sans the wear is the cable bit.

  40. If it’s any consolation… I have used my TBE 4-5 hours a day EVERY day since 2001. The thing is still working perfectly. If it wasnt for wearing the paint off, you’d think it was a new device. All your TBE’s are gonna go on for years 🙂

  41. Does anyone have Gates direct email so we can start filling his inbox with requests to either bring our beloved mouse back or license it to someone….as a matter of global responsibility….as a cure to something?

  42. My Explorer just died and I have been looking around for a replacement. Some of these trackballs don’t have a scroll? I don’t understand…how do you get up and down the page? No one on this forum has really come up with even a mediocre replacement. Closest I have seen is the Logitech Cordless Trackman Wheel. On my way to check it out, but I’m sure I will be disappointed. Donna

  43. That’s because even a mediocre replacement doesn’t exist. I personally have two spares (or two TBE’s in little-used workstations from where I can move them to my workstation if needed). But if (and, unfortunately, when) the last one of them dies, the best option at this point may be Kensington Expert Mouse with it’s “scrolling ring”. 🙁 It sucks, but nothing better exists at this point as far as I know.

  44. If I’d have known that my track ball would be in such high demand and no longer in production, I would have bought two. I hope this thing never dies. I love it.

    It took my wife a while to get used to it and now, she wouldn’t trade it for any standard mouse!

  45. I would’ve bought five.. or ten. Or perhaps few hundred; it would’ve been a good investment with 4x returns over couple of years. 😀

  46. As a completely dedicated trackball explorer user for the last 6 years, I empathize with all of you. Mine finally gave out on me and with the prices being what they are on Ebay, I went ahead and got a logitech track man. I can honestly say that I am not all that disappointed either. Sure, it is not as intuitive as the TBE; the TBE’s button placement made perfect sense while the track man is still a little awkward. All and all, since the TBE is no longer an option, this is a good replacement. As a designer and student, I am on the computer at least 8 hours every day if not 10-16. The track man is comfortable – no cramping or fatigue, and the cordless feature that I was dreading has really surprised me and now I very much like this feature.

    Just an option for those who are out a TBE. Granted, if microsoft or any other company were to reissue the TBE, I would be first in line.

  47. We have sympathizers in the logitech forums. I found posts about MTEs and people asking for 5 button trackmans. I have sent more e-mail to microsoft and plan to call logitech’s offices.

    http://forums.logitech.com/logitech?category.id=mice_trackballs

    I also plan on using Microsoft’s online chat program. Link below.
    Online Chat is available Monday through Friday, 11 A.M. to 8 P.M.
    e-mail and phone number is also listed on this page.

    http://www.microsoft.com/products/info/render.aspx?view=22&type=mnp&content=22/custsrv

    I would like to know, am I the only one asinine enough to continue to pursue this course?

  48. I have created a forum topic at Logitech under “Logitech Forums : Mice/Trackballs : Mice – General Discussion : Logitech Trackb@ll Explor3r”. General Discussion link
    http://forums.logitech.com/logitech/board?board.id=general_mice
    Direct link to Logitech Trackb@ll Explor3r here
    http://forums.logitech.com/logitech/board/message?board.id=general_mice&thread.id=13812

    Please add comments to this group. If I see as many comments on it as here I will call Logitec reps to point it out.

    I may be crazy but I intend to get it reproduced. I won’t get what I want if I just sit and cry (like I’ve been doing).

  49. That’s a good idea! I have a feeling that it may be very difficult if not impossible to change Microsoft’s mind. They’ve made their decision and no matter how much the users complain, they do what they think is the best for the users (as Microsoft usually does). Logitech, on the other hand, is already/still in the business of creating fairly decent trackballs. Perhaps they’re more willing to listen to their customers. My guess is that if they created something that was very similar to TBE – perhaps even improved on it some (it *is* possible 🙂 ), it would be a huge success.

  50. I.M.Impending,

    What about a petition? Perhaps myriad signatures would get Microsoft’s attention. I’d sign it.

  51. C-Plus. Why would the Better Buy Central website list a extended warranty for the Trackball if it was just the cd? I sent them email lets see what I get back. LOVE my trackball explorer

  52. I have been using a very similar track ball for the last 7 years. it is made by macally sometimes labeled as pcally. I believe these were manufactured by a Texas company called Innotek USA. I have tired to get ahold of them but they seem to be out of business (innotek). I have three that I am constantly cleaning and rebuilding. I love the ergonomics of these and the Microsoft Explorer Trackball (I just can’t bring myself to pay $200). My hand and wrist remain very “quite” while working with the these designs. I am a designer and put in pig hours off detail work.

    Here is a link to the Qball. Of course they are out of stock.
    http://www.welovemacs.com/qball.html

  53. I absolutely love the Microsoft Explorer Trackball and when I saw that they were becoming scarce about 2 years ago, I bought 6 of them on eBay. And no, I’m not interested in selling any of them. I love ’em too much.

    Somewhere out there, there’s probably about 200 sitting in a warehouse storage box. Sure wish I could get my hands on them. I’d be rich. 🙂

    For thst that have ahd in the past but they wore out, I’d be interested in hearing about other trackballs folks have switched to because they couldn’t find or afford a replacement.

    Thanks.

  54. Impending – I’m behind you 100%. so, I followed your link to the logitech forum and posted the following:

    I totally agree with Impending. I’ve been using a my MS Trackball Explorer for the last 6 yrs and I can’t imagine using anything else. I’m an AutoCAD user and the buttons and scroll wheel are a must. The whole design of the TBE was simply genius ie: ergodynamic, large finger ball, 4 buttons(changeable), and last but not least a scroll wheel.

    Please somebody reproduce this mouse. I think I’d personally buy a half dozen, for just in case. Plus, at my work there are 10 other drafters who would all buy at least 2 for themselves.

    Bring it BACK

    There can only be the one – let it be TBE
    thanks

  55. I normally do not post anything on forums, but I too am passionate over making sure we see a comprable mouse just like the TBE. It was the first mouse I every purchased and it has been my last. All other mice, I have obtained via some other method. I am joining the coalition to maintain our freedom and to keep our sanity!!! 🙂 I really hope that the TBE’s design and quality ring true in the next mouse produced just like it. I hope further that it is even better than the TBE.

  56. I’ve never actually owned a trackball, but I remember several of my “techie” friends in college using and swearing by them. The few times I was allowed on their computers I remember the scrolling experience to be pleasant.

    I almost bought one of these MS Trackball Explorers when they first hit the market on a whim, but I never pulled the trigger. Only recently has my interest in trackballs been renewed since I have developed wrist cramps from using the standard mouse. If the TBE is as good as everyone here says, I would by one, even just to try it, for up to $100. I can’t bring myself to go over that, but then again, I’m more of an amateur web/graphic designer, not a professional designer or drafter as some of you apparently are.

    For now, I’ll settle with the Logitech Trackman (wireless) and hope it is good. Since I don’t have any prior experience with trackballs, perhaps I won’t be disappointed with it.

  57. I am mad at Microsoft for letting a good product slip through their fingers. I’d be willing even to buy a total Chinese clone of it worked and looked like the TBE. The next best thing is to flood Logitech, Kensington, and Trackball world with emails about how good the TBE design is. SOMEBODY out there must have access to a good patent attorney who could find out how another company can get the patent and copyrights to the TBE. I am on my third one(I bought two online a few yrs ago for $60 and keep wearing out the little beebees holding up the ball but otherwise runs like a champ if I treat it with kid gloves. Maybe I can use beebees from an old logitech and replace them…hmmm, Trackball Explorer restoration, for profit..maybe I’m onto something hehe

  58. I have been using MS trackballs since the first two button one that looked like a medical instrument 🙂 and they are indeed the best control method ever devised up to now.

    I missed the Explorer coming out as I did not see it in the shops and I was still using a thumb-driven Optical model from MS (the black one) which still works fine but I am now on the hunt for one that allows me to move the ball with my fingers instead.

    Bought the Kensington “Expert”, which is a disaster and feels cheap on top of being badly designed (you have to bend the wrist backwards to use it even with that pathetic wristpad, the idiots !!!) and expensive.

    So now I am going to have to put 200$ on the table to get one second hand. Typical crazy megacorp decision from MS to discontinue one of their best products…

  59. my cat chewed my tbe’s cord the other day. So i went to my back up tbe. then today, i said, i better get a new one. went to find it on the web, and omg!!!! i cannot believe it is no longer made. i am heartbroken and on the verge of a panic attack. my gaming will never be the same! sigh. I am on my way to the store to try that logitech wireless trackball. i know it will not be any good tho. i just know it.

    damn u microsoft!

  60. My Trackball Explorer finally bit teh dust about 10 months ago and I can’t find anything that even compares to it. If anyone ever does stumble across 200 of them in a warehouse, I hope I hear about it early.

  61. Found this forum and just have to add my 2-cents….I bought a MS trackball optical when they first came out. I have really, really bad carpel tunnel since I’ve been computing since the stone ages. (Think Tandy TRS 80 with dual 5 1/2″ disk drives!) CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MY TRACKBALL OPTICAL. I just can’t – it’s not an option. Bought one to my boyfriend a few years back and he – as I – will never go back to a regular mouse. When I am on client site, I plug-in my own trackball device and carry the TBE’s driver on my flash drive.

    Anyway a few years back, I found them for $19.00 on Amazon.com and bought 4 of them. One is for use with my laptop which travels with me, the original (which is ancient) is being used with my desktop and one may probably be going to be used for spare parts since it doesn’t track near as well as the others (it’s like the marble lost it’s glide action and kind of sticks). So I have one in the queue still in it’s box. And as another writer above mentioned, it’s not for sale – sorry.

    Anyway, let me get back on track (pun intended)….what I REALLY want to mention is that not only is the trackball optical VERY ergonomic – the FIVE buttons are FABULOUS! Aside from the basic left single-click button, I’ve programed the wheel to automatically open Notepad upon pressing it, one button for “ENTER”, one for “Right-click” and one for “Double-click”. There is no better time save than to have the most important functions at your fingertips with ONE click. I can’t tell you how valuable these programming features are when you are testing or configuring software. Notepad without moving your hand off the mouse is just fabulous. And when I’m doing really heavy testing/configuration, I temporarily program the buttons to do functional keyboard strokes. I save HOURS of time since I can do configuring and documentation in half the time of most folks.

    SO – should anyone get the rights to “clone” this fabulous gadget, PLEASE don’t forget to continue have the programmable functionality of the buttons.

    AND – should anyone see Bill Gates or any of his henchmen – kick them in the shins for me. My professional life is being held hostage because should I not have this device, I’m probably going to have to find another profession.

    Thanks for listening and please let me if someone needs help with this cloning effort. I’d love to test it for them. “-)

  62. Dear Friend!

    Every few months I search the internet for a new TrackBall Explorer – I know that someday in the near future I will be with out my favorite mouse.

    I’m the proud owner of two of these mice and I cannot live with out my fav mice! I’ve been using the Trackball Explorer for so long now that I the thought of the day that I will have to go back to a regular mouse truly scares the living crap out of me!!!

    I too have seen the ebay actions for this mouse – now they are up to $250 for a buy it now new mouse!!!! I also discovered a guy that will refurbish the mouse for about $70 – I’ve bookmarked this guy just in case I need him someday – here is a link for your readers:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270242629808&_trksid=p3907.m32&_trkparms=tab%3DWatching

    In case it doesnt work I can be reached at olgaocon@yahoo.com

    I hope that someone someday makes a mouse just as good until then I will be looking out for a similar or better product – I will also post a request on the logitech site and ALSO EMAIL a high level executive I know at logitech… maybe I can help with getting this product duplicated!!!

  63. Found this blog and have to leave my comments. I too am looking for this god-like trackball. My logitech cordless optical trackman is not nearly as good – it broke just out of the 3 month warranty and the wireless has always been poor. But I struggle on, because like many others I am plagued with muscle problems all throughout my wrist and hands. Using an ordinary mouse is out of the question but there are no more good trackballs on the 2008 market.

    Here we are asking for used, outdated, unmarketable technology that would be expensive to bring back. Everyone can easily realize that using the cheapest technology available at this time, companies can make a trackball that’s ten-times better than what’s on the market right now at a fraction of the cost. The world’s competant trackballs are fading fast and the time is ripe for a company to spring up and make a fortune off this starvation.

  64. I used to have 2 TBE’s, but I sold one with my last computer, and am down to my last. I wish I could have a couple of spares to bring to work with me. It is the only input device that doesn’t hurt my carpal tunnel.

    I would love to believe that Better Buy Central, but if you google them the reviews are from 2004. I think that company is gone, and someone is using it to Phish.

    Damn I want a Trackball explorer clone!

  65. I hesitate to say that I was searching the web to address a PROBLEM with the TBE… when I found this small religion here. First, to avoid persecution, let me say that I own three of them. (One on each desktop in my life.) But let me also state my original query… which is WHY do they STOP working sometimes?? For no apparent reason, performance will deteriorate to nothing. The cursor will be dead in the water, until the ball gets a wipe. Then it is fine again. I would not be asking if this was a significant amount of dirt, but the dramatic techy red circles seem thousands of times more pronounced than the MINISCULE amount of dirt/grease at issue. Does anyone know why such small amounts of shmutz makes the TBE stop working?

  66. I’ve noticed the same. I think it’s caused by a small spec of dirt, or a hair/fiber (such as a pet hair, or a fabric fiber) that has landed on the lens that is almost exactly below the ball. Sometimes something gets stuck on the ball, but when one removes the ball and blows at the lens, the problem tends to go away even without wiping the ball. Though it’s not a terribly common occurrence, this is a kind of thing that TBE 2.0 could improve on.

  67. I’m a die hard fan of Trackballs, I’ve grown quite fond of my
    Microsoft Trackball Optical.. the thumb ball doesn’t hurt my hand like the index/middle finger balls do, given the amount of time I spend gaming. And 5 buttons? Perfect for gaming. More the better.

    I am on my second one now. The ball bearings tend to go flat or something and/or stick causing the ball to have more friction and not move and smooth. And a cover over the laser slot would be handy to keep debris off the lens so you don’t have to blow it out as much.

    I’ve been looking for a replacement, as this one has a short in the cable causing the mouse to turn off sometimes.. sometimes it’s really bad and doesn’t stay on. The only mouse close enough is the TB520. But I do not like the extra 2 button placement. But.. given the short supply for these, I need to be bold and try something else.

    3D Connexion – SpaceNavigator PE caught my eye, but sadly it can ONLY be used in programs that support it.

    Another foolish mistake Microsoft made was to stop making and improving on the Sidewinder Dual-Strike, which was a gamepad AND a mouse in one! It worked beautifuly! The swivel function for aiming needed to be perfectly round, was a bit off… and the darn things broke too easy but I LOVED them. I went through 2 and was unable to find anymore at Bestbuy.

    Seriously, screw the Wii-mote, master the tech they used for the Dual-Strike and add force feedback and you have a killer controller to meet the needs of a FPS console gamer.. which is why I am a PC gamer, gamepads suck for FPS games except for the Dual-Strike.

  68. OK..me too..I have one of these and am tempted to get one more at least from EBay.. this sucks.. why can’t Logitech just emulate the TBE instead of recreating the wheel.. I can’t use a thumb ball in my drafting and this one is the only really good replacemenr for a decent mouse.. I finally gave up and bought a decent mouse to use at work but compared to the accuracy and feel of my TBE it isn’t worth the money I paid for it! I have looked at a lot of track balls.. Logitech makes one that is close..but no scroll wheel I naed to scroll in AutoCAD etc!
    I have seen similar rants over the past couple years in CAD circles..we are getting the shaft and there is really NO reason someone couldn’t manufacture this device in a reasonable facsimile and sell them for even $75 or more considering the price they are going for on Ebay!
    Someone is going to make a fortune ..I just hope to help them and sooner rather than later!

  69. The TBE is by far the best pointing device I have ever owned or used. I have had three, and currently have two that are in service. I repair them and take absolutely paranoid care of them as to extend their lives as long as possible.

    I have been investigating the disappearance of the TBE from the market from basically moment they disappeared. But what I do know is not only did the TBE disappear, but basically all other finger-controlled trackballs with thumb scroll wheels disappeared around the same time.

    This leads me to speculate that the issue might not be so much manufacturers, but some sort of legal dispute with a patent-holder. I have used the Google patent search on a few occasions to try to find the patent that would cover the device, but the closest I came was this:
    http://www.google.com/patents?id=5m8OAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&dq=ergonomic+trackball+finger#PPA1,M1

    And as you can see the assignee is Microsoft.
    This could potentially explain why all of the OTHER manufacturers of similar trackballs stopped, but it wouldn’t explain why Microsoft themselves stopped unless there was some sort of dispute on a component not covered in their patent.

    If people are really serious about it, then it might be worthwhile to start a website dedicated specifically to this, as that might have a bit more pull than a simple web petition.

    Lastly, my biggest issue over the years has been with the right mouse button. Occasionally it will stop working, or only work intermittently, requiring me to disassemble the entire thing, and clean it out. I’ve tested the switch itself many times, and there never seems to be anything wrong with it, just buildup behind the button preventing a good connection. Anyone else experience this?

  70. thank you for such a great place to make discussions on this topic I have been watching and reading comments here for months but haven’t particularly posted, I have however the domain rights to http://www.microsofttrackball.com I intend to release an information site about the mouse soon, and I will no doubt be citing information from users within this blog as well as linking to the petition available and current e bay robbery prices of the mice hehe

    I’ve stood back for to much time without action .. the time is now, and im sure an army can be rallied for this cause

    luke

  71. I’ve owned my TBE for 7 years. Maybe 8. I dunno, I just know that it is a seamless extension of my hand. I love the programmable buttons, the fact that the scroll wheel is thumb operated and the overall size. I don’t even care that it isn’t wireless. I have a new Logitech Trackman that is closer to a TBE than I’ve found before but the scroll wheel is operated with the index finger (and that is weird – shifting my hand just to use the scroll wheel?!?) and the right click, which I had so conveniently located for my thumb to bump, is now on the right side of the ball. I’ve given it three days so far before I return it… but I feel like I’m using someone else’s hand when I’m on my computer!

    I upgraded to Vista in January and I noticed that the TBE driver doesn’t seem to be 100% compatible. I have to go into the mouse software and manually change the pointer speed after rebooting, otherwise the cursor crawls across the screen. I did it though, every single time I rebooted.

    I’ve never had a mouse that is so comfortable, so easy to use and so damn hard to find a replacement for! I figured I’d try the logitech trackball now because if I could use it, I could always go back to my TBE and keep this as a backup.

    Someone here mentioned how much they help with carpal tunnel. I have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel and surgery wsa suggested. I opted out (once I got the details) and I’ve been working to reduce the strain. Interestingly enough, it’s worse in my left hand than my right. My doctor is convinced that using the TBE has prevented the strain on my right. I wish Microsoft could see how good a product they have and how very ergnomic and well designed it is. *sigh* I can’t justify spending $200-$400 or more (and yes, I’ve seen them for more) on a trackball.

    Darn it all.. I want a TBE 2.0 too.. wireless would be great. A new supply would be better!

  72. Mystii,

    I recently had to use one of those Logitechs as well, and it felt like the orientation of the ball was wrong. When I tried to move the pointer laterally across the screen I ended up getting a sort of diagonal motion, didn’t care for it at all.

    Luke,

    Good work, it’s about time.

  73. My main complaint with the Logitech trackballs is that there is no scroll wheel at thumb and/or that the ball is not designed to be controlled by forefinger and middle finger. I find it totally bizarre that someone would design a trackball where the ball is placed under the thumb. Clearly they had never heard the saying “All thumbs”! Thumb is *not* accurate for fine motion control, but it’s perfect for rolling the scroll wheel.

  74. My trackball explorer broke about 2 years ago. I’ve been searching for a replacement ever since. It was BY FAR the most comfortable pointing devise I’ve ever used. If microsoft will not introduce this model back into the market (perhaps as a wireless) they SHOULD sell the design royalties to another company. NO OTHER mouse has come even close, there are no other trackballs that have replaced the ergonomics of this design.

    **in the mean time, I have ripped my trackball explorer apart and soldered the connections and glued the USB plug back together so that I may continue to use this mouse. It now has a permanent place on my desk and never moves more than a few inches. I’m hesitant to do anything else as the wires might break again and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fix it again.

    **I also have a pin out diagram for this mouse saved on my computer – if anyone needs this information, I’ve copied it below. *I also have a crude diagram sketched with draw in MS word so that I can always figure out what the below information means, but for those of you searching for a pin diagram of the trackball explorer, here is that information

    Pin Name Description Cable Color
    1 Vcc +5V DC Red
    2 D- Data – White
    3 D+ Data + Green
    4 Gnd Ground Black
    http://www.starmount.co.uk/s_usbpin.htm

  75. Wow! I had no idea the TBE was “out of print” until I went looking for one at my local Fry’s this past weekend. This is simply my favorite mouse of all time. TBEs seem to literally glide like a seal in water. I never get cramps with these devices, and I can’t use the other trackballs because they could only be made for people with small hands or fantastically dexterous opposable thumbs. I have large hands (former college athlete) and I am a professional geek. Like so many of you, I work long hours at a computer every day and no other device works as well for me as the TBE. Luckily, I have one at home that I just started using again to get back that good feeling (I had sort of forgot about it since it was behind my monitor), but I went looking for a backup in case it fails.

    With no luck in the retail market, I started looking online only to find these ridiculous prices. That’s when I started to investigate what the deal is and now I know because of this blog. I immediately started looking through my equipment graveyard as I used to have TBEs just laying around in spades. The gods must be with me as I found one in my desk drawer, fully intact, looking near brand new, and working like I had just opened it. I remember having at least 2 of them just sitting around so I am hunting for another one. I wish everyone here could be as lucky as I am today to find one just sitting there. I could never actually sell one, let alone at those outrageous prices, especially now given their scarcity. I couldn’t sleep at night if I did. However, all mechanical things do break eventually and I sincerely hope for all of our sakes that a TBE 2.0 debuts with MS or that a similar alternative is made available with another company. Thanks to Ville Walveranta for creating this blog!!!!

  76. Yes, Trackball Explorer is the best mouse in the world, I think Microsoft forgot / ignored the potential of this mouse, they can mint money if properly advertised.

    Can any of us approach the big heads to re-think on this.

    TL

  77. My reasoning is that all the responses to this thread are a good indication that TBE has a loyal following — and that there is a commercially viable user base. There would harly be similar outcry if Microsoft or some other manufacturer discontinued a mouse model. The number of posts on this thread have to be an indication of the fact that there are quite a lot of people who would buy and use TBE as only a small percentage of the TBE users seek info out on the web, find this thread, and decide to post here.

    I would be surprised if Microsoft didn’t have people who scour the web for user comments and opinions about their products. However, contacting their “customer interface”, Edelman | Seattle (a PR company MS has hired to deal with customer relations), probably does little or no good in that respect. I’m wondering if the feedback they receive even reach the “right” people at all. Or if they do, the comments are probably consolidated and “summed up” into an outline for the MS executives. I would find it very interesting to talk to the head of Microsoft’s hardware division to hear the reasoning for why they decided to pull TBE, and whether they’re aware of the prices the remaining units are selling and of the numerous comments about the subject (such as ones posted in this thread) on the web.

  78. I’ve used my TBE since they first came out when I ‘graduated’ to it from an older model trackball by another manufacturer that was strictly a serial port device, but had a large heavy central ball to it. The TBE has outlasted 3 Microsoft Explorer Mice so far on another computer and since I have no space for anything other than a trackball on my keyboard/shelf/workstation, I don’t have a lot of choice here. I almost go into cardiac arrest each time I have to clean out the dust/etc from the ball as I afraid it’s something more serious and won’t be ‘fix’able. I started looking for a good replacement too, but alas… as everyone states… there really *isn’t* one available that has the feel/use of this one. Since I too doubt MicroSoft’s resolve on this, I assume my only choice is to try to get used to a Logitech trackball should this one ever finally ‘go away’. I sure wish I could find another also. ;>( .

  79. Mouse down!

    Last night my TBE fell helplessly to the ground. The horror of watching fall was only surpassed by the sound it made when it hit the hardwood floor. It didn’t sound good. I heard something break loose. I lifted it up off the floor like a wounded child and proceeded to inspect every nook and cranny.

    Then I saw it. My mouse had broken.

    The right click button didn’t click. Oh god! Prepare the surgical table stat!

    To be continued…

  80. Mouse down! 2

    So… I took apart the mouse screw by screw (I still don’t get why they hid screws under the rubber skid mats). I soon discovered that one side of the scroll wheel housing broke off! Bummer, but I was prepared! Flashlight, check. Tweezers, check. Krazy Glue, check. Ok then! I isolated the area, dabbed a little glue on the broken piece, slid it into place, held it for a minute to dry and for it to cure. I also noticed the actual ‘right click’ button was jarred loose as well but I couldn’t tell how it was affixed. So put another small dab of glue on the circuit board and pressed into place. I again waited for the glued pieces to cure and then came the assembly. it isn’t easy getting the scroll wheel back into place but I did it. However, once fully assembled, the scroll wheel was rubbing against the buttons! Oh no! So once again, I took it apart, did a little adjustment on the wheel, re-tightened those screws and viola! It seems to be working just fine now… thankfully! Anyway, crisis averted for now. I just hope it lasts! Hope you all enjoyed. Good luck with yours and be careful not to let it fall! -Paul, Culver City, California

  81. The solution seems simple enough–someone should “steal it and produce it on the sly while pretending to be an m/s loyalist.” Now this would be a method Gates could understand if not appreciate.

  82. My TBE has been going strong for 8 years now. I’m surprised no other company out there has made anything nearly as comfortable as this device. I had tried out 3 different trackball mouse devices before settling on this one. The TBE was the most expensive of the three but was by far the best one too. The only reason why I came across this site was because my TBE mouse got pulled of the table and hit the floor and I wanted to do a web search to find a replacement. Fortunately the thing still works but the left click button isn’t the same. I need to click on the back portion of it to respond. I cant believe what these things are going for on eBay.

  83. I, too, am a TBE loyalist. I was lucky enough to find one on craigslist recently, used for 5 minutes and then put on the shelf, “only” $100. Maybe you guys already know about the eBay user “trackballs_r_us” who will repair/refurbish TBEs for a reasonable fee. He is also a fan of the TBE, and is selflessly keeping the ‘balls of others in working condition. No, it’s not me, but I thought I’d pass it along for all of you who don’t have the luxury of having a backup. Sorry about the gloating, I still can’t believe I paid $75 for my first new one, and complained about the high cost then. If only I had forseen… Take care, all.

  84. How does one e-mail MS to tell them that they should bring this mouse back? I live in fear of any of my 4 TBE’s breaking. Thanks for the tip about the guy who repairs them! I feel badly when my users see my TBE and want one, but the company isn’t willing to spend the $100-$200 on a mouse. Shame on MS for abandoning what I consider to be their best product ever.

  85. I have been thinking the same. Microsoft has arranged it so that customer contact (besides technical support) has been outsourced to a public relations company, Edelman | Seattle. I’m sure the feedback is concentrated as much as possible so that it’s easy and quick for Microsoft management to evaluate. So, basically if 500 or 5000 people call in, for example, about TBE with various comments, my guess is that all of it is tabulated and reduced to a paragraph of text, and perhaps a few figures.

    With TBE the question is does Microsoft realize that they had a stellar, if possibly somewhat niche product with an extremely loyal following and that it could be used in a plethora of specialized applications where mouse just doesn’t cut it. If they do realize this and cut it nevertheless, it’s likely to be very difficult to get them to restart its manufacture. However, it would not be totally unheard of for a company (and especially for Microsoft) to make a “marketing choice” without listening to the customers, and without realizing that they’re actually losing business and—perhaps more importantly—losing people’s goodwill and brand loyalty by discontinuing something people actually like.

  86. Well, I gave it a shot. Since mid-July I’ve been using the Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman. I tried… I readlly, really tried. For the first few weeks I felt like I was using someone elses’s hand when I tried to use the mouse. I couldn’t get use to having to move my finger to scroll – how dumb is that! With the TBE, my thumb naturally moves the scroll wheel. I noticed that my hand would cramp if I was on the computer too long (and that absolutely never happened with the TBE). I tried reassigning buttons so things were close to the TBE to no avail… I constantly found myself using my thumb to tap the right click when it’s actually the back button on the Trackman – drove me nuts!

    So, tonight I gave up. Yeah, Wireless is nice and yes the “new” feel of the Trackman was nice but man, plugging in my Trackball Explorer and using it was like coming home.

    Let’s home it lasts another eight years (or someone wiser than Microsoft will create the TBE 2.0!)

  87. Can I just say, it’s nice to know I’m not insane. I thought I was the only one who was hopelessly devoted to a desktop electronic device.

    I originally moved to a trackball after some tendonitis issues; physical therapist recommended it, as it’s less stressful on the wrist – less movement involved. My old TBE started to give out after 6 years of use (work desktop, I’m an accountant/analyst, lots of electronic spreadsheet/data work, I use all 5 programmable buttons and scroll wheel religiously in my work). I still have it at home, always figured maybe I could repair it, just never got around to it.

    Got a new one for work, I’ve only had it about 2 years, but it’s recently started to have the “stick” issue, and it seems to be getting worse. Cleaning doesn’t seem to be doing much to improve the issue (though it’s just minor cleaning, maybe I need a different approach?).

    Looked online for replacements and like others, found that they’re no longer available (for under $250), so the possibility that it’s already deteriorating is really freaking me out. If I have to switch, I might need a support group. But at least now, I think I may have found one!

    Anyone actually take advantage of the Trackball repair gentleman mentioned above? Is he above-board? I might need him (sooner rather than later)! Or any suggestions about cleaning/repairing would be appreciated. I’m not particularly tech-repair savvy, but my 20-yr-old stepson is, so if it’s tech-speak you have to pass on, he’d probably get the gist if I didn’t.

    So nice to find others who love this little trackball as much as I do; it’s like my third arm!!

    Peace,

    ~A

  88. They’ll take my TrackBall Explorer from me when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers! I have seen a couple NEW ones available on the net lately for OVER $400.00 – While we were all squandering our investments in different markets, who woulda thunk we should have been mouse ranchers LOL. My sister and I have had one each for the past 4 years or so and nothing compares.. I clean mine with a firm small paintbrush, it gets out the dust boogers that make a nice stock for soup. I have been getting a squeek lately, so if that happens to you, just crank your speakers louder. Natch

  89. WOW!!! I had this and didn’t even know it was this expensive im a gamer so i didn’t really use it and was gonna sell it for 15 bucks!! IM KEEPING IT!!!

  90. Sadly, one of my two TBE’s just died tonight and I’m seeing them go for $299 on Amazon… This is just frickin’ insane.

    TBE was the best possible device out there for people with RSI like me. I simply cannot use a regular mouse before, and am tempted to give the logitech a try, but now I’m scared off of that.

    There seem to be a lot of people talking about it here – you would think that Microsoft would pick up on this…

  91. FWIW, I contacted Scott Guthrie at Microsoft – the only guy I know who definitely reads his email and has always responded to me personally in the past. He’s a VP over there in charge of their dev tools, but I gave him a heartfelt email and asked him to pass it onto whoever is in control of Input Devices over there. I only wish that email could show tear stains. 🙂

  92. Oh my God!!! My Trackball Explorer just broke. I figured I’d pick one up from Amazon Marketplace or e-Bay. A new trackball is going for $485 on Amazon! Nothing fits like a Trackball. The Logitech Marble? Buttons on two sides? What does it take to get Microsoft to bring back the Trackball?

  93. I should have bought Best Buy out when I bought my wife’s last Trackball. Didn’t know that they were going to be rare as hen’s teeth.

    I’ve actually managed to snag three of them off Ebay, for $70 or less. Only the first one is in full working order, the second one has a bad right click button, and the third that I just got doesn’t have a working scroll wheel. I’m going to try a repair place this week and see if I can get at least one of them working.

    And yes, I really wish Microsoft would bring back something like it. I’ll buy a case for my and my wife’s use alone. At least I can still get a decent keyboard from them (4000), with no funky arrow key area ‘ness that I see from a lot of the new keyboards (MS isn’t the only one like that).

  94. It has to have been at least five years since I bought my MTE. It’s still working without a hitch. And that’s after having dropped in several times from the keyboard tray to the wood floor. If I’d known how rare these would become I’d have made sure that had never happened even once.

    My trackball has served me very well as a gaming device. (Combine that with a Nostromo n52 keypad for the left hand, and you have a bad-axx setup when you know how to use it.) But now I’m very afraid that the time is coming soon that my MTE is going to wear out.

    Looking for a replacement I bought the Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman. The motion actually feels very good using the ball with the finders. But the buttons just don’t feel right. (The device is virtually unusable for serious gaming.) And the hand cramps after a very short time. I dislike the placement of the scroll wheel. At least this trackball has one and may be alright for browsing the web.

    I have also purchased a Logitech Marble Mouse. Let’s put it this way. A device without a real scroll wheel just isn’t happening for me.

    The other trackballs that use the thumb to move the mouse won’t hack it. It’s why I bought the MTE in the first place years ago!

    So, thanks for having this forum. Let’s say I’ve dished out some dollars now, and I hope that I get a *used* MTE in good working order to keep me in business. (sigh)

    Chris
    -=[Middie]=-

  95. I second this. I have 2 trackball exploers which im holding onto for dear life. I cant use any other device but this trackball. I’m sorry to see no one has decided to provide other /similar ergonomic devices.

  96. I’ve posted an update today (23 September 2008) to the original post on top of this page. Scroll up, way up!

  97. I threw away one with a broken switch not two weeks ago. It was my ‘spare’, which had got too involved with my lounge at home… I wish I’d known how hard it was to get them as I’d have kept it for spare parts.

    I’ve stopped even glancing at my working until too hard until I stop panic’ing about it.

  98. They’re approaching 500.00 for one in the box. Counterfeits should start hitting the market. I’m glad i got a couple of extras a few years back. There’s nothing out there with this layout, at any price

  99. Buying 5 of ’em before the supply dried up might’ve been my all time best computer related purchase ever. Lots of nerve damage in the old body, and the TBE is truly a savior, as it is a “perfect fit”. Although, when they hit $1,000*, I might consider selling one of them, as long as all of the others continue to work properly (got a couple of ’em still in boxes, since that seems to add value). I did have one go bad while they were still available that I dissected w/ my kid; and like the other posters, wish it would’ve been saved for parts. Leave it to M$ to kill of their one and only truly perfect product.

    *just kidding… ain’t ever gonna sell a working TBE at any price.

  100. It looks like the market has lowered on e-bay for these. They’re version 1 (apparently there were 2 versions) but they’re USB and they work. I have a spare now, even if just for parts, and I’m very glad.

    Worth doing a search for, if you’re looking for parts or a spare (or a primary LOL)

  101. Microsoft Trackball Explorer Alternative Knock-off
    ———
    To start, I add my voice to the “bring TBE back” petition, just in case some MS rep comes looking.
    ———
    I was just doing some research and found the
    SANWA SUPPLY MA-TB32UPS & SANWA SUPPLY MA-TBW34S
    on Amazon’s JPN site. (http://www.Amazon.co.jp)

    (TB32UPS is corded, TBW34S is wireless)
    Here are the manufacturer links:
    http://www.sanwa.co.jp/product/syohin.asp?code=MA-TB32UPS
    http://www.sanwa.co.jp/product/syohin.asp?code=MA-TBW34S
    If you want the black version, change the ‘S’ to a ‘B’ on either model. The prices are roughly ï¿¥3,840 to ï¿¥5,240 which is $30-$50 US. It seems that the manufacturer has discontinued the item, but they are still in stock.

    They look like the ball is more on a level plane than the TBE which is tilted about 30 degrees. However! other than that, it seems to be a 5 button center ball TBE. If I can find someplace that will ship this overseas (amazon won’t), then I will try to get one. I have 2 TBEs and one is getting pretty worn, I would love to get one of these guys for parts to create a frankenball (half TBE / half Sanwa).

  102. After purchasing two used MTEs from a company listing them as in very good working order, I’ve gotten one good MTE and one not so good.

    The good one is… well, good. Motion is smooth. All buttons work fine. Perhaps the left mouse button is a little gummy.

    With the not so good MTE, the first thing that happened when I took the device out of the bubble wrap is the ball fell out! Looking at the MTE, yes, two of the plastic tabs holding the ball in are broken. (sigh.) The mouse wheel is gummy. The left mouse button is pretty gummy as well. Motion is good. It’s usable. (Using it right now.) It’s just worn down enough so that I’d never be fooled for long into thinking that I’m using my original MTE. (The good one worked almost exactly the same as my MTE in its best days as far as I can tell.) Oh, and if you shake the not so good MTE, there is/are something rattling inside. (Sounds like plastic.)

    In other words, this things been used pretty hard or quite a while and probably dropped.

    I’m tempted to post where I bought it because the company is still advertising as having MTEs in good condition. Its apparent that either a person testing them has a different opinion about what ‘good condition’ means that probably most people. Or the person doesn’t care that much. And the good stock is drying up. (I see the price has also gone up where I bought it in the past week.)

    Now the quandary. Do I use the not so good one for as long as it lasts (maybe years–maybe far less) to save the good ones. Or do I not annoy myself and use the one in good shape? …I know already that I’m going to use the good ones. Maybe I’ll look up that person I’ve read about on here who’s supposed to be able to fix MTEs up.

    Let’s say buying beware.

    Also, that’s very interesting info about that MTE knockoff. If it works even half decently with a very similar button layout to the MTE, I might consider buying say… 10 of them.

    You know? This not go good MTE still feels better to me than just about any other trackball/mouse. (sigh)

    Chris
    -=[Middie]=-

  103. I’ve been using my Trackball Explorer for about 4 years now and I love it. As other people have already mentioned, trackballs are unsurpassed at precision work in design software and the MTE is the best one; ergonomics, functionality and price (before it was discontinued that is). It is unfortunate, however not surprising, that Microsoft will not listen to their customers. We really could use a version 2 of this excellent device.

    Well for those people who’s trackballs are wearing down and would rather not pay $200+ for a used one, I have found a seller on ebay who offers repair and restore services for your trackballs. He has been there a while now and has a ton of excellent feedback. I think I’m going to give it a try. Here is a link to his store for anyone else interested:

    http://stores.ebay.com/Trackballs-R-Us

  104. I would really recommend Trackballs R Us for any of you who have broken MTE’s. I’ve had 3 in total. When the first broke (think I stepped on it) several years back I just bought another. When the second stopped working a few years later, I paid about $80 for a new one on Amazon. About 4 months ago the 2nd started to crap out and finally died on me 🙁

    I tried a 4 other mice including the Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman and then the Logitech Marble Mouse USB. Neither had the feel or precision of the Microsoft Trackball. I was totally bummed. I used the MTE to play Battlefield 2 in my spare time and was lost without it.

    I tried Larry at TB R Us and had 1 old style MTE and one of the newer style MTE’s repaired. It didn’t take long, less than a week after he received my MTE’s by Fedex. I’m trying them out now and they both work!!!! I think he guarantees the work for 60 days after the repairs. I think I’ll write him a letter requesting that he stay in good health for the next 40-50 years so he can be there to fix my Trackballs if they crap out again 🙂

  105. My MSE has been dropped more times than I care to remember. The ball has fallen on the floor more times than I care to remember. It still works well after 7 years. I didn’t realise they were so expensive second hand.

  106. Wow. I didn’t realize what a gold mine I have. I bought 2 of the Microsoft Trackball Explorers long ago – one for home, one for the office. Then to mix up my hand/wrist movements I got the MS Trackball Optical for the office. Both of my MTEs are working fine still. I was looking for a driver set to allow the MTE to be used on a Mac (at present it only recognizes 3 of the 5 buttons). Guess I’ll hang on to them now, whether I get the mac to recognize them or not. Without a doubt it’s the best trackball ever made.

    After programming in the Mircosoft universe for almost 20 years I’m not at all surprised they killed this product. They are the worst businessmen in the world.

  107. Hi, my name is Eric, and I’ve been a TBE user for 8 years now. The first time I used my TBE, it was just for fun. As time passed, I used it more and more and then I had to have it all the time. It felt so good I couldn’t stop. My wife would find me at 6 in the morning strung out on it. I was irritable and possessive, and nobody could understand why I was so addicted to it. But, I’m sad to say, I used it so much the bearings have worn flat. There’s a hole in my life that can’t be filled, and I am sad. Sure I’ve tried others, but for all the mice in the world, there is still only one. My beloved TBE. My current mouse, which I do love, though not as much as my TBE, is a Razer Copperhead. It’s got 6 buttons + the scrollwheel button. It’s about as ergonomic as a brick but it will do for now.

    We can get through this together, one day at a time.

    Oh and PS. I live a couple hours from Bill. I’ll stop by his house next time I’m in the area and have a talk with him.

  108. If I had known that the TBE was going to disappear 5 years ago, I would have purchased 10 of them so I could have a lifetime supply. Better than that, I could have purchased 1,000 of them and then sold them today at $500.00 each (current price of the one available on amazon.com) to supplement my retirement! Please someone, bring back the TBE!

  109. I’ve been using the same TBE since 2001- three different computers. I bought it at Best Buy for around $35. It’s starting to wear a bit but is still very usable. A couple of days ago, I started looking for a replacement. Of course, I soon discovered that it is not made anymore. I wasn’t too surprised since it is fairly old product; I suppose in computer years, it’s ancient. I said to myself, I’ll just find one on eBay. Yeah, right. The first one I saw was priced over $100 dollars- used. I was thinking, this guy is crazy. Nobody is going to pay that much for a used trackball. After further research, and as you are all fully aware, I soon learned that these things are valuable. I couldn’t believe it. $485 for a new TBE. I’m speechless.

    My first trackball was a simple two button device I used with my Amiga 500 (c. 1988). It had a translucent ball which glowed when moved. I have rarely used a mouse since.

    I’ve been scouring the net for a possible replacement but I just can’t find anything suitable.

    Apparently, thank you Onlocash, the TBE is available here for $64.69:
    http://www.aiyamicro.com/legacy-products/mice_trackball_trackballs.htm

    Has anyone purchased a TBE from there?

  110. Here here!!! Yes!! Bring back the tbe!!!!!!!!! I hate having to pay $150-200 on ebay for one, geesh. For now I’m going to start hording them. roflol I bet they’ll outperform any stock I could buy if Microsoft doesn’t bring it back, geesh.

  111. Those of you that mentioned you have non functioning ones, please put the balls/parts for them on ebay, even the balls get a lot of $, since they get worn on those of us that have 5+ year old ones.

  112. I am so surprised to find so many that, like myself, have recognized the superior ergonomic design of the MS Trackball Explorer. Until recently, that I need to buy another for new job, had no idea they’d been discontinued. A very sad commentary on the value of well designed products in this country.

  113. I tried in vain for months to find a TBE for my husband. He has been eying mine with covetous sighs for a long time now. He finally ordered a Kensington Expert Mouse and we are awaiting its arrival.

    He tried a Logitech Marble Mouse. The design isn’t bad, but why, oh why didn’t they include a scroll wheel? The package instructions say that depressing both small buttons make it scroll, but sheesh, that is SO awkward and it doesn’t always work!

    I’m so happy that I am not the only one who loves the TBE.

  114. I’ve mentioned in an earlier comment that my kids use Marble Mouses (because there were no TBEs available). Whenever I do maintenance on their computers, my thumb always goes for the scroll wheel kind of like stepping in the dark on the non-existent top stair of a staircase.

    The scroll wheel doesn’t appear to be limited by Microsoft patents, either, since many Logitech mouses come with a scroll wheel.

    But this mention of Logitech and Kensington gave me an idea. It might be more fruitful to contact them (than Microsoft), perhaps specifically Logitech since they seem to be more progressive with their designs, and point out this discussion to them. They couldn’t copy TBE 1:1, but I’m sure it would be possible to make a fairly ergonomically designed trackball that would not violate Microsoft patents. Logitech would have the necessary technology and production lines readily available. Perhaps *they* would be interested in increasing their sales.

  115. Just fyi. The TBE 2 model mentioned above, is actually a
    Sanwa Trackball (MA-TB32UPS), with what looks like the ball replaced by a ball from a trackball optical, and then repainted and restickered. I looked for a week to figure this out, and to find a store that was willing to export this model from Japan. I finally convinced an old exporter friend of mine that I’ve used a lot before at Benippon.com to export it, but is somewhat pricey with current yen exchange, around $100, but might be worth it as a tbe off ebay in good shape will be at least that much. Here’s the link, http://benippon.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=19443
    Good luck all!

  116. My order with them is complete, I’ll post back here when I get it and let everyone know what it’s like. I’m somewhat leery because it does have the smaller ball than the tbe 1, but overall it is a 5 button mouse with almost exactly the same button positioning it appears, so I have high hopes.

  117. One thing that I noticed that might have hampered the tbe 1, is that I hate having the left click be the bottom button, and is somewhat uncomfortable. I always switch the left and right click buttons so that the top button is the left click, and the bottom is the right. I wonder how many of us who have loved this trackball found that way to be much more natural and that’s why we like it while others don’t? Maybe if Microsoft made that one simple basic switch it would sell better?

  118. Eric,

    You can replace the bearings with ball bearings from model rc cars. You should be able to find individual bearings at any good hobby shop. You disassemble them and take the ball bearings out, if you have the right ones, they fit exactly. Buy a few difference sizes till you find the exact size, they don’t cost much usually.

  119. Phil, that’s exciting! Be sure to tell us how the Sanwa trackball compares! Many of us are getting desperate!

  120. Well, my husband’s new Kensington Expert Mouse came day before yesterday, and he has been putting it through its paces. The box, when it arrived, was surprisingly heavy. We opened it up and found that the thing is HUGE. The ball is about the size and weight of a pool ball. It has an optical movement, so perhaps it won’t be plagued with the problems that he had with the Kensington TurboBall(for no discernible reason, the TurboBall, no matter how often he cleaned it, would periodically glitch out where the cursor would only go in straight lines- horizontal or vertical- and it drove him nuts, eventually back to a regular rodent). For now, he says he is enjoying it a lot, and the huge ball is very comfortable.

  121. I also like the large ball of the Expert Mouse. If only the device itself was shaped somewhat differently. Without the massive hand (or should I say arm) “bed” that can be installed in the front of Expert Mouse, it leaves the user’s wrist in an awkward angle: hand bent upwards from the wrist. I can feel numbness and tingling in my fingers just from thinking of it…

  122. Yeah, you’re right on there. I was going to try my husband’s Expert Mouse after he left for work, but he keeps his mouse up higher than the keyboard (mine is next to the keyboard, in the keyboard drawer) so it was terribly uncomfortable in my arm and shoulder, more so since I am short. I don’t think I can do a proper evaluation under those circumstances, which is too bad because that big ol’ ball is intriguing!

  123. For those of you who’re forced to move to alternative trackballs after the trusted old TBE finally gives up the ghost, here’s a tip. I was last night at the office working on some server issue, and an adjacent computer had a Kensington Expert Mouse trackball attached to it. I was trying it out while waiting on the server to finish some installation process, and it occurred to me that in combination with ErgoRest® arm support it might be usable (the manufacturer’s website sucks but the product is good). ErgoRest® arm support allows the arm to “float” in front of the trackball (the floating height is totally user-adjustable), and so the fact that Expert Mouse doesn’t provide very ergonomic wrist support on its own is not as significant. I’ve used ErgoRest for over ten years with TBE and a Wacom pad; it greatly reduces the shoulder tension that otherwise might result from long computing sessions.

    ErgoRest® “articulating arm support” is a Finnish product (like myself 🙂 ) and, unlike myself, it can be purchased in the U.S., for example, from ErgoPages or The Ergonomic Store. I recommend the “Long Arm with Standard Pad” model. For more info on ErgoRest and other ergonomy products recommendations visit my ergonomics page.

  124. Ville,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll probably end up going with that, but I’m sorry to say, that is one ugly product.

    Peace

  125. So I got the “stream” trackball. The MA-TB32UPS. Overall, although I’m still in the first hour of using it, it’s not bad.

    Interestingly the ball size that it uses is the same as the logitech “marble mouse” not the trackball optical which is smaller, so the “trackball explorer 2” must be non functional since I tried to replace the ball with one of mine and it as too small to role properly.

    One good point about it is that it does have metal ball bearings like microsoft trackballs, so they should last a lot longer than the teflon or acrylic bearings that logitech uses. The overall feel of the trackball however is that the plastic is much cheaper than the tbe. This wasn’t unexpected as the unit sells for about the equivalent of $35 at most stores from within Japan.

    My initial thought as to the function is that the axis of the unit seems tilted, and the driver doesn’t appear to offer a way to reorientate it like Logitech does. I notice I seem to be overcoming this feeling as I use it more however. Also one thing that I always hated about logitech drivers, the driver doesn’t appear to allow you to remap the main key, although you can overcome this with drivers like x-mouse. I wish the thumb buttons had been extended a little more forward as I get the feeling sometimes that I’m stretching backwards to reach them sometimes.

    I also encountered on my xp machine that the xp driver was only in Japanese, but on vista the updated 7.1 driver was in english. This may be an issue but I have my xp system set to read Japanese, so it may simply be a function of that. If whoever is reading this does get one, you might be aware you may have to be able to read a bit of katakana and basic kanji if you want to reconfigure the buttons at all, or use some kind of translation software.

    Overall, currently I think this is the best currently available trackball second to the tbe out there, even given it’s downfalls. It cost me about $90 with the current exchange rate. The next best alternative is the logitech trackman wireless, around $50-60 if you can find a good deal, but it has numerous problems relative to the tbe. I’d say if you can find a tbe on ebay or elsewhere for around 100-150 it’s still the way to go, but if you can’t this isn’t a bad alternative. GL everyone!

  126. Just won a used good condition tbe for $89 including shipping with a buy it now seller. So they’re still out there for a fairly reasonable price if you get lucky. Super happy, be my third, let the hoarding begin. lol

  127. I veeeeeery carefully dismantled my TBE to see if I could replace the bearings and it seems that they are molded into the plastic. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t see an easy way to take them out. I may have to send it to the guy on eBay to repair it.

  128. Take a very small screwdriver(you may even want to grind a small screwdriver down to a sharp point), exacto knife, or something really flat sharp, and thin and jam it into the plastic on one side of the bearing and pry the bearing out, make sure you don’t press into more than 1/4 of the holding plastic or it will no longer retain the bearing. If you do ruin more than that, you can always super glue the bearing back in.

    If you’ve never done it before, you should be able to just turn the bearing over, and use it that way. When you get the hang of it you should be able to do it without even marring the plastic noticeably. You shouldn’t have to disassemble the unit at all, just pop the ball out and go to work. Make sure you’re working in an area so if you pop the bearing out it doesn’t go flying under a desk and hold the unit at an angle it doesn’t fall into the sensor hole/ unit itself, or so you think you can contain them.

  129. Just fyi. I found a really cool free app for reversing the axis and direction for mice/trackballs. It’s called Sakasa. Not only can you reverse axis, but you can change the degree/tilt of the axis, which should fix the problem with the Stream, but may also make it more comfortable for other trackballs. I haven’t tried the rotate function yet, but I assume that’s what it is, maybe it makes your cursor go around in circles or something though. lol

    http://www.10001downloads.com/software/sakasa-mouse-19143.html

  130. IH8FMS lol It does look like that too doesn’t it? I thought of maybe sculpting it into something now that it functions perfectly. I thought maybe making the arms holding the trackball like claws and making the rest of it like a dragon body or something. heh.

  131. Oh, also fyi, I found “uberoptions” for logitech drivers that allows remapping of main keys as well as a bunch of other stuff. It brings a lot more power to the trackman wireless from the driver end. The buttons are still messed up physically, and the bearings still wear out way to early, the scroll wheel is still in a stupid spot, but it may make that a more viable replacement for some.

    http://www.mstar.net/users/rlowens/

  132. Oh, Phil, my imagination is REALLY going haywire now! And I’m thinking how cool to have one’s very own dragon on the desk…

  133. lol I’m really having a lot of fun with this thing playing games right now. I have the scroll wheel and scroll middle button working and everything, was tough to get everything in the right position. It really rocks. I think I will try to finish it more if I get some spare time. Playing the new call of duty with it now 😉

  134. They certainly are (or were) the best pointing device – i had three originally, one at work (I do CAD) and two at home – one recently broke and one has a button fault, so now i’ve only one left 🙁 … keep hoping to find one at a boot fair cheap or summat. I’ve tried others; none come close – the button layout on the TBE’s is just brilliant once you get used to it – using the thumb to control three of the buttons is what makes a peach IMO cos you dont have to flex or stretch any of your fingers to reach awkwardly placed buttons – its all there ! I’m using a Laser Mouse 6000 right now, and the Back and Forward buttons are really poxily placed – i virtually have to move my hand away so my thumb can hit them. I also own a Cordless Optical Trackman, which i thought might be a good replacement, but the thumbwheel is in the wrong place.

  135. Make sure you put your broken ones on ebay, or there’s a service on ebay offering to fix them as well. He cobbles parts from different broken ones to fix others. Parts for them are going for a lot. Replacement balls go for probably around $50.

  136. I found a shop that sells 1 3/4 inch acrylic spheres. They’re clear, so I’m not sure they’ll work but I ordered a couple to try out. My original tbe that I’ve been using for 10 years, a couple of years ago suffered a fall and it broke the surface of the ball. About 1/4 of an inch of the acrylic cracked off. I repaired it with super glue and super glue accelerator very well so it’s almost imperceptible, but occasionally it feels like there’s a flat spot. It might be a solution for some with similar problems, or those with pitted balls.

    I’ll let everyone know when I get them if they work or not.

  137. I have had my trackball for over 7 years – it’s not the newer version that you all are talking about but its still the comfortable Microsoft trackball mouse. Maybe the fact that they last so long is why Microsoft quit making them. There isn’t a selling market that they can count on, they last so long that they don’t sell enough. Any way you look at it, I would buy another for bigger prices just to have it. Mine is trying to go out and as you all know, they are no where to be found. It’s not fair!!!!

    I would really love to see a new one come out because I can’t use the traditional mouse due to space and I am so used to the trackball that it’s hard to use anything else.

  138. Yup I agree Twila, but I think if they came out with a tbe 2 gamer edition or something like that, or updated with a lot of features like a scroll wheel that tilts for side scrolling, that had variable resolution, and a recordable macro key and such I think it would sell like gangbusters. The ability to change resolutions on the fly just for normal desktop operations is really nice to have, especially with a trackball.
    They’re built really well on average, but they’re not invincible, my 10 year old one looks like it’s been to hell and back and I’ve had to redo the wiring at least twice. For the average person the bearings will wear out and they may not be able to replace them, before i hit on the ball bearing idea mine were on their last legs even after turning them over dozens of times. The ball also eventually becomes worn, if not dinged.
    They need to make another one, or someone needs to produce a good quality trackball. Maybe if I hit the lottery or something I can start a peripheral company or something and bring a version of the sidewinder trackball I made to the market for everyone. lol

  139. I think if there is no pattern on the glass, it will not work as the beam has nothing to “fix” on. For the same reason a clear acrylic ball would likely not work with TBE, for example, because the pattern on TBE’s red ball is used by the beam in the bottom of the ball-pit to detect the movement.

  140. Yeah, I think you’re right, and I’m probably just going to be sol on it. I’ve found though that the ball doesn’t really need a pattern but may help. Any opaque surface will work, there’s nothing special really about the optical sensor, other than the y axis is reversed on the trackball. They’re just standard mouse optical sensors, so just like an optical mouse if it works on like a desk that’s flat opaque then it should work with the trackball. I’ll be really happy if it works, maybe there’s some way I can cloud the ball without making the finish unsmooth or something. I asked the guy if he had any opaque balls but he said no.

  141. WOW-My trackball is worth three times as much as I paid for it! It is the best, and I will use mine until it is worn out. BTW, I’ve had it for five years now, and the only issue it has is dirt on the bearings every once in a while.

  142. What about a metal ball of some kind? Something like a ball bearing? I swear I think I’ve seen something like that before.

    Here’s a really goofy idea for making the clear ball more opaque. I’m tired – it’s 2 in the morning where I am. I’m not usually this goofy. I promise!!

    Try dying it with fabric dye or something like that, or maybe letting it sit in some spaghetti sauce for a while.

    Told you it was goofy!

    Peace,

    Piper

  143. They have really high polished stone spheres that I thought of using first, but then I thought that it might be too heavy and at very least give a different feel than the original trackball. I think if it’s too heavy it’s going to be difficult to do more precise movements, but a metal ball might counteract that with less friction. It might work… I think a metal ball might also be a lot more expensive, the acrylic ones were only a few $ each.

    Yeah I’m not sure what would work to cloud it without marring the surface, but you might be on to something with dye, or maybe even bleach?

    Thanks for your suggestions 😉

  144. OMG, yes. BRING. THIS. BACK.
    There’s nothing even CLOSE to this device, and I say this as someone who does not gush about products, much less computer peripherals.
    Surely there’s some manufacturer in Taiwan, China, Vietnam, etc. that could make these cheaply under license from Micro$oft. But NO.
    This is the kind of thing that shows why Google is eating their lunch.

  145. I wouldn’t have a mouse in the house! I’ve tried quite a few tracker balls over the last fifteen years and the TBE is by far the most comfortable device that I have ever used. Why anyone would use a mouse beats me! Lack of education I suppose – I found out about tracker balls in industry. I’ve been trying to get a second TBE for some time now to replace a Logitec Trackball which doesn’t have a scroll wheel. Recently bought a broken one on ebay hoping to repair it – no red LED’s. Problem is a chip, CP5602AMT by a company called Cypress. They discontinued it in 2004. Is this the real reason MS won’t start making it again?

  146. Phil,

    Hard to tell from the pictures – does that ‘stream’ trackball only have two buttons? Or is it three or four?

    xnappo

  147. I’m adding my 2 cents as well. I’ve own 4 of them. I’ve found that it’s the only mouse that works with my parent’s older, arthritic hands (yet, another reason they should bring it back).

    Let’s keep this blog going and maybe after a few thousand posts Microsoft will finally wake up.

    I must admit, I’m comforted knowing that I’m not the only lunatic out there that loves this “rat” and thought it was the best product ever made.

  148. I owned 2 of them and over the years one broke, I had to buy a KVM switch (yes really) because I wouldn’t touch the other computer because of the mouse… Now I have a small 6 computer network at home and I’d need 5 more TBE…

    PLEASE bring them back (I know, we ‘re pleading for naught… but it would be nice to see TBE on the market again or copied… Hell, I’d pay 150 for a new one…

  149. No go on the clear acrylic balls. 1 3/4 appears to be a bit too small, so they’re actually like a mm measurement, and clear doesn’t work with the sensor, darn, thought I was on to something.

  150. I agree with everything you’ve said about the Track Ball Explorer. I think mine is going out and the few I could find were listed for $195 on E-Bay. It frustrates me that the best product that MS ever is the TBE and they discontinued it.

  151. Long time fan of the trackball explorer, I was sooooo sad back in 05-06 when my trackball died, that’s when I found out that they there discontinued.

    Seriously, this is the best trackball…. I will never buy another Microsoft product because of this (very serious).

  152. I have bought 2 Trackball Explorers on Ebay and paid big bucks. Why would Microsoft discontinue a product that is in such demand? Why would a multi billion dollar corporation like Microsoft introduce a crappy product like Vista? Obviously poor management.

  153. I see them on eBay and at Amazon.com, but…

    bottom line here.

    These days who has that kind of money??

    I sure don’t.

  154. Haha, there’s a trackball explorer on ebay where the guy’s dog ate the ball, so I know I’m not the only one looking for a replacement.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Microsoft-Trackball-Explorer-VG-but-missing-trackball_W0QQitemZ180308880920QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCA_Mice_Trackballs?hash=item180308880920&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318

    also there’s one for $150 on ebay now for those looking that said they’d pay $150 for it.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Microsoft-Trackball-Explorer-1-0-USB-Mouse-Excellent_W0QQitemZ180309085412QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCA_Mice_Trackballs?hash=item180309085412&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318

  155. Wonder how high the bidding on that poor old emasculated TBE will go!! Can’t you see some poor fellow wandering all over the house looking for something to use in its place?

    “Oh, huuunnnn-eee? Are tangerines in season?”

  156. Man, best mouse ever. My wife’s right mouse buttons are sticking now and I went looking for disassembly instructions only to find the mouse discontinued and that they are now retardedly expensive. Why would you discontinue such an amazing product…

    I can think of maybe 3-4 small improvements but it’s close to flawless as it is.

    I’m glad I have two TBE’s. I guess I can bring my TBE home from work for her if I have to and switch back to my TBO.

    *sigh*

  157. I’m having an interesting email session with Microsoft about the tbe. Basically I wrote them a note saying to get their buts in gear and I showed them my sidewinder trackball just for fun, maybe they’ll steal the idea from me I was hoping. lol

    Anyway, the funny part is they offered to buy my trackball back from me. roflol I asked more about it and asked if he knew tbe’s were selling upwards of $200 plus even in bad condition, and he wrote me back saying “Microsoft is committed to proper recycling of its products as part of its overall commitment to protecting the environment.”
    Hahahahahaha!!??

    So they destroy them because their looking out for the environment or something? What the heck? roflol

  158. Or perhaps it’s so that the remaining units will fetch even higher amount of money as rarity sets in at an ever incresing rate! TBEs become collectibles! 😉

    Also be sure to send them a link to this blog thread! I’m often wondering do they really realize how much this device is missed, or do they simply not care. In a recent article Ray Ozzie — though he’s on the software side — says he wants to “push Microsoft back into startup mode”. Startup mode should mean that they actually listen to their customers. Perhaps it’ll have an impact on the future of TBE, too.

  159. I cannot agree with this article more… I own a TBE and use it for endless hours on my laptop, What I want is to have a bluetooth TBE as the cord is a menace whilst using a laptop. I have done much research and have yet to find a comparable bluetooth trackball let alone a regular wireless one… C’mon MS, dont you know that the customer is ALWAYS right?

  160. I’ve been following this blog since March 08. I have a disability which doesn’t give me much movement with my arm, which made using a regular mouse very difficult. The MSE has been a godsend. Mine still works ok as long as I don’t move the cord, sometimes if the cord is wiggled the mouse will freeze, it works fine again after rebooting. Must have a loose connection, but I’m scared to open it up to check for fear of hurting it worse. Could it be something that simple?

    I have a couple of thoughts: The idea of contacting other mouse manufactors is a great one, I wonder if they know there is a market for this type of mouse. Also has anyone tried any of the IBM Labtec Spaceball’s I know these are for CAD work, but they look comfortable.

    Thanks for this blog, it’s good to know I’m not the only person Jonesin’ for this mouse.

  161. Stan,

    That’s a common problem I’ve had with my trackball I’ve been using for like 8 years. I’ve had to cut and recrimp the cord down 2 or 3 times. What happens is that the grounding wire which makes up the inside outer wrapping for the wires eventually gets cut by movement.

    You need to get little yellow transparent wire connectors from Radioshack, strip the cord, cut and strip the wires, then crimp the yellow connectors back on the wire, and bring the cord back into the device. It’s not that difficult of an operation. Make sure you’re careful if you need to remove the connectors from the board though, as you can push the pins off the mainboard if you’re not very careful, which if you’re not a super solderer you’ll basically ruin the trackball.

  162. Oh yeah, make sure you wrap the new crimped wires in electrical tape when you’re done. The new bulge still fits well inside the body of the trackball.

  163. So, today the Microsoft guy I’ve been talking to about the tbe escalated the inquiry, and asked when it’d be ok to call me. I wonder if that means they found a place for spare parts or what. Maybe they’re going to sue me cause I cut up one of their sidewinders. lol

  164. Below is an email I sent to trackballworld.com sales. Maybe if a few other people ask? Surely they could get a better deal than individuals importing…
    ——————-
    Hello,

    As you may be aware, the Microsoft trackball explorer has a fairly devoted following, however MS has not shown any interest in bringing it back. They are currently going for $200-$350 on eBay!

    On one of the many discussion forums regarding this sad fact(http://my.galagzee.com/index.php/2007/07/03/microsoft-trackball-explorer/), someone came across the following products:

    http://www.sanwa.co.jp/product/syohin.asp?code=MA-TB32UPG
    http://www.sanwa.co.jp/product/syohin.asp?code=MA-TBW34B

    These look to be a fairly close replacement for the trackball explorer – at least closer than anything else I have seen.

    Any chance of you looking into importing some? Judging by the blogs – if it is similar to the trackball explorer you could sell quite a few…
    ———–
    xnappo

  165. So I talked with Microsoft today, and sent him links to the petition and this blog, so hopefully they’ll see it and decide to help us out. heh

  166. I’m continuing modifying my sidewinder trackball. Unlike Microsoft, logitech does sell replacement balls for it’s products. I got a replacement ball for a trackman wireless, which is almost the same size as the tbe’s ball. So now it’s getting really close to the feel of the tbe, and a bit better. 😉

    Microsoft also gave me this link for product suggestions which I looked all over their site for and couldn’t find. I suggest everyone flood it with bring back the tbe emails. lol

    http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/outreach/ideas/ideaSubmit.mspx

  167. Oh, thank you for that link! Here’s what I wrote…

    The Microsoft Trackball Explorer was the best mouse EVER, and I am sore that you discontinued it. I mean literally sore- I have epicondylitis and a regular mouse causes me pain. There are many others like me!

  168. Character limit was annoying, here is my abbreviated message:

    Like the original Microsoft Natural Keyboard, the Trackball Explorer 1.0 is a masterpiece. Many others think so to – a quick check of eBay shows them selling used for more than $200.

    11 years after the original Natural keyboard, Microsoft produced another masterpiece in the Natural Ergonomic 4000.

    I hope that Microsoft will see the demand and re-introduce the trackball explorer – perhaps in a 2.0 form with Bluetooth.

    xnappo

  169. Dan,

    You can use ‘translate.google.com’ to translate the web site. That is the vendor’s site, so you can’t order from there, but Phil provided a link to a company in Japan that will export over here – but it is expensive(~$100 after shipping)! Here is that link:
    http://benippon.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=19443

    Unfortunately that is the white one with a cord only (I would like a black one).

    xnappo

  170. Dunno why I didn’t think of Google’s translate tool 😉 thx 🙂

    I guess we hit another wall, on a site where they used to sell them in 2002 it states that :

    OPUTOTORAKKUBORU “stream” MA-TB32UPG
    (Discontinued) optical sensors & USB + PS / 2

    I just bought (to use in the meantime on another computer) a Logitech 904369-0403 Cordless Trackman Trackball Mouse and I’ll see if I like it, but I’m not giving away my hopes to get a TBE 🙂

  171. I Goolged the Sanwa MA-TBW34B from above. Amazon in Japan lists this for about $45 USD. I cannot understand Japanese so can’t purchase. Amazon USA will not sell this. It must be purchased from Amazon.jp. Anyone know someone fluent in Japanese?

    I have glued a door stop to the bottom of my TBE. Sounds funny. I put the high end at the rear under the Microsoft name. This puts my wrist in drooping position from my forearm. Very compfortable. This same tilt is on the most expensive Microsoft keyboards as an option.

  172. I think that only that particular model is discontinued. Some of the other variations, such as the one in the ‘benippon’ link are still made…

    xnappo

  173. I love these trackballs, I had no idea they were discontinued. I’ve used 1 at home and 1 at work for a few years now. I lucked out and just bought one off craigslist for $5. It works great, after a good cleaning.

    Here’s how I clean them:
    – Clean the base and the ball with a disinfectant like Lysol
    – Dip a q-tip in rubbing alcohol and clean the roller bearings, light sensors, and the retainers along the rim.
    – Polish the ball with a platic polish like this one:
    http://www.griotsgarage.com/product/car+care/interior+detailing/plastic+polish%2C+8+ounces.do?search=basic&keyword=plastic+polish

  174. Google “Amazon Japan”, At the Amazon site search “Sanwa MA-TBW34B.” This item is 4018 Yen plus about 3000 shipping. At about $.11 per yen this is aoubt $80. This picture is of a cordless with USB plug.

    Amazon site “Sanwa MA-TB32UPG” not available.

    Amazon site “Sanwa MA-TB32UBS” is 3500 Yen and shows cord. This is same as one at BeNippon for 6300 yen. BeNippon has what appears to be a date of 2002-07.

    Take a chance for $75-80?

    Issue is how to order when one does not know Japanese. Get the nearest Japanese Restaurant to order?

  175. I think that only that particular model is discontinued. Some of the other variations, such as the one in the ‘benippon’ link are still made…

    xnappo

    Then we only need someone who can order them 😉 I’d take one 😛

  176. Can we locate an E-bay seller in Japan who ships to the U.S.? They would not post it but just order and perhaps a small something for themselves? If it works this party could then put them on e-bay.

    The bottom of my TBE has made in China. Can we get any clues from this? I haven’t looked inside for manufacturer’s stamps or ID. THis would require the nearest Chinese Restaurant asisstance. If it is a different dialect at least this would be identified.

  177. Scan the bottom of your TBE. The part of interest is the rectangle at the heel of the hand. This has a split oval with the letters “MIC” in it. Scan at 600 DPI. Blow this scan up. This has five items. Each is numbered. The last one in particular has Chinese writing:China. I suspect the writing in this box identifies the vendor. If this can be tracked down, do they have any leftovers? There is some sort of patent. Who controls this, is it a design patent? Has it expired?

  178. Whether they have leftovers or not, I’m sure TBE could be cloned in China. There are factories that reverse engineer most any product and produce a duplicate. I suspect TBE would not even particularly difficult to reverse engineer and copy. Granted, the resulting “pTBEs” (“pirated TBEs” 😉 ) could not be sold in the U.S. without Microsoft threatening with legal action to guard its strategic decision not to sell the produt, but the pTBEs could be handily shipped from Shangahi or Hong Kong to U.S. and Europe in couple of days… 🙂

  179. John,

    I speak Japanese not fluently, but enough to get by. Amazon.jp has a restriction on most items it sells, and won’t export a majority of them. This includes, electronics, hentai, and porn unfortunately. lol I already tried that route before I asked Benippon to export it.

    Those going that route, be prepared to download Sakasa(axis changing and manipulating free software) to re-orientate the axis, I found it very annoying, and also that this is a relatively cheaper feel than the tbe, as it has a smaller ball, smaller buttons, and the plastic grade isn’t as good. Like I said before though, if you can’t find a tbe, it’s not a bad alternative once sakasa is employed.

  180. I should also note, I would use the Stream on a system before I used the logitech trackman wireless. If you’re buying and your choice is between the stream and the trackman, I’d go with the stream even though it’s slightly higher in price. The button arrangement alone makes it worthwhile that the logitech even with the unbound driver installed just can never measure up to.

    I do think it’s the best current production alternative to the tbe once the axis is adjusted.

  181. It’s interesting, I’ve compared my 3 tbe’s. The relevant info seems to be 1. There’s a big chinese model number 3892A237. Then in the first box of the smaller writing with a “MIC” emblem is E-C001-002227.

    The general product number is x08-70390. Going to do some google searching. heh

    Anyone have one of the one screw variety? Is the info different? Apparently all mine are 2 screw versions, even the one I’ve had for like 8 years, and they all have basically the same numbers. Some are stylistically different, which is pretty interesting, and my original one either didn’t come with a product number/ bar code, or it was rubbed off after so much use.

  182. I don’t understand two screws verses one screw. Are you talking about the bottom screw(s)? I have two screws. There are actually 5 screws. Two visible, two under the toe pad and one under the heel pad. These pads are what make contact with the surface the TBE is resting on. I took my TBE apart. The inside has Microsoft markings inside. The only markings are those visible on the bottom as noted above.

    Phil,
    What if you take your three TBEs to the nearest Chinese Restaurant. I am assuming there is one near you. They might be able to help. At least suggest the dialect, i.e. Mandarin. The three would be comparisons for differences or hard to read symbols.

  183. John,

    I can probably do a translation if I needed to, but I doubt it’s anything other than product number. Yes, tbe’s are two categories 1 screw, two screw, you can see the difference if you look on ebay and see it, it’s in the center of the bottom of the trackball. The one versions are apparently early versions.

    I still haven’t done searches for those numbers.

    Dan,
    Found a tbe for $138 on ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Microsoft-Trackball-Explorer-1-0-usb-optical-mouse_W0QQitemZ300279352209QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCA_Mice_Trackballs?hash=item300279352209&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A0|293%3A1|294%3A50

  184. Phil,

    I bet is something more than just a number. I am guessing it is the manufacturer’s name and address. Comparison of the three should do this. Another way is to scan the bottom and print it. This can then be used instead of the actual TBE. Also a way to enlarge.

  185. Thx for the link Phil 🙂

    This comment made me cry though : “US bidders only please.”

    I’m waiting for a few ebay auctions to end (bid on 4 of them) that actually ship to Canada 🙂

    Maybe this little community here should state if they are bidding on particular ebay TBE so we don’t push the prices too high for fellow readers? Just an idea 🙂 If we wanna go that route, I’ll gladly paste the links to the TBE that I bid on…

    I bid on 4 and actually, I think I’m ahead for all 4 of them :S Hope I don’t win them all hehe else I’ll have to try and sell a few 😉 I’ll keep everyone posted 😛

  186. Got another one for $89, wohoo! My 4th. This one sounds like it’s going to need some tlc, but should solve my ball problem at least. yay.

  187. Dan,

    I don’t have a problem shipping something to Canada. If you spot one for a good price and you want it, you can paypal me the money if you want and I’ll buy it for you and send it to you once I get it…you’ll have to spend I think 10% more though cause of paypal fees at least though.

    There’s one for $128 or best offer right now, which means you might be able to get it for 110-120 or so, but again us shippers only.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/MICROSOFT-TRACKBALL-EXPLORER-1-0-USB-PS2-OPTICAL-MOUSE_W0QQitemZ260329009541QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCA_Mice_Trackballs?hash=item260329009541&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A0|293%3A1|294%3A50

  188. Oh, you’d have to cover my shipping fee too, so it’d tack on another $10-15..but still might be worth it if you spot one for $100 or so. Just email me.

  189. From the description of the one I just bought, it sounds like they cracked the bearing housing trying to turn the bearing over..so if you try my earlier advice make sure you use a sharp tool that will cut the plastic, and not put a lot of force on the plastic.

    Alternatively a better way to do it might be to disassemble the whole thing and drill them out from the rear, but I think that might be more risky, and doesn’t allow you to shift the bearings on the fly in the future if it starts getting slow again…

  190. I am a Trackball Optical (thumb ball) user and am in the same boat as you Trackball Explorer folks.

    Has anyone found a TBO replacement that has 5 buttons?

  191. I’ve used this model trackball for many years, had to revive a “one-screw” back from the dead, twice, due to breakage in the cord. Currently using a “two-screw”. Was able to play professional Counter-Strike on a CAL-Main level (have screenshots for proof). Nobody believed I was for real until they saw me in living color at LAN parties. I was the red ring of death long before the XBOX 360.

    *sigh* why Microsoft, why are you so blinded by greed!?

  192. PC,

    I use tbo’s too, I like them for my laptops. They were pretty unique in that they were 5 button thumb trackballs. The closest of course is the logitech version, but they only have 3 buttons which sucks.

  193. Brian – I hope you are joking, “blinded by greed”? I love these trackballs and want them back, but gimme a break! You don’t even know all of the factors that went into the decision, but if Coke or Pepsi discontinue a product because it’s not selling well, that’s not blinded by greed, that’s good business sense, or common sense (to most of us). Let’s keep this thread helpful and positive, less drama please.

  194. Well, Mark, I think I can maybe understand how Brian feels… Speaking for myself, it’s easy to get to feeling a tad negative when your arm or wrist hurts due to excessive computering and you can’t get your hands on what helps it, and it’s not like you can give up the computering if you want to keep your job! 😉

    I really, really, do not want to carry my TBE back and forth to and from work. I carry enough “hafta have it” stuff every day. I am a very small person and sometimes i wonder how long it’ll be before my laptop case and all the stuff I carry weighs more than I do!

  195. I bought 2 off ebay this week 🙂 101.00 and 122.50 USD not that bad 🙂

    Got over bidded by that trackball_r_us guy on 2 others beforehand… So at least I won’t have to pay 200$ for one now…

    A friend of mine in Cali let me use his shipping adress so I’m good and covered on that now (was about time hehe) And I thank you a lot for the offer Phil, it’s very apreciated!

    There’s another on ebay if anyone wants one currently 10 bids and at US $71.00 :

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Microsoft-Trackball-Explorer-1-0-PS2-USB_W0QQitemZ200285161768QQcategoryZ11193QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWINQ3aPOST0Q3aRECOQ3aBIDQQcmdZViewItem

    Hope this helps someone 🙂

  196. This thread inspired me to dig up my ol’ “one-screw” trackball and bring it back from the dead for a third time (all three times being a problem with the wire). Going to use it at work to ease some wrist strain.

  197. I´ve used the TBE since, almost 8 years ago, i had a RSI problem in my arm, to the point i couldn’t cut a steak for some months… after that, and not being able to live without computers in todays world i checked every pointing device made by man 🙂 and the TBE was the only one that was ergonomically perfect.. yes, perfect… no strain on arm tendons, hands, no trigger finger problems, nothing. Never used a mouse since.. yes, almost 8 years without mouses… and now the bearings are worn and need a replacement… damn microsoft.. i’m sorry to say this, but the prevalence of mouses, with 4 year old kids using them today, is going to destroy the right arm of half the humam race in 30 years.. people, and Microsoft, just don’t understand how easy it is to damage your limbs using mouses and double clicks (set a button for double click on the TBE, and you’re done with that forever) and don’t believe the pain those of us who actually experienced it first hand suffered. So, to all those people at Microsoft, hope you get a RSI, then you’ll think about just how important “profits” and “market shares” really are…

    >ranting over<

    bahhh

    PS: it’s about time the cursor on screen and click thing ended… time to think outside the box and come up with a new way of interacting with computers…

  198. I own the original Intellimouse trackball and have been using it for over ten years…maybe 14, I don’t know…..but it has what appears to be jewels for bearings instead of steel..never wore out at all and still looks new …I’ve had to scrape the rubber wheels off a few times but I am thinking of replacing the rubber with rubber from an old mose and should be good as new…I am very lucky to have bought such a good product when I did…I just don’t think i would be able to use the pc w/out the TB

  199. Mikus,

    There’s been large headway made in neural mice in the past couple years. Likely in 5 years or less we’ll all have neural headsets that will act perfectly like mice. heh They’re out now even, but most of them only actuate buttons, and they’re still pretty pricey.

  200. Thanks Phil, half of that stuff on my website was modeled using a TBE. I currently work in the video games industry making 3D assets with a TBE both at home and work.

  201. Wow! Really? Amazing! I can’t use my tbe for anything that detailed, I have to switch to my wacom tablet…I mainly just like them for desktop stuff.

  202. Just checked that OCZ is selling something thay call NIA, Neural Impulse Actuator… Control your games (just games?) using brainwaves.. wow… still not sure if it’s a April’s Fools day thing… could this be the end of Trackballs? And mice?

  203. I have used Wacom Tablets for years, too! My setup here at home is a Wacom Tablet and my TBE. I go back and forth.

    A colleague at work was talking about possibly getting one of those touch-screen PCs… am I the only one for whom a touch screen holds NO appeal at all? All I can think of is RSI in the shoulder because of holding one’s arm out at such an uncomfortable angle to touch the screen… plus I hateHATEHATE big old smeary fingerprints on my screen! I had a sup at a former (TBTG) job who used to come up behind the workers in their cubicles and stick her fingers on their screens pointing at things. It drove most of us NUTS! We had a bottle of screen cleaner and a roll of towels that would make its rounds up and down the rows of cubes after she’d been by!

  204. Tilted mouse is better than a conventional flat one, but it has a fundamental problem: the user has to move it around on the table, and that movement stems either from the wrist (bad) or from the elbow/shoulder (bad). For these reasons mouses are by definition tougher for RSI/CTS sufferers and less accurate than trackballs with which the cursor positioning is accomplished with the finger muscles which have much finer control of movement.

  205. No one probably wants to hear this but it might lend hope to keep your eyes open. I also wanted to gloat a bit. I was looking for instruction on how to use a Microsoft Trackball Explorer 1.0 when I found this forum. I picked it up a Goodwill for two dollars today. It looked like a relic, I thought it might be fun to play around with. I’m going to keep it due to it’s apparent level of awesomeness. It’s taking a minuet to get used to all the buttons and the track ball. Any advice on how to “set the functions” for the extra buttons?

  206. Well you can add me household to the list. I’ve had mine for over 7 years without a problem. A couple of years ago I bought my wife her own computer and she just had to have a trackball like mine…lol
    After alot of bidding we got her one. I wasn’t about to give her mine. I have worn through the silver to the hideous color of an apple II and the steel balls have been worn pretty flat but she’s still working like a champ.

  207. Hi Jackie! Congratulations on your find! If nothing else, it’s some return for the dollar (or two)! 🙂

    You can download the latest driver and application for TBE from Microsoft’s hardware website. Once you’ve installed it, you can start the “Microsoft mouse” application which allows you to change the button definition, etc. on the TBE.

  208. Thanks for the support, Phil.

    What are all of us going to do in 5 years once our TBO’s or TBE’s are dead? I’ve already been through one TBO.

    Maybe I should switch to some sort of touchpad that allows finger gestures. (I’ve given Microsoft enough finger gestures; I just figured I’d make them productive.) I like the two-finger scroll on some laptops.

    The only things that hold me back are cost and accuracy. I do a lot of LabVIEW work, schematic drawing, and PCB layout. I couldn’t get something cheap that’d work for me, could I? Cheaper than the $99 for a “new” TBO, at least.

  209. When my current in-use TBE and the two other TBEs I have in very low use finally give out so that I no longer have a TBE for my workstation, I’ll probably move to Kensington’s Expert Mouse if nothing better is available at that time.

    But I try not to think about it. 😉

  210. Only thing I see potentially wrong with it is the fact that it is PS/2 or Serial interface only. I have one computer that doesn’t have a PS/2 port (newer Dell) and the serial port is already taken. If they had an updated version with USB, it might be worth a shot. It kinda reminds me of my old Kensington Orbit, just with more buttons and the ball isn’t blue. That middle button is kinda in a weird spot, too. I guess you could hit it with the base of your finger. Not sure what the use of two scroll wheels is either, unless it’s just so you can use whichever one is closest/easiest. Good find, though. There are still viable alternatives out there.

    On an unrelated note, I’ve recently acquired a MacBook Pro and needed a travel mouse and found that Kensington’s SlimBlade series is a very good investment for the price. Around $30 for a mouse that has controls for iTunes/Media Player, and the scroll function on it is provided by a small (3/16″-1/4″) ball that works as X and Y axis scrolling, but on a couple models it can function as a trackball. *sigh* Makes me miss my TBE.

  211. The TBE has a ball 46mm in diameter. This is 1.811 inches. This should be used in comparisions with other trackballs.

  212. I’ve been trying to find another one of these for a few weeks now. I know that’s not NEAR as long as some of you. I agree, Best Trackball EVER. Microsoft would garner alot of support and/or respect if they would just make even a few thousand more. Don’t see it happening, but maybe someone can get ahold of Slick Willy Gates and drop some hints. Ha Ha.

  213. I have used the TBO for around 6 or 7 years. Can’t imagine working without it. Am using my second one now. I hate the idea of paying as much as these things are going for now but I probably will if/when my second one ever croaks. If anyone ever produces a wireless one I’ll probably pee my pants with delight.

  214. I have just learned this devise was discontinued that is hard to believe. I bought one back in 2002 for knowing others that had one used maining for gaming. I learned what ever is used for gaming is the best to buy. My right button just stop working but I have been looking for a new one for the past year. Finding this article on the net was a shock. After finding that a new one would cost $500 and seeing what other companies have, the cost just about out weights to buy them. This is when I have been told long back upon finding a good buy to buy more than one for this very reason. Mouses are find back in the day and ok today when not using a computer much or just browsing. The rollerball is much better when on the computer a long time or the hours in a day gaming. For most part I can still use my trackball except when the right button is needed. Back when this product was out maybe demand wasn’t as great but now with use of computers used more I feel this should replace the mouse upon buying a computer.

  215. I love my TBE, I’ve had it for almost 8 years. I still use it and it’s outlasted a kensington expert trackball (pure garbage) AND a Logitech cordless optical trackman (left click died after 2 months). I for one, am VERY disappointed Microsoft no longer offers this product. In my personal opinion it’s THE best trackball I’ve ever owned, and it seems as though it’ll be the best period. What a shame such an excellent device fell into the hands of the marketing “geniuses” of the world.
    On a side note, these people all need to be fired. They think that looking at numbers will give them accurate customer feedback. They have no earthly idea what consumers want, need, or are happy with.
    In conclusion I’d just like to say…..BRING IT BACK!

  216. Its gone man<—— Let it go!

    MOVE ON

    Sell what you own on eBay, make a few bucks

    and

    Get use to a Logitech TrackBall!

    Logitech can make a ROCKIN 4/5 Button TrackBall

    and

    They will, if every1 write to Logitech

    instead of

    Microsoft.

    Happy New Year 2009!!!

  217. Yeah, it’s gone. That’s why this is an appeal. I personally will move to Kensington Expert Mouse as I mentioned few pages up when last of my TBEs finally gives up the ghost one day in the future (assuming there’s nothing better available at that time). Though far from optimal, its large ball and sort of a scroll wheel make it the best candidate to keep on trackballing.

  218. Hey, Van_Helsing_666… I’m afraid I can’t agree with your “Its gone man<—— Let it go!” ideation. Perhaps because I’m a stubborn old woman, or maybe because I think that there are some things that are just too good to let go without- well, not a fight, really, but certainly taking a stand.

    And, to parrot what I wrote on the petition at the forum… there IS one another thing to consider, and that is if the good folks at Microsoft were to see fit to bring back the Trackball Explorer, the resulting publicity would be a very positive thing for Microsoft too! Imagine the nice publicity, all over the internet… a company that actually listens to its customers!

    I would certainly let it be known what dear sweet wonderful folks they were at Microsoft to do this. I’m certainly not above a bit of sucking up for a good cause.

    A total win/win situation!

    So it would be good for them as well as for all of us bereft users!

  219. Can you tell that “Trying to think positive more often” is on my list of New Year’s Resolutions?

    Happy New Year, everyone.

  220. Add my name to the list. I wrote Microsoft and had the most absurd conversation with someone who obviously was not conversant in English. I told him that I had just paid over $150 (two years ago) for a T/E, and that the current Ebay prices were approaching $300.

    And this clown say, “I understand that your complaint is that $300 is a high cost for a trackball. Microsoft makes it’s prices as competitive as possible while still making our products profitable”.

    Gotta love Bangalore.

    About four years ago, there was an Ebay listing for 3 trackball explorers for about $130….if I had only known then.

    is the Trackball Explorer the GM EV-1 of the computer industry?

    I hope this movement gets some attention, because I’ve already broken one and the other won’t last forever. You’re the only person with a public platform that pointed out how to take your fingers off the ball and click the button to avoid mouse drift….and it’s tragically unfortunate how when I explain that to other people who tell me a trackball is “too hard to use” their eyes glaze over. How few remember that Solitaire was created so they could learn how to use a mouse, which at one time they found as hard to use then as they claim the trackball is now.

    I’m crushed. As always, us one-percenters are left with nothing, and the mob rules even when it’s clueless and wrong.

    TRACKBALL! TRACKBALL! TRACKBALL!

  221. Quick updated link for those who’d want one 🙂

    http://wantitnow.ebay.com/Microsoft-Trackball-Explorer_W0QQadidZ320311283955

    Also, I bidded on one too many in december and got stuck with 4 winning bids :S I’ll only be needing 3 + the 2 I already had…

    Last one that got here I paid 122.50 USD for, I’d be willing to sell it to this community if anyone want it for the same price I paid + shipping (I’ll have to check with your area code to know the shipping cost)

    Here’s the ebay link :

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=280291223561&ssPageName=STRK:MEWN:IT&ih=018

    In 1 week, if noone here wants it, I’ll put it on ebay again

  222. Well it’s pretty obvious, Microsoft had to stop manufacturing the trackball explorer, it was liable to to kill their reputation of ONLY producing total crap!

    Like Frank from Germany above, I too have used a trackball explorer for many years, I have one at home and at work I have one and alongside a regular scroll wheel mouse for the vast majority of people who simply can’t use a trackball! It’s unbelievable to see some people struggle to control the cursor with a trackball. Personally I can only use a mouse for a short while and my hand cramps up. I used to use a Logitech Trackman Marble both at home and at work, but intensive use of this for long periods gave me RSI in my thumb, no such problems with the TBE! I just wish somebody would make a bluetooth version!

    Scott,
    UK of GB

  223. http://i.gizmodo.com/5125543/kensington-slimblade-trackball-built-to-handle-digital-content

    Recent CEA research shows that over 70% of the applications used in the home are centered on entertainment, music and media. Trackballs have long been used in the workplace, but as digitally-savvy families are taking advantage of the broad range of Internet-based sharing and entertainment capabilities and increasing the quantity of home computing activities, early Kensington research shows that the trackball is about to become the device of choice for personal use.

    “Our Kensington SlimBlade Trackball is a true standout that should become a ‘must have’ for today’s digital lifestyle-savvy consumers,” said Juan Rodriguez, Senior Global Product Manager, Kensington. “We have been known for our trackball leadership for 25 years, so it is only natural that we would be the ones to accomplish this breakthrough user interface, where ‘now, the ball does it all’. And it fits perfectly into our award-winning smart made simple SlimBlade Collection. This product is going to set a new standard for the computer/user relationship from the moment it comes to market.”

    Retail price: $129.99 (ouch)

    I already have a slimblade mouse from them and I love it, but this looks like it could be the next great one. Kensington was the first trackball I ever owned (the old blue orbit) and they’re the reason I bought my first TBE after I wore the Orbit completely out. I particularly like the end of the first paragraph. Duh? We’ve been saying that for years.

  224. Eric, great news, thanks! It’s great to see that someone is working on the new trackball designs. The new Kensington certainly looks cool, but it’ll be interesting to see how ergonomic it is. I usually rest the lower left quarter of my palm on the TBE’s “body” which allows the fingers to “float” over the trackball and the buttons with the wrist almost exactly straight. The tallest point on the new Kensington is by far the trackball so it seems the user would easily bend her fingers and the wrist upwards. But it’s hard to say for sure without trying it out.

  225. Yeah. Kensington certainly thinks that design is the best they can do. Ball in the middle with 4 buttons around it. I’m just happy that somebody is still developing new ideas in this market. And at least Kensington still believes in us. Maybe we can appeal to them to design an ergonomic trackball via the TBE or Logitech Marble or something similar.

  226. PLEASE CONTINUE TO manufactur TBE, I cannot imagine working with computer if my existing TBE stops working.

    TRUST ME, I tried atleast 10 different trackball mouses apart from MS TBE, they all SUCK, the worst part is no one else is thinking like MS, who did it ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.

    Anyone please push my request, all TBE LOVERS, please find a way to re-initiate this request.

  227. I have a couple contacts at Microsoft who are looking into whether or not there are extra TBEs stashed away. I figure that since they’re saying there was a low demand for them there must be a stockpile of them that went unsold. If I can get my hands on any, I will post the price and the availability on the forum.

  228. That’s interesting, though often companies unload discontinued merchandise at discount retailers like Overstock.com. And, in fact, after the TBE was discontinued I recall seeing some fairly large lots of them (several hundred units) at some discount retailer’s website. I think they were about $40 a piece at that time. And, ah, I didn’t buy any… 🙁

  229. I live in Japan and TBE also go for over 200 dollars over here. I’ve also sent Microsoft an email just like everybody else.
    One thing I can say is the Sanwa Supply TBE imitation SUCKS. They totally messed up on the design of that thing. The sensor is located in the worst place possible and it won’t read the trackball when going sideways. The DPI is messed up on it and is just crap so anyone looking for hope in Sanwa Supply’s imitation should just give up because it isn’t worth the money. I’d send it out to ya if it was even a decent replacement but it’s just too bad. The only decent trackball that Sanwa Supply has is the “spaceship looking” FORCE trackball. This trackball I’ve used and although probably not for everybody, this trackball is smooth and comes with a scroll on the side. The trackball glides on three metalic balls. link below.

    MA-TB35DS
    http://www.sanwa.co.jp/product/syohin.asp?code=MA-TB35DS

    Sorry it’s in japanese :/

    I’m new to this forum by the way. I’ll be updating you from the Japanese Market 🙂

  230. I too can’t figure out why companies “get it right” and then deside to change or even worse (as in this case) discontinue a great product. The TBE, mine being 4+ years and three computers later, still is by far the best input devise I’ve ever came across. Such a shame. You would think a simple search on Ebay would show Microsoft what kind of demand there still is for this product.

  231. You would think so, wouldn’t you. That’s why their decision to discontinue the product was a “strategic” one (i.e. “it doesn’t make any sense but they think it does”).

  232. So, I am not alone in my love for the TEB? What a relief!

    I have had mine for years and have put uncountable hours on my TBE, it still works like a champ, even though the pins have worn to little nubs. I should have bought them up while they were cheap…now going between $200-$400+ online.

    I have searched endlessly for a suitable replacement and begged MS to bring in a replacement, to no avail. Hopefully one will finally come out before mine stops working.

    I have tried to use mice and other trackballs, if they don’t come up with a similar device, I swear I will stop using computers the day mine dies 🙁

    Isn’t there a company out there that can produce these on a small scale???

  233. Microsoft are a pig headed company who deserve a lot less than they get.
    When they are on hard times some one will say “What if we listen to our customers… they will tell us what they want and we will sell loads!”
    Untill then we will be without our new TBE’s
    I wonder how long it will be before some one sues MS for RSI that Mice give you?? Let alone the callus you get on the hhel of your hand.
    Liten and learn Microsoft! (BILL!)
    Rant over.
    Happy New Year.

  234. No one posting here actually knows the reason why Microsoft stopped making this product, yet they assume they are just idiots or greedy. Corporations are supposed to make a profit, at this time there are 277 comments, let’s assume that is 5% of the people who would buy a new one the first year Microsoft started making it again, that’s only 5540 units. Let’s be generous and say 1%, that’s still only 27,700 units, probably less than $200K in profit, sales would probably slow down again after all the fans bought some. I’m guessing it’s not worth the effort for a company that size. Microsoft exists to make a proift and make money for shareholders, not please every small niche market thsat might say mean things if they don’t get their way. And that’s assuming it was low sales, maybe they got some reports of bad ergonomics or lead paint and didn’t want to end up like Steve Martin in The Jerk, writing out a million settlement checks for a class action lawsuit 🙂

    I love the TBE just as much as anyone, I use 3 and have one as a spare. But I find it comical the emotions that people are feeling because they can’t buy their favorite trackball. Millions don’t even have a computer, some don’t even have a house with electricity & water, and we start getting upset because we have to use a different kind of trackball/mouse. Don’t forget to keep your “problems” in check with reality.

  235. Certainly it’s a profitability decision to Microsoft, or at least a decision based on the fact that maintaining a device different enough from the mouse line would consume more R&D/marketing funds than what it would be worth.

    However, not all products are maintained because of straightforward profitability. Customer satisfaction also figures in some.

    And then there are companies like Kensington or Logitech for whom it does seem economically feasible to continue offering their inferior (to TBE) trackball models. More than the fact that Microsoft discontinued the TBE I find it strange that none of the manufacturers that continue offering trackballs haven’t managed to create a bit more ergonomic design than the current models from Kensington or Logitech. It shouldn’t be that difficult — they could just copy the TBE shape if they can’t think of anything better.

  236. Ville,

    Microsoft has a patent,6,556,150 B1 issued April 29, 2003 by U.S. Patent Office.

    This can be found by doing a patent search on the Internet.

    The one thing I would change is the thumbwheel. Rotate it 90 degrees so the thumb moves up and down rather than front to back. What do you think of this idea?

  237. John, yes, I would expect Microsoft to hold a patent for it which makes it doubly strange that they neither offer the device nor allow anyone else manufacture it on a license. They specifically stated that [the TBE] “is not on the licensable devices list at this time”. Sounds like a consipiracy to leave everybody crippled with CTS/RSI! 😉

    Rotating the thumbwheel 90° is a great idea! It feels a bit weird to think the wheeling motion would be sideways, but I think it would be easy to get adjusted to as the sideways motion would be more natural. It would also seem that not having to push/pull the thumb would put less strain on thumb’s joints. Now where can we submit feature suggestions?

  238. Perhaps a few more good suggestions would change things/attitudes??? I would like to see the heel of the hand higher than the fingers. I glued a door stop to the bottom of my TBE. Works fine, more comfortable. This is an issue of relative elevation between chair and keyboard/TBE height. I have my setup such that my arm and wrist don’t move, only the fingers. Less stress. Wireless would be another improvement.

  239. I am at it again. Trying to get one of these blogs to reach MS for us.

    I wrote this to them.
    I’ve always loved your blog: can you look at this situation please?
    The Microsoft Trackball Explorer, the world’s most comfortable trackball (input device ever) has long been discontinued and I was wondering if you might have the clout to get MS to do something about returning it to the market.
    I could go on however this site will show the tremendous support for it. http://my.galagzee.com/index.php/2007/07/03/microsoft-trackball-explorer/

    ttp://www.engadget.com/contact/tips/
    http://gizmodo.com/ Tip your editors:tips@gizmodo.com

  240. I don’t think this is relevent. The Microsoft patent is on the configuration of the mouse, i.e. shape and effect on fingers. The patent listed immediately above is about the ball and the reading of the markers on the ball as being movement to the on-screen arrow in the X and Y direction.

    Also note the date of filing and compare this to discontinuance of TBE availability. This lack of availability came well before the lawsuit. Thought of differently, if this was a patent infringement, why not use what some others are using? If anything these two need each other due to their being complimentary instead of conflicting.

  241. Oh man do I worry that eventially my TBE will give up working. I have purchased 3 over the years and was shocked to see the price at over a hundred dollars a couple years ago. Wow I should have bought then, they are going for 4-5 hundred $ now. I actually fixed one of mine by changing the cord from one that didnt work.

    Someday all the old TBE will be patched together from parts rather than giving up this best mouse on the planet. Like Cuba and the vintage cars everywhere that get fixed and fixed.

    Count me in to be a regular customer of anyone that can duplicate the Microsoft Trackball Explorer.

  242. Yet another vote to bring back the TBE. I have one on my home computer. Once I finally realized how awesome they were, they were out of production and fetching big prices on eBay. I will never give mine up. If Microsoft would re-release a version, I know I would buy several, some for safe keeping and some for all my computers.

    I never found the thumb-ball trackballs very comfortable, I always seemed to prefer the finger-ball trackballs. Today I bought this Logitech (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104125&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Mouse-_-Logitech+Inc.-_-26104125). Hopefully it will fill the void here in my office.

  243. Perhaps that’s the plan at Microsoft… once the TBE is first withheld for few years and the loyalists made desperate, then it’s re-released and all of us rush to buy ten, twenty units at once! 😀

  244. I beg Microsoft to start the production of their sublime trackball line.

    I miss my two MS Trackball Optical sooooooooo much I’d cry. :s

    There’s no replacement for it out there.

    Logitech’s thumb-operated trackball is utterly useless:

    It’s way to small for my adult hand – MS’s Optical Trackball has way better ergonomic for my adult hand.

    To make things even worse – Logitech’s thumb operated trackballs, are totally lacking the extra buttons the MS Trackball Optical has, which is a major draw back when gaming shooters etc.

  245. My beloved Trackball Explorer is at least six or seven years old, probably more, and even in my animal-hair-filled house (two cats, one dog), it still works perfectly! The finish has rubbed off where the heel of my hand rests, but this is the best mouse I have ever owned, and I swear by it. It is disheartening to think about what I will do when it eventually gives up the ghost; I should really keep my eyes peeled for a spare.

  246. I own a Microsoft Optical Trackball (not the “Explorer”, but the one with the dark gray shell) for the last 7 years. I had it refurbished, i.e. opened it up and thoroughly cleaned it with pure alcohol and it still works fine. Last week a puppy I recently “adopted” short-circuited the Trackball. I managed to fix it and covered the “bites” with gopher tape and I am afraid it is going to stay that way, because some IT-technicians told me the cord could not be replaced. Aby ideas if that is true or if it is worth it to give it a try with another mouse’s cord?
    Greetings from Athens – Greece.

  247. But that’s a… mouse! 🙁

    To prepare for the inevitable I ordered Kensington Expert “Mouse” to compare it to the TBE, side-by-side, to see if it would be workable. There are few options and they all suck in some way or another.

  248. I bought my trackball explorer in 2001 and use it at work. It is the only pointing device I can use that does not cause pain in my right hand. I have been using it so long it is like an extension of me.

    Today it is starting to flake out. I guess something inside is starting to wear out. I wonder if anyone re-builds these?

    Microsoft – Please bring back the Trackball Explorer!!!

  249. I found out today that Kensington has discontinued driver development for Expert Mouse and Orbit trackballs. They work with Vista and Windows 7 (down the line) with the operating systems’ generic mouse drivers, but none of the MouseWorks adjustments and settings are available. It seems that while Kensington still sells those products, they’re slated for eventual discontinuation. Except for their new very uncomfortable “blade” trackball (you turn the ball to scroll?!?). So Kensington is not likely going to come to TBE users’ rescue. 🙁

  250. Oooh, dang, i hope they don’t discontinue the Expert Mouse trackballs! I am holding that in the back of my mind to replace my TBE if/when it goes to that great BSOD in the sky!!

  251. Not yet, at least. Kensington’s response to my follow-up stated that their production continues. But no drivers are planned for Vista or Windows 7.

  252. i have had my trackball ever since release, i waited for it for three weeks till it finally hit the selves and thought it was something everyone wanted, now mine is dying bearing are worn almost to the plastic, ball cloudy,right side buttons dont work superglued on the inside so much that it probably is 80% superglue alone it as frail as my pop, he he, but it works still, ol skool style!! ive used this mouse so long i cant even use another mouse i draw on photoshop with it perfectly, im game mad and couldnt think off trying to use another type of mouse it will kill me. i have come to the conclusion we are all on a crusade for the holy grail of our day and was about to give up altogether till i came here and found i was not alone.
    i have contacted microsoft repeatedly with no reply ive been a pc supporter all my life from the days of commodor 64. maybe we sould see if apple mac wants to cash in on it, they seem to care about their consumers.

  253. HELP! My Trackball just died! It was working fine, kept clean and showing no signs of her age. Then all of a sudden I have NO power. I tried unplugging, cleaning all connections/ ball etc, but no luck. suggestions??? ANYONE??

    thanks

  254. My Trackball just died. I was cleaning it and the red lights went out. That was it.

    It is as if my best friend passed away. My Trackball was like a part of my right hand.

    I have never had any close attachment with any computer part as I have enjoyed with my Trackball. If a card fizzled, or if a drive crashed. OK, get a new one, no biggie. No love lost. I do feel a genuine sense of loss over my Trackball.

    I purchased a Logitech Trackman, but it is not at all the same. First, it is just too small. My thumb still reaches for my Trackball keys and for my scroll wheel. It is close, but a poor substitute for the real thing.

    Hey Microsoft, I am a stockholder. Don’t make me get this Trackball issue added to the annual meeting agenda! I want a new TRACKBALL!

  255. I have used TBE for many years. Lately I have tried almost every alternate device. I am using Kensington Slimblade Trackball since 1 week. Although the driver needs improvements, this device is even better than the TBE !

  256. Heresy!! 😉

    But seriously, how do you like the fact that Slimblade scrolling happens by twisting the ball? I’ve tried Kensington’s Expert Mouse and it’s a workable replacement, especially when used with ERGOrest arm rest (then the less-than-TBE-ergonomic shape of the Expert Mouse is not so much of an issue). Expert Mouse has the ring around the ball to scroll. It’s a bit weird, but works. But twisting the ball (on Expert Mouse to simulate the way Slimblade would work) seems more cumbersome. For example, two fingers are always needed for the ball-twisting action whereas with Expert Mouse or TBE you can scroll using just one finger. I get the impression that Slimblade was built more for the looks than with ergonomy in mind. But I don’t have first-hand experience with it yet.

  257. Twisting the ball works surprisingly well. I am happy that I can finally say goodbye to my TBE’s. Thank you Kensington.

  258. I have an old Trackball that needs some repair. Is there somewhere I can send it to be renovated or repaired?

  259. My sister and I decided to use this tracball years ago and loved the feel of it – I use it from 3d to graphics to music and have not ever found anything comparable. My thumb button decided to start making a squeaking noise last year and I stumbled upon the horror that ms stopped making these gems and they were running for $400+ on the internet and almost fell over. The squeak noise comes and goes and I just hope that I die before this tracball does. They will take my TBE from me when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Sounds like an opportunity for some investors and engineers to come up with a product that is similar. I spend most of my time on the pc and would be willing to pay in the $100 to $150 arena for a brand-new similar product. HOWEVER, if I love it as much as this one, you can bet I’ll buy a lifetime supply before they discontinue the manufacturing of one.

  260. I have worn out 5 of these trackballs. I do a lot of drafting/design work. They are the most user friendly units I have found. I am currently running a Logitech that cost around $70. and I would not trade one working Microsoft trackball Explorer for a truck load of them if the requirement was that I use the Logitech in place of the Explorer. I must admit that the Microsoft unit had one significant design fault. They used steel bearings to support the ball. The bearings wear down and the ball drags in the support cup. I have four of the five balls from the units I wore out just waiting for a unit missing the ball to come up on Ebay. I acutally spoke with a Microsoft rep. and he told me that the reason the units were discontinued was because people could not learn to use them. I guess that is why they are going for over $400. on Ebay now. People just love to buy things they have no inkling on how to use. Microsoft is a 600 lb. gorilla. You do it their way or else. It has worked so far. I am really surprised that some enterprising Pacific rim company has not started cloning these things. Patents seem to have little regard in China. Obviously the right people have not seen this niche market yet. I keep looking on the net. That is how I found this forum. I guess if I look long enough someone will step in and pick up where Microsoft fumbled the ball. (Trackball that is)

  261. As I’ve posted before, my husband has a Kensington Expert Mouse Trackball. Since somehow over the years I’ve gotten stuck with the job of computer maintenance in our house, I use it as an opportunity to use it and try to get used to it just in case my TBE decides to buy the farm someday. It’s okay; I mean I could live with it if I had to, even though I think the price is totally out-phreakin-rageous!

    But…

    I still like my TBE the best!

  262. Okay, I just found something interesting-looking in the way of an input device…

    http://www.cyberguys.com/product-details/?productid=29738

    “A truly unique pointing device, the Swedish-designed Trackbar Emotion is designed to be centered with your keyboard to reduce the repetitive strain of reaching for a mouse. To use it, you roll the silver cylinder on its axis to move the pointer vertically, or slide the cylinder laterally to move the pointer horizontally. It can be positioned with the roll bar closest to the keyboard and controlled with your fingers, or rotated 180 degrees and operated with your thumb. Includes USB cable and microphone cable. Additional functionality available from downloadable software. Arm rest and silicone sleeves sold separately.”

    Anyone have any more info or experience with this gizmo?

  263. It really IS a trip that these things are total cult items now. I’m still on my original, bought it after it first came out; it has a definate patina to it now, and the “oft” the logo are wearing out. I mainly use it for gaming now, and use the first Logitech MX Laser mouse for my design work. I just want to make the TBE last as long as it can, given the fact that, like everyone else on here has said, nothing beats it.

    And I also find it strange that a Chinese company hasn’t cloned it, either. When you look at the innards, it’s basic by today’s standards.

    I’m probably going to have the shell of mine repainted at some point, just to spruce it up.

  264. One thing which appears to be helpful. Wax your trackball. I use turtle wax. I find this reduces friction. I have to do this about every third day. Where it rotates easier, there is less wear on the three steel balls.

  265. I wonder some guys here want a new wireless TBE 2.0 or something that way. A trackball device is static, the wire was the invention – no batteries.
    Bring back the original one please!

  266. This device has been a true lifesaver in my work and gaming. I work with spreadsheets and have had to resort to a regular mouse in the past. Now I keep this TBE in a glass sealed case when not in use so to avoid any accidental damage. I’m thinking about spending money to protect it with a safe at the rates these are fetching on ebay. Would Microsoft be willing to sell the patent? I would buy it and start production again. Whose with me?!?!?!

  267. I too have been dreaming of the day the TBE comes back. I’ve been use the TBE since they came out and loved them There were tons of companies making a format just like the TBE then they all stopped….WHY? Heck, I”m even dreaming of the days that Logitech revamps it’s trackball because the model now isn’t that great. I’ve been looking into all the new ergonomic pointing devices and they’re a couple of models like the Trackbar Emotion that seem to work great for everyday use, but the TBE was the only device that was good for gaming. When half a second could get you fragged you don’t want to take your hand off the keyboard to hit right click. With 4 buttons and a scroll wheel, I can jump, throw a grenade, switch weapon, land, use a melee attack, all the time looking around. This is basic for any gaming mouse and even a cheap $10 mouse could accomplish what you have to pay over $100 on Ebay. I’ve tried the a4tech wwt-5 and it was slow and required me to hover the my hand over the trackball or keep the bottom of my palm on it and twist my wrist. I caused too much paid to use so I returned it. I also tried the a4tech wwt-13, it was better, and I can keep my hand stable on it. It had the problem that it was to easy to hit the scroll bars. Not having that 4th button makes me have to use the software to program macros on the 3rd button which then kind of gives you only 2 buttons. It’s not an optical ball but its was only $27 with shipping. I’m keeping this one but it comes in a very unsatisfactory second place to the TBE. When my TBE does finally break down I’m going to try the Sanwa Trackball.

  268. I have found that I prefer the Microsoft Trackball Optical configuration over the Explorer. With that in mind, I have two of the Microsoft Trackball Explorer mouses available at $100.00 plus $10.00 shipping each. I am in the Western Suburbs of Chicago if anyone would like to purchase locally. You can reply to koakoa214@gmail.com .

    First come, first served.

    Thanks,
    Jeffus

  269. For the love of everything holy and good. I miss my explorer. As everything does, it got old and worn out and finally stopped being as sharp as it used to be. Several thousand cleanings and me babying it as much as possible didn’t counteract the effects of time I’m afraid.

    Anyways, Microsoft is nuts for not making this mouse. Logitech should make something comparable. Most of what they’ve made doesn’t come close to the Trackball Explorer. I really miss having it and can only hope MS comes to their sense at some point.

  270. After much consideration, I have found that I prefer the MTO over the MTE, and thus am parting with my two Trackball Explorers. Anyone interested can e-mail me at koakoa214@gmail.com

    I thought I wouild offer them here before I put them up on E-bay. they are both in very good condition, and both function perfectly.

    Thanks,
    Jeffus

  271. Sorry for slow message approvals over last two weeks or so. I switched mail servers and forgot to forward the old system account… 😀

    Anyway, the posts are all caught up now! Thanks everybody for continuing to contribute to the thread!

  272. Microsoft behaves like a DOG guarding a grass heap when a cow wants to eat it. The dog does not eat nor let the cow go for it.

    They should void the patent atleast so that others like Logitech / Kensignton could come up with an upgraded version like wirelss TBE or bluetooth TBE

    Is there anyone who can kick into the MS big head b*tt by going in person to their office to put up this note.

  273. Search for Rainman on this page, and you will find that post that he made about Microsoft getting sued for using someone else’s patent. If that is the case, then where is the patent being used? Why sue like that and not do anything instead of just selling the patent? I am on my second TBE, and I, like most everyone else, cannot imagine anything better.I have probably used my current TBE for over 3,000 hours, and the only problem with it is that the paint is rubbing off. I live in Seattle, and my friend’s dad is very high-up @ Microsoft. I won’t say who it is, but I might see if I could get the complete reason why the TBE was discontinued, and if it is just because people couldn’t learn how to use it, then I would try to explain the theory of evolution, and natural selection. I mean, they wouldn’t need to sell them to any retailers, really. They could just sell them for themselves @ retailer prices, or even something over $100. I’m sure that we all would be willing to pay $150 dollars for these puppies if ours ever broke. In the mean time, I think that we should create a petition/list of people that would buy the TBE if it was put back in to production and research so we can show Microsoft that it was really a mistake to discontinue the best mouse in the world.

    It might not work, but really, any and everything helps.

  274. Keep up the good work Ville. I also wan´t the Trackball Explorer to come back! I found mine in the “used” shelf at a local computer store. It was only like 6$ so I though it was a good deal 🙂

  275. I love my trackball explorer!! The first one I owned actually died years later and then the 2nd one we bought has a short in the cord but i have one more that is working and I can’t imagine using anything else.

    Is microsoft listening???? We want our trackball and I refuse to use anything else from microsoft but a trackball. I hate mice and always have. So i’ll go buy from another company if my trackball ever dies.

  276. I found a place selling “brand new” Trackball Explorers, still in their boxes.

    I walked in, and was stunned to see four of them lined up. I bought all four of them.

    Sadly, they didn’t have any Trackball Opticals. ::sniff:: Why do you TBE lovers get all the damn luck?

    If any of you TBE owners want a spare, I’ll sell you one of these new ones for what I paid (60+tax). Just e-mail me at spam.guard.1 (at) gmail.com.

  277. You can sign me up for the TBE petition. I have one at work and another at home. Yes, I’d pay a wad for a new one. No, I don’t like the other offerings in the marketplace. I spend 5-10 hours on a computer each day and the speed of navigation, custom button configuration, and little details like precision do mean a lot to me in terms of productivity. Now we have to beat the drum loudly enough…

  278. Any petitions I’ll gladly sign. Just point me in the right direction.

    In the meantime I am babying my TBE like nobody’s business and occasionally making an effort to work with my husband’s Kensington Expert Trackball so I can get used to it, just in case.

    I got a stab of guilt recently… with this stinkoid economy we are quite seriously broke, and it occurred to me that I’m sitting on a (little) gold mine… I asked my husband, The Best Man Everâ„¢, if he thought I should sell my TBE on eBay just because we need the $. He said no, we weren’t THAT broke.

    Did I mention that I adore my husband?

  279. befoer i bought the trackbll explorer, I used the PC-TRAC 1050 Trackball, PS/2-USB. I loved it and then couldn’t find it. i tried the A4Tech WWT-13 Trackball, USB, but once i used the explorer, I was hooked. I love having the 4 different buttons and I use them all the time. I also love the scroll wheel. Microsoft is crazy not to continue making these. I paid 34.00 for mine and now I have seen them for as high as $700.00. that is just wrong!!!

  280. Just wanted to say thanks to PC (above poster). I took him up on his offer for the Trackball Explorer at cost, and it arrived today factory sealed as promised. Thanks again!

  281. Wikipedia has gotten into the action; the trackball article now includes info on the multiple write-in campaigns concerning trackballs. Contribute there and on other sites to try and raise trackball awareness. If we can generate enough press, we might get more of a reaction than venting on forums.

  282. oh, the humanity. my trackball is getting very worn with use. it’s 7 years old now and even though the steel guides in the ball socket are mere nubs, it performs beautifully. i do graphics and routinely use the trackball instead of my wacom pad because it gives me finer control.

    thanks osiris, after dropping this comment, i’m off to wikipedia to join the fight. it’s been so long since i’ve had a cause i can believe in. 😉

  283. Any NCIS fans out there?
    OK… Did ya see it tonight? And did anyone besides my husband and me see the trackball sitting on Ziva’s desk? It had a big red ball. Anybody have an idea what it could be… or how we could find out?

  284. I too took PC’s offer for the brand new TBEs and I received them (2) today 🙂 what a joy to finally have new working TBEs 🙂 last week 1 of my TBE fell to the ground (plastic shell and ball broke) and my other one is showing signs of age…

    I cannot say thank you enough !!! 🙂

    Hopefully they’ll live the same 7-8 years the others did 🙂 By then I hope someone will have produced copies or maybe even Microsoft will have awakened from their torpor…

  285. I’ve had my TBE for more years than I care to count at this point. To be honest, it’s the third I’ve owned. I wish I’d had the foresight to buy about 50 of them, lately I’m taking this one apart to work on it when I have to, and it never quite gets back to 100% when I’m done…losing just a little bit of durability each time.

    I have large hands, and it’s the only trackball that’s comfortable for me. I look for a new trackball each and every time I go to the computer store, no luck. I toss the mouse that comes with my new computers in the trash with the box and the rest of the garbage (ok, in all fairness, I have one mouse in a drawer for the inevitable day when my TBE dies it’s final death).

    If Microsoft doesn’t want to make it again, fine…but at least license it out to someone to do so.

  286. I changed the steel balls in my TBE. These are 2mm. Smallparts.com sells these balls in a variety of materials. I got the chrome steel expecting the chrome to last since it is hard. The minimum is 100 but at $8.69 plus $4.19 shipping from Florida to Connecticut, it is tolerable. You might also want to buy a #45 drill bit. This is the hole size. This cleans out any residual glue. Use this only with your hand, no drill. I did hold it with a pair of samll vice grips. If one of the balls fails to seat deep enough it will throw the ball off center and it will rub the plastic ribs on the ring around the ball. Hopefully this will help extend the life of your TBE.

  287. Hey gang! I still have my two TBE’s for sale for $125.00 shipped, and can take Paypal. I found that I prefer the Optical to the Explorer, so I have replaced both of them.

    e-mail me if interested koa koa 214 @ g mail dot com

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  288. I got started using a trackball mouse with the purchase of Microsoft’s IntelliMouse Trackball. I really liked this unit EXCEPT for the constant cleaning required of the rubber rollers that followed the trackball, rather than the optical readers.

    I purchased an Explorer Trackball long ago when I figured the IntelliMouse would fail fairy soon. Turns out that IntelliMouse keep on working (BUT still required CONSTANT cleaning)

    I got the new Explorer out several times with the idea of hooking it up, but I was put off by the scrolling wheel opration having to be done with your thumb. My thought is your thumb would get tired fairly quickly when doing a lot of scrolling?
    That was one thing I prefered with the IntelliMouse, the scrolling was accomplished with the second or third finger just dragging across the scroll wheel as opposed to the more exagerated motion required of your thumb.

    I liken the extra motion required of your thumb to one of trying to operate those trackball mice that are designed to operate the ball with your thumb. I hate those….too much effort by the thumb.

    I thought I would contribute this thought to the discussion to see if someone had the same experience with the scrolling wheels, and if given a choice in a new or redesign, would some choose to modify this aspect of the trackball??

  289. @brano_2
    For those who have a sticking trackball, try using carmex around the ball, it seems to work pretty well, I’ve been doing it for 8 years.

  290. Jeffus :Hey gang! I still have my two TBE’s for sale for $125.00 shipped, and can take Paypal. I found that I prefer the Optical to the Explorer, so I have replaced both of them.
    e-mail me if interested koa koa 214 @ g mail dot com
    Thanks,Jeff

    UPDATE – I really would like to get these 2 TBE’s into the hands of those who can appreciate them……I have two, and will take $100.00 each, Paypaled and shipped. Please respond to my e-mail above.

    Thanks,
    Jeffus

  291. @PC

    PC :
    I found a place selling “brand new” Trackball Explorers, still in their boxes.
    I walked in, and was stunned to see four of them lined up. I bought all four of them.
    Sadly, they didn’t have any Trackball Opticals. ::sniff:: Why do you TBE lovers get all the damn luck?
    If any of you TBE owners want a spare, I’ll sell you one of these new ones for what I paid (60+tax). Just e-mail me at spam.guard.1 (at) gmail.com.

    PC, you wouldn’t happen to have any of these left would you? I didn’ have any luck with your email address.
    Thanks

  292. @Bevil
    I sent an email over a month ago and also never got a response. I’m guessing they’re all gone. Three of the four PC was selling can be accounted for based off of above replies – 1 to Jon and 2 to Dan. Being such a great offer, they probably went fast.

    What I’d still like to know is at which store they were found.

  293. Thanks guys. I took Jeffus up on his offer. My husband is a TBE nut and his last one finally took the dirt-nap. We, like everyone else here, are bummed out that Microsoft stopped making this trackball.

  294. Try garage sales. I have 2 tbe’s and I got then at sales a couple of years ago. I think I only paid about a total of $5 for the two of them. I could have had a third but i didn’t realise they were so rare.

  295. If anyone knows where I can still get one (or more) TBE, please let me know. I have two and one’s dying, and I’m scared to use the other one! Considering the Kensington Expert Mouse, but it just doesn’t look very ergonomic, and that’s critical for me. Anyone on this list still have one for sale? Email me at TBE at blue collar computers daught com

  296. All—

    I came across half a dozen TBEs that are used but in a good shape. I’m keeping two myself, but can part with four of them. The cost is $100/ea. including shipping in the U.S.

    Drop me a line at ville-at-walveranta-dot-org if you’re interested!

  297. LATEST UPDATE! I have two TBE’s available. They are $125.00 each due to their “as new” condition. Price includes shipping and Paypal fees. US only, please.

    If interested: koa koa 214 @ gmail dot com.

    Thanks,
    Jeffus

  298. Great article! I feel your pain. Speaking of which, my index finger is killing this CAD user. The Explorer had 5 programable buttons and you clicked and scrolled with your side fingers and just rested the index and middle finger on the ball. Now, my index finger does all the work, and with AutoCAD its just click, click click…..pain!…pain!…..

  299. The Microsoft Trackball Explorer is easily the best computer pointing device ever contrived by the mind of man. And so they discontinued it. All you have to do now is copy the design, alter it enough to make it unique, and manufacture it if you want to get rich.

  300. A question from me as well, i bought this mouse a few years ago, till i read this article i didnt know they didnt make them anymore.. so im pretty bummed about that.

    My problem is, except that you have to clean it every now and then, my mousewheel is getting buggy, i barely have to touch it, and i zoom in and out 5 times in a row, which is very disturbing in any way.

    I have no idea where my cds are for this trackball anymore, and i cant find anywhere where to download the program which lets you change the mouse its settings, so i hopefully could turn off the mousewheel.

    Can anyone help me with this please?

  301. The MTE 1.0 is the best creation since color t.v. regular mouses hurt my wrist and tires my arm with all the moving around, how could they eleminate something so kick ass

  302. I’ve had my trackball 1.0 for years since I developed RSI from CAD work. Mine is slowly on it’s way out because the steel balls are wearing away. I was just as upset as everyone else to find Microsoft can’t be bothered to make trackballs any more. They are missing a serious trick as the safety and health market has exploded in recent years (certainly in Europe, although I know this is the other side of the universe from Seattle 😉 )and this is perfect for that. All those corporate contracts to help stop RSI…
    How easy is it to fit new steel balls? I’m terrified of taking it apart to have a little play and killing the best thing ever to sit on my desk.

  303. Checkout this power seller on eBay; trackballs_r_us
    He/they have been dealing in Explorers for at least six years and now has several services for repairing and rebuilding Explorers and Opticals.
    Seems to have pretty good supply of parts – salvaged and new. Very proficient at installing new steel bearings to replace those worn flat.
    Can also restore the shine on the red ball!
    Better yet, they provide a written 60 day warranty on the services.
    They even offer a special kit for maintaining your Explorer – makes them work better and last longer.

  304. Thanks TBE 4 ME, I have ordered a repair and ball refurb and maintenance kit. Shipping to the US will be a bit steep but then alternative is the Logitech top ball trackball at 70GBP and seriously annoying button positions so in comparison it’s not too bad!
    I filled in the box on Microsoft’s website and told them they are missing a trick on marketing stuff for Safety and Health. They could then get some big corporate deals. They kept XP because the corporates wouldn’t upgrade any techie’s hardware because none of the technical software is certified for Vista. Computer OEM’s couldn’t take the sales hit so lent on Microsoft.

  305. I sold last of the three Trackball Explorers I had available a few messages back couple of weeks ago. If I come across any more of them, I’ll be sure to post it here.

    Indeed, someone should copy the format, upgrade it, and start making them. Logitech and especially Kensington surprise me the most since they are in the market and could easily take the initiative to create the new top choice trackball. Sadly, Kensington hasn’t upgraded their MouseWorks drivers (supporting the Expert Mouse®) since 2006, so there are no purchaseable ergonomic trackball options for Windows 7. Kensington SlimBlade isn’t one of them – it’s been designed to look cool, and trackballs are one thing where it’s not “better to look good than to feel good”. Expert Mouse® works with Windows 7 but as a vanilla mouse without any advanced adjustment options such as the ability to remap the buttons.

  306. OK guys, I have an issue with my trackball. The 3 glide balls that the actual ball sits on are metal and are no longer sliding right. Does anyone have an idea what the technical term for those “glider balls are?” I would love to be able to take it apart, pop them out, and replace them with some new ones, preferable glass ones taken from a newer just about any other trackball.

  307. I have been looking for the TBE ever since I got a trackball. Turns out that my grandmother had one that she no longer uses. I got it today in fact. ALL HAIL THE TBE!!!! Well, not literally, but you get the idea.

  308. I had a TBE that I used for 6 years at my old job. Got laid off and had to (regreatably) leave it behind. Tried to get a new one when I started at my new job and discovered they were discontinued and very pricey – $200 used and $600 – $700 new – would have trouble justifying that on my expense report. Called my old job back to see if they would let me have my old TBE and discovered that no one else there wanted it so they just threw it away! Arrrrrh!

  309. It seems that someone with the knowledge and means would manufactor a closely resembled knockoff. Several sites on the net–all complaining about the need for this trackball.

  310. M$ are idiots to discontinue these. I bought four over the years and because they fitted rubbish bearings to the first version, they ‘flat-spotted’ and many sent them back.

    I have three TBEs, two with flat bearings. Although there are people who will repair them, I found it easier to fix them myself. This worked for me and you can try but don’t give be grief if you mess it up.

    Open it up (you will have to peel back stickers/pads to get to all the screws), dismount the PCB’s and the red ball cradle. Carefully drill tiny holes through the back of the red plastic cradle at the bearing recess, pop the bearings out with a needle and replace with similar. Most bearing shops will supply the correct size.

    Just be sure to seat them fully or the ball won’t sit right. If necessary, pop one bearing back out (with something non-metallic, don’t want to pit, score or scratch it) and re-seat it. I managed it in two goes.

    In true Haynes manner, refitting is the reverse of removal.

    Happy ballin’.

  311. I just got both of my TBE’s bearings replaced by ebay seller hkpsg11 who replaces the bearings with carbide bearings which are supposed to last much longer. I had previously used the service of ebay seller trackballs_r_us and was happy with the result but within a year both trackball’s bearings had worn out again to the point where they were unusable. So rather than having them replaced every year, I am trying the hopefully longer lasting carbide bearings.

  312. I’ve repaired my Logitech Trackman Marble several times… and I’ll cry real tears on the day I have to retire the damned thing. I’ll probably wall mount in a display in a place of honor for many years of excellent service.

    Steve

  313. I have several Logitec trackman wheels. I’ve had one since ’97 I see that there are some whose trackballs are wearing out. Just for those who might not know, the logitec ball can be removed, cleaned and reinserted fairly simply. Takes about five minutes. I clean mine about once a year and it works as good as new.

  314. “As I was writing this column, a new Logitech T-CL13 trackball was being sold on Amazon.com for $179”
    Not sure about this statement- I just bought a T-CL13 on Amazon for $42.00 and change. New, and in stock.

  315. Besides the comfort issues, nobody has mentioned the surface problem with mice that trackballs solve. I have a glass desk and any mouse with decent resolution has a laser/infrared sensor that won’t work on glass. Mousepad? yuck!

  316. in my opinion the best trackball was the intellimouse.i just bought a used spare but they are getting harder to find and more expensive even used

  317. Trackball user since early 60’s on mil systems. Suspect mice not invented until early 80’s. Mouse not practical in small gen aviation cockpit. Never had any serious use for mice and hoped they would just die a graceful death. Ironic

  318. I’d better find a replica from China. MS is rediculous!. I can’t use Logitech Trackman Wheel because of root of thumb pain.

  319. I’ve got one available for sale. Condition is 9 out of 10. $125.00 includes shipping to lower 48. Paypal only….

    The search continues..

    Jeffus.

  320. Still have 1 TBE available for $125.00 Paypaled and shipped. SAVE OVER $400 ! 8o)

    koakoa 214 at gmail dot com

    Jeffus

  321. I tried posting another request to MS to revive our beloved TBE and sent them a link to sites like this that carry on about how badly they are desired…hopefully IF they take the time to do a little research they will see that they need to bring it back…and SOON…my TBE is several years old and has put in thousands and thousands of hours all on original pins…I am terrified to part with it to have them replaced, I’d rather have the “slow roll” 🙂

  322. I thought I was the only person in love with the TBE! I had 3 originally. I’ve worn out 2 of them & am down to the last. I’ve tried Kensington, Logitech & one from China (can’t remember the name). I do graphics (to make money) & have had extensive tendon & wrist repair on my right hand. TBE is the ONLY one that I can use for more than a few minutes without pain. Is there anything remotely like the TBE???

  323. Hi all, o/ Got my TBE in 2000 at Staples for $59.99. As you can imagine, major sticker shock when looking to find another befoer this one dies. I love how it works within the AutoCAD program, programmable buttons to complete macros and such. What piracy, $600?? Someone should be slapped! Anybody found a reliable source at reasonable rates? I’d pay up to $125 for one in XCLNT shape. Maaaby $150 for new. Please Micro$oft, please make some more!!

  324. I just have to chime in here. I LOVE the MS TBE. I have two, one for work and one for home, and it’s unbelievable that they don’t make them anymore, and that all trackball replacements are inferior! I do have a Logitech MX Revolution that is the best mouse I’ve ever had, but it’s not comparable to the comfort and ergonomy of the TBE on a desktop. And to add a WTF to Chuck’s statement–599??? Are they serious? Sheesh.

  325. I have one for sale, used but working okay. I updated to the Trackman, took about two weeks of use to get the feel of it, but you do get it in the end.

    Email: Sickboy (at) GamingNi.Com

  326. Hi everyone! Just an update, I have sold my last TBE, and presently don’t have any more available. I will continue to search the nooks and crannies of North America to locate some more, but right now I am out.

    To those who have purchased from me in the past, I hope you are happy with your TBE’s!

    Thank you everyone!
    Jeffus

  327. I didn’t realize these were such a hot item. Wife got one for me years ago. Now, the bearing have also worn flat. I tried the penknife method, but couldn’t get them out. I have a dremel, but I don’t have such a tiny bit. I took a small safety pin, heated up the tip with a lighter, and melted a tiny hole from the back. It took a few tries, but I popped out each bearing and replace it with a new one from Amazon. Metric Chromium Steel Grade 24 Metal Ball 2mm Diameter (Pack of 100). Much cheaper than the tungsten carbide ones. I’ve read that the original bearings were chrome steel also, so that’s fine by me. If I have to replace them in another 5 years, I can deal with that.

  328. My TBE is the shitz!!!!!!!!!! Awesome and then some. Microsoft has doodoo in their marketing brains for not selling these again. Hint: a little hand lotion – very little – on your fingers gets the ball rolling smoothly again. Clean regularly and treat like the Queen’s teacup. 😀

  329. Hi fellow users of TBE,

    I have tried some years ago to get microsoft to re-issue. Reaction was (officialy) that market targets were determined by internal policy not to engage in these mouse projects anymore.
    Have tried in 2007 to find chinese manufacturer, but unfortunate there is no register or any other method to refind the original manufacturer between the fast amount of producers in China.
    If we could trace, I have some possibilities to get a proper contact which would be willing to help us in getting microsoft a re-issue without their involvement (but at a license fee).
    Anyone any idea how to trace the original manufacturer (take into consideration that I tried from within china).
    May be a former employee of microsoft or other involved company at the time of TBE production from US?
    Keep the balls rolling!!

  330. The BEST and MOST COMFORTABLE trackball ever was the Logitech Trackman Marble FX. That was the absolute most comfortable pointing device I ever used, even more so than the old tablets I used to use way back when. The MIcrosoft Trackball Explorer was a mere distant third (just behind the Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman). The only advantage the explorer has is the wheel, which didn’t exist when the FX was made (for only a few short years). Wish I’d bought more than one, it lasted at least ten years of heavy-duty usage.

  331. Yeah, there seems to be a trend going on. The legendary Trackman Marble FX, the venerable Trackball Explorer.. and even more recently Kensington is not providing support for their Expert Mouse for Windows 7 (although support can be hacked together with help of Microsoft Trackball Optical driver and X-Mouse Control software. Apparently Kensington is placing their future trackball bets on the slick-looking but rather anti-ergonomic SlimBlade. It blows my mind that nobody currently manufactures a decent, comfortable trackball. It’s probably not nearly as big of a market than the mouse market, but you would think there would be space for at least one decent trackball. It’s almost like a… conspiracy to give all of us CTS!! :O

  332. I treat my TBE better than I do my husband! 🙂
    Him I can replace!

    He has a Kensington Expert Mouse (WHY do they call it a “Mouse”?). I suppose if anything happens to my TBE (Heaven forbid!!!) I could make do with an Expert, but it would be a strain to get used to.

    I have recurring CTS and RSS, and my TBE is a trusted friend.

  333. Look at Amazon.com… They have sellers who will get you a brand NEW TBE for US$500 !!!! or a used one for US$100 to US$200!!

    Personally, I would not part with my dear TBE…

  334. i found one of these yesterday!
    it’s a pretty decent/trackball.
    i think the left click button might be broken a little…
    it double clicks allot of the time, when it should be single clicking..
    but i just did a little bit of button switching, and it’s VERY decent

  335. I love my trackball explorer, I never thought twice about it tell today, I needed one for the wifes new computer, and bam, wtf no one sells it any more??? HOW THE??? So I go and start looking at new ones, all of the ones I find are eaither a very un friendly design for your hand or use your thumb to move the ball….. I checked ebay and found them though, expensive, $160 for a reconditioned one… Had to settle for a crappy logitech one, I would of been glad to spend anything under $100 to get another explorer though!!!!

  336. I’ve used this trackball exclusively,for over 6 years now,and absolutely love it! I have 4 used ones in my closet,one I’m presently using,and one still brand new and sealed,in the box.

    When this one starts to give me trubs,I’m gonna rebuild it along with a couple in my closet. The easist/quickest fix is to rotate/clock the existing bearings.

    I purchased ceramic bearings online,several years back,that I’ll also use,once the clocked bearings wear out. At that point,I’ll also put in new springs behind the buttons,and temper the plastic wear points ever so slightly.

    A guy on Ebay rebuilds these trackballs among others,and I was the person who turned him onto the site for the bearings,and what works in regards to keeping the ball/sphere in good working order.

    I occasionally play PC games,FPS etc,and I love what this trackball provides,in gaming(and hardcore gamers will laff at peeps using a trackball lol)

    I would love to see this device re-distributed,but sadly,I don’t see it in the near future. Hence,I believe I can keep the remaining trackballs I have,alive and functioning,till the day my old/arthiritic fingers won’t let me point n click lol

  337. Posted before on 6th of April

    Found out why there probably will never be any new trackballs like this – or even alike – on the market.
    Having followed the advise of some others, ordered 2mm chrome steel balls, drilled holes from the back of the transparent red dome, popped out the flat ones, pressed in new ones, and result is a new trackball.

    So why not re-produce them?
    Since there are three separate printcards, several separated leds and sensors, separate placed microswitches and various injection mould made plastic parts, not to forget the amount of inproper placed different sized screws!! These things have cost at least as much as where they have been sold for, even when produced by at least several companies in china.

    Then the garantuee on version 1, which has fragile plastic legs for the bottom left button (changed in version 2) must have cost …….

    As designer and first day rhino user I have thought about a better production version (less parts etc) but the trouble is that our ergonomics will not allow this – compair any ordinary mouse (two plastic parts, one printcard, couple of sensors direct on printcard) and you will understand….

    sorry guys, but live is tough….

  338. Please please please bring back the trackball explorer 1.0. It was the best ever – I have tried to replace it with others so many times and NOTHING out there is as good.

  339. Nonplus, I doubt it. If you click on any of the links on the Google products search page, you’ll notice that all of them are “sold out”.

  340. Thank you for posting this entry. I would cry if I lost any one of my two Microsoft Trackball Explorers! I have one for home and one I’ve taken with me to FOUR different jobs since I bought it back in 2000.

    I’ve seen the repair kids people offer online but I’m almost afraid to open up the Trackball in fear that it might worse LESS after I try and fix it 😛

  341. Back when I originally bought mine, they were around 50 euros a piece. Earlier today my cat spilled coffee on my favorite keyboard, and it got me thinking about having one or more spare TBE’s. Looks like the device has become a collector’s item, with $200+ prices. Makes me cry, when I think about one I threw away because it fell and cracked the case a bit.

  342. I had the TBE for over 5 years doing architectural work nearly 16 hours a day. The thing can’t be beaten. I didn’t have wrist issues or anything but I absolutely noticed how comfortable it was. Now that my dog ate the cord I am back in the market for one and I would pay over $100 for a new one. So little has to be done to the TBE 1.0 to make it the leading pointer in any and all CAD offices. One of us may have to make the next generation of ergonomic trackballs because everything I’ve read is saying microsoft will never revive the trackball.

  343. Just opened my trackball to fix the right-click button. Bad idea. The plastic is so brittle it started crumbling with even the slightest pressure. The trackball I’ve loved for years is sitting in front of me in pieces. Time to move on. RIP Trackball, I will miss you.

  344. Microsoft Trackball Explorer is the best
    device to work with. Ergonomicly so well designed and a joy to work with
    all day long. It took me 40 minutes to
    get used to it but then I knew Trackball Explorers should be on every working table and not the stupid mouse which brings dammage to your wrist easily in the long run. People should be told that
    a good trackball is much better than
    a mouse. Microsoft please bring
    back the Trackball Explorer !!!!!!!!


  345. Paul:

    […]
    Time to move on. RIP Trackball, I will miss you.

    Sad to see it go. We still have one of them operation and in use. I’ve some time ago moved to Kensington Expert Mouse (trackball) whose ergonomy leaves much to be desired, but which is not too terrible to use with an ErgoRest® Articulating Arm Support so that one’s arm/wrist floats above it when a low enough desk is used. That way lack of the ergonomic shape of the Expert Mouse is not so noticeable (and won’t kill your wrist).

  346. I today contacted Contour Design with a suggestion that they would pick up the torch of making an ergonomic trackball. Contour Design makes very well designed and built A/V editing controllers and ergo mice and workstation supplies. They would have the required design expertise and manufacturing experience to create an excellent replacement for Trackball Explorer. In my email I also suggested that were they to entertain designing such device, a bulletin board / blog / feedback form set up for the purpose would provide their designers with lots of ideas about what the users would be looking for in such device.

  347. Ah well, my old faithful Trackball Explorer has finally given up the ghost – the computer simply stopped getting messages from it today. Nice to know, despite multiple drops on the floor, that it was the signal cable the failed before the mechanical innards. Wonderful device.

    And now I’m stuck with no viable alternatives (much as I love the Explorer, I can’t afford to stump up £130+ for one). Rubbish.

  348. I love my TBE. I’ve had it for six years and it was second hand to begin with. It’s been having connectivity issues and I looked online to see if I could get a new one. Not so much. Guess I’ll nurse it along. Not looking forward to switching to a different type 🙁

  349. I have the older model, the 5 button trackball with the thumb operated ball, and love it. The problem is its getting old. The left click button is weak and gives erroneous clicks and the small steel balls that support the big red thumb ball are worn flat so it doesn’t “glide” anymore. I have had this thing for ten years and don’t want to give it up. I have huge hands like an ape and a normal mouse or a Logitech trackball just don’t work. I really can’t afford the asking prices for the remaining pieces out there for a like model. Maybe there is a business potential for refurbishing these things.

  350. I’ve owned my tbe since late 2001 and it has been going strong ever since. Despite a few drops, and countless days maybe a couple years of hourly use it has been the only mouse I want to use. Everything else even in 2011 is rubbish. No company wants to market the tbe, but someone needs to pick up the torch and run with it. The market is clearly there >.< I know my mouse will be clocking out on me in another year or two and it really saddens me that I won't be able to get an exact replacement for it. I don't want another mouse, I want the same one.

    I never did understand why Microsoft let go of such a great product. From hardcore gaming to intense photo manipulation and graphic work there's no other option that works quite so well. I will miss you TBE, you were my first love.

  351. I wish I could find one of these in Toronto at a reasonable price. Or even better if Microsoft started producing them again.
    I’ve never used one but I am certain I would prefer it to a regular mouse

  352. Simply the best trackball ever made. Using the first two fingers, instead of the thumb or middle two like most these days, it was ergonomic and accurate.

    I think it’s pretty clear where improvements could be made inexpensively after all it’s time in the hands of consumers. I can think of a base model, and a couple upgraded versions right off the top of my head (ie gaming style with more buttons and such). I wish Microsoft would either produce it, or license someone else to.

    I’d pay $100 for a updated new one with a smile on my face (and probably several in the basket). More for a high resolution more button gaming version.

    I so miss my Trackball Explorer…all the ones I had over the years died, and I finally moved on because I’m not going to drop $300 for refurbished versions in questionable condition sight unseen. But not a day at the computer goes by that I don’t want to throw my Logitech into the trash and go back to a Trackball Explorer.

  353. Since everyone here is schooled on these… My dillema…

    I’ve used these for 10 yrs. I keep going back and using driver ver 3.2 as later versions lose the ability to program buttons with the “page up” Page Down” function. It’s not on the pull down menus anymore.

    I’ve recently went to Windows 7 Ultimate. It finds the compatable driver and it’s like ver 8 or 9…. Will not allow install 3.2 even under compatability mode, but I haven’t been real successful get much of anything to work under that mode. 🙂 I’m new at Win 7.

    Page up and down functions on the Trackball buttons are super useful to me.

    Any ideas or thoughts?

  354. you are probably having the same problem I am. The left click is probably fine – what is happening is the scroll wheel tension is a little too loose. If you look at the left button, depress it, is it touching/moving the scroll wheel? I took mine apart, cleaned it, but need to take it back apart and fix the tension or shim it. there are also sellers on eBay that will refurbish your TBE and replace the metal roller balls with ceramic ones and a few other services.


    ineedfiles:

    i found one of these yesterday!it’s a pretty decent/trackball.i think the left click button might be broken a little…it double clicks allot of the time, when it should be single clicking..but i just did a little bit of button switching, and it’s VERY decent

  355. check out eBay for sellers to refurbish your TBE! I recall there being two (2) offering similar services. all of the problems that you are describing can be remediated. There are also videos on YouTube showing how people fix them. I just wish I knew where they were getting the ceramic balls and I would fix mine myself!


    alex:

    I’ve owned my tbe since late 2001 and it has been going strong ever since. Despite a few drops, and countless days maybe a couple years of hourly use it has been the only mouse I want to use. Everything else even in 2011 is rubbish. No company wants to market the tbe, but someone needs to pick up the torch and run with it. The market is clearly there >.< I know my mouse will be clocking out on me in another year or two and it really saddens me that I won’t be able to get an exact replacement for it. I don’t want another mouse, I want the same one.
    I never did understand why Microsoft let go of such a great product. From hardcore gaming to intense photo manipulation and graphic work there’s no other option that works quite so well. I will miss you TBE, you were my first love.

  356. check out YouTube for videos. remove the base (there are screws under the two pads), drill out the back of the bearing socket in the trackball holder with a 1/16 bit and push the bearing out, if you have access to the ceramic balls can replace them or “clock” them – rotate the exiting bearing and put it back in the bearing socket. there are quite a few screws inside so just keep track of where they go…


    Jesse:

    Does anybody knows how to replace the bearings on the TBE? Any help will be appreciated.computech1on1@gmail.com

  357. the cord can be replaced. i believe they can be purchased (search eBay or Google) or have one of the eBay sellers do this for you and they will solder it to the board in your TBE.

    Sarah:

    I love my TBE. I’ve had it for six years and it was second hand to begin with. It’s been having connectivity issues and I looked online to see if I could get a new one. Not so much. Guess I’ll nurse it along. Not looking forward to switching to a different type

  358. any word from Contour Design? I’ll buy 10!


    Ville Walveranta:

    I today contacted Contour Design with a suggestion that they would pick up the torch of making an ergonomic trackball. Contour Design makes very well designed and built A/V editing controllers and ergo mice and workstation supplies. They would have the required design expertise and manufacturing experience to create an excellent replacement for Trackball Explorer. In my email I also suggested that were they to entertain designing such device, a bulletin board / blog / feedback form set up for the purpose would provide their designers with lots of ideas about what the users would be looking for in such device.

  359. I’ve left a few comments about the left clicking issue – I need to take mine apart again and look but I believe it is the spring that has worn out and may also need to be replaced – scroll wheel may be fine. from what i remember it is not much different that a spring in a pen so just need to cut one to the right length and try that out. should eliminate having to press the left click so hard causing it to hit the scroll wheel…


  360. Yann Best:

    Ah well, my old faithful Trackball Explorer has finally given up the ghost – the computer simply stopped getting messages from it today. Nice to know, despite multiple drops on the floor, that it was the signal cable the failed before the mechanical innards. Wonderful device.
    And now I’m stuck with no viable alternatives (much as I love the Explorer, I can’t afford to stump up £130+ for one). Rubbish.

    Sadly, mine died too about 3 months ago. The buttons broke and the little plastic pieces were not fixable. I was bummed because there really is no replacement. I decided to go with the Logitech M570 and bite the bullet with switching to the thumb trackball. It took about a week to get used to it and now, it’s second nature. I have to say, I’m very pleased with the mouse since it’s very similar to the MS trackball. The huge upgrade is it’s wireless with a tiny little usb plug and works like a champ. So while I’m bummed to see my MS trackball go, the change over to the thumb control was the answer for me.

  361. Love my TBE. I have about 10 of them and use them at various places around the house. There is no other that even comes close. i just hope the ones I have last me the rest of my life. Can’t believe Microsoft won’t give the patent to someone else if they’re too stupid to not bring it back. Shame on you Microsoft. I just wish I could get the Microsoft logo off of those I have left. Hate Microsoft. Love TBE.

  362. Dark days indeed. I currently use the MS Trackballs at home, but have Logitech equivalents at work.
    Both work equally well, but the older MS Trackball has those extra buttons that Logitech won’t catch up with till around mid-July with the UK release of the M750.
    The biggest difference that I encounter daily is the ergonomic side. The MS Trackball is infinitely more comfortable for my hand!

  363. I’ve been using the TBE since 2000 – and started looking for a replacement in case it breaks. I didn’t realize the high demand was creating a price hike for new, yet discontinued TBEs, until now… Microsoft should be pressured into re-manufacturing this fine mouse, since it’s only the BEST ergo mouse EVER invented!

  364. @Julianne… that trackball has been around for quite some time. I’m not sure if I have ever got to try one.. but one concern I have about it is how little of the trackball ball is exposed.

    @Mark C… I totally agree, but thus far we haven’t figured out what would sufficiently pressure Microsoft to pull such a feat! 🙂 I think it’s more likely that some smaller manufacturer – like Contour Design would take up the challenge of creating a modern trackball to match the venerable, late MS Trackball Explorer.

    My wife still has a functional TBE; I moved to Kensington Expert Mouse after my last TBE stopped working. It’s ok, though nowhere as ergonomic as the TBE. Kensington’s more recent design, SlimBlade is unpleasant to use and seems to have been designed for the looks rather than ergonomics.


  365. marco:

    I have a brand new in the box trackball explorer #X05-42185 for sale. Send me a note if interested. I’m not a business.

    Marco,

    Would love to purchase your MS TBE. Contact me at KNR1 @ rcpt.at and we can discuss specifics.

    Thanks

    k

  366. I’ve now laid in 3 spare TBEs. I would gladly purchase new units should microsoft start making them again. I use them through a PS2 KVM switch. So I don’t get to use buttons 3 & 4, but everything else works great! Wireless is not an option for KVM setups, nor is USB a lot of the time.

    My only suggestion would be to consider having either the side-to-side scrollwheel like their mice, or move it over to between the 3rd and 4th buttons. I find scrolling with the thumb is a bit uncomfortable over time.

  367. Lets see here I now own 2 of them Ive had one 8+ years maby and you couldnt pry it out of my hands.The one im currently using I just finished refurbishing..Instead ofreplacing the bearings I took them out and turned them around fixed anything loose on the inside and it works like new again this spring im going to repaint it and get my buddy to air brush it before the clear coat goes on..Now my newest one..Ill have it in a week bought it off of e-bay for the price I bought my other one new years back.I need a backup if I go without I think ill be lost lol.Best mouse/trackball ever made

  368. This was very enlightening to read the contents on this site. I ordered a trackball mouse through my work and was very disappointed in the design and how it did not conform to the natural angles of my hand /wrist. The placement of the function buttons was rediculous and impractical. It appears that it was designed by someone who has never used a mouse. I did not consisder looking for the MTE as I have had my MTE for about nine years and remember that I paid about $80.00 for it which i thought that my job would not pay for. After my disappointment I decided that I would just purchase my own mouse for comfort. I was shocked to find that my nine year old mouse had more than trippled in price and that the bidding price on Ebay starts at $199.00 ! I love my MTE It has been with me through 3-4 jobs and has never failed. I am glad to see that there are others out there that understand the unique design of the MTE and can fully appreciate the difference that it makes. I agree that there is a market out there quality products like the MTE and can’t fully grasp why something so functional was discontinued. There are other mouse devices that cost over 100$ and they do not even come close to delivering comfort, precision, and practicality in design and function. I’d rather pay three or four times as much for a product that I am satisfied with such as the MTE.

  369. Has anyone tried contacting Logitech, if they would be willing to pick up the ball? I have an M570 and it’s a step in the right direction, but I find thumb control slower and a lot less precise than fingertip control.
    If only they did an M570 with fingertip control… I’ll send them a note!

  370. Yes, I’m using M570 with my laptop. It’s “OK”, but I agree with you – the thumb control is not as accurate (though I still take it anytime over a mouse). If they were to reverse the ball and the buttons/scroll wheel locations, then we’d essentially have the same arrangement as the trusted ol’ Trackball Explorer.

    Since TBEs are increasingly rare and expensive, I’m also using Kingston’s Expert Mouse in some situations. It’s also “OK” (at least it’s got a big forefinger controlled trackball), but it’s obviously nowhere near as ergonomic as what TBE was. However, it’s useable with a third party wrist/arm support as the one that’s included sucks (I use ErgoRest “330 000” series forearm support).

  371. The key to long life of the wimpy steel balls in the TBO and TBE is to *always wash your hand* before using the trackball. Also pop out the ball and wipe off the steel balls before each time you sit down to use your computer.

    Out of the box they are not good devices for a shop environment where dirt and oil/grease is around. The balls will flat spot in a matter of months, and/or the plastic ball will get all scratched, which wears the steel balls even faster.

    If Microsoft had spent a few more cents per unit on silicon nitride balls, they would be nearly indestructible.

    Now that I know it’s possible, I’m looking for a how-to on replacing the steel balls.

    I have four or five, sadly I’m the only one using them who rigorously keeps them clean, so only the one that only I use still shows no wear on the steel balls. NOBODY ELSE is ever touching *my* TBO! Quite literally it’s “Keep your filthy hand off my ball!” 😉

    “Self cleaning.” That’s the big lie about trackballs. 😛 More like “Picks up skin oils which collect dirt and fuzz out of the air then grinds away at the sliding bits.”

    BTW. I got my TBOs on eBay shortly after Microsoft discontinued them. Someone obtained a large lot of defective returns. The only problem was the workers assembling them weren’t careful and broke one or two legs loose on the transistor driving the sensor LED. The pointless illumination (Look at me! I’m *optical*!) LED worked. A simple matter of hitting those connections with a soldering iron and they were perfect. MS being too cheap to repair them was nice for a lot of soon to be TBO owners.

  372. Why the buttons get wonky is the switches are a snap dome type. There’s a tiny metal dome shaped spring inside the switch and after a few bajillion snaps it cracks. If the button seems to be “dead” and you no longer hear a click when pushing it, and you have to press hard and/or get random clicks, that’s a cracked snap dome.

    There are two fixes. One is to find a mouse that uses switches either exactly the same or the same size, unsolder your bad one and the right or center one from the mouse and solder it into your trackball.

    The other fix, which I did on many mice in the pre optical era, when mice were all expensive, was to take two mice with dead left switches, which had either the same switches or ones the same size, then carefully cut off the melted plastic nubs holding the metal top on the switches. I’d then transplant a good dome into the left switch on the mouse I was repairing. To hold the switch together took some very careful application of super glue, being careful to not get glue inside the switch. I have a funky looking Fellowes optical mouse I need to replace the wheel click switch on, someday. My TBO replaced it.

  373. Hey, anyone know if the ball is interchangeable between the TBE and the TBO? I could use a spare TBE ball and if the TBO is the same size it’d widen my possible search for the part.

  374. I have been checking websites for Microsoft TrackBall Explorer and I am suprised by the much positive reviews and the demand for it !
    (- I have not seen any negative!)

    Then, how come Microsoft discontined them? This is more surprising !!!

  375. I’ve been using the TBE for a long time now , I’d say about 8 years, i have to admit its a very good precision trackball mouse and no other trackball feels right after you get used to using one of these. However i did manage to buy a new one at fry’s about 4 years ago to replace the original one that was going out. Needless to say these TBE’s last an extremely long time , and i think microsoft is being greedy by discontinuing them due to thier durability, they would rather have you buy something that breaks down in a year or two rather than 4 to 5 years , so you would have to keep replacing the product , and they keep making that money from the consumer everytime you do. Just my opinion , take it however you like , but if you were to make something that last a long time in durability, then how would you get your repeat sells?

  376. I don’t understand why they don’t bring this back. I had one at work and one at home and had 2 spares 6 years ago. Now I have none. And I don’t care for the competitor’s version. I liked having the ball under my fingers and the buttons for my thumb. That set up works best for me.

    Please bring this back!

  377. Sorry!, Same rant, different product.
    [ Microsoft Optical Trackball USB Mouse 1.0 ]
    To many, including myself, it’s the finest mouse ever made. MS discontinued it?!
    Absolutely no logic on the MS side. I’ve owned 3, now their $200 to $500 used
    on eBay. I’ve repaired all of mine until they quit responding, Hardware can be repaired, but when the electronic components no longer respond, IT’S OVER!
    I’ve seen some “Explorers” on eBay, they’re also expensive. If we can’t live without them, I guess we’ll just have to take a chance & spend the money.

  378. Also great for those with hands – my wife can move the ball then press the button, with a rubber tipped pencil, in two moves without moving the on-screen pointer but it’s ***impossible*** for her to use a mouse.

    Currently using Microsoft Optical Trackball USB Mouse 1.0. Have had it for years and desperate for new one.

  379. The word ‘handicapped’ was left out of my comment – it should have read ‘handicapped hands’.

    I didn’t realise that by enclosing ‘handicapped in ‘Less Than’ and ‘More Than’ (pointed brackets) that the contents would be left out!!!

  380. I love this trackball…I also have tried to contact Microsoft …without results. This is an item with a market base just waiting to purchase it. I have tried many others…none compare to this trackball…it is the most comfortable, functional, etc, etc, etc,…. PLEASE BRING IT BACK!!!

  381. I miss my TBE, it recently died. I was thinking about the plight of the TBE user, maybe Microsoft won’t make it, but what if everyone contacts Razer about producing one? Razer seems to be Microsoft’s gaming arm and may be amenable to producing one. I would suggest everyone contact Razer and put pressure on a smaller company to produce them.

  382. Will Have to contact Razer on this and maybe copy Google! I have two of these mice and if they ever sold them, I’d buy a lifetime supply! Would be great to turn on the machine for a year, sell a couple million then stop it again for awhile (kinda like Disney).

  383. I’ve been in computing since the 1970’s and first came across the tracker-ball in industry. I’ve tried many over the years and found that most make my wrist ache after a few minutes but the TBE was a relevation. It is accurate and a pleasure to use. Even after long periods, I still have no aches or strain. Goodbye to RSI! Judging from the price TBEs command on ebay, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m sure that if more people had the chance to use a TBE instead of a mouse, the mouse would end up where it belongs – in the waste bin. Shame on you Microsoft. You keep updating your software with un-necessary bells and whistles and planned obsolescence but ignore something with a real demand because is doesn’t suite your pig-headed business plan.

  384. In my continued search for information regarding my failed trackball explorer I found a site with pictures of repair procedures and with a little help from google translator I could follow the instructions. (copy and paste this url) http://torapo.com/tb/tbe.htm#sijiq1 or http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&ie=UTF8&u=http://torapo.com/tb/tbe.htm%23sijiq1 This is a superior illustrated guide. The google translation is somewhat amusing as are almost all machine translations but with the pictures I understand. All my failed trackballs started with usb cord problems. I bought the kennsington expert mice and find it better than most but not at the standard set by the MSTE. Most of the connections to my mobile laptop suffer cord problems from too much movement. Too frequent movement and flexing damages connecting cords. I have twice replaced the power cord connection and need to do so again. Now I hope to find the explorers (I had 2) in storage and attempt an informed repair. I wish I knew how to thank the author of the illustrated pages but I have no language skills in Japanese. I hope this is helpful.

  385. M$ won’t bring back a discontinued product; managers will never, ever admit they were wrong about ANYTHING. As above, they’d rather produce a product (like windows) that fails after a few years than something that you virtually never have to replace. I still have my original M$ trackball optical the one you move with your thumb, and it’s still going strong. Picked up a backup on ebay for $49 (lucky me) that I’m keeping n a box for when the current one dies. Always dissapointing when a company discontinues an excellent product because it’s not making enough money in relation to it’s market share peers (although, peers isn’t a very good word for this, because this trackball is waaay better than any of it’s competition).

  386. I’m in mourning. My trackball was put on life support yesterday after giving me 8 great years! The bottom button on the right side broke in two. I’ve taped the remaining piece in place, but it’s not working. But I’m still using it. I prefer a 3-button trackball to a fully operational ordinary mouse. I’ve tried the LogicTech trackball, but hated it. I’m actually considering forking out the $500 bucks at amazon to get a new one. Before doing so, can anyone tell me if it will work with Windows 7? Thanks!

  387. i’m left handed and most trackballs are designed for left minded people. the explorer was easy to use left handed. it finally broke and i’d like to get it fixed. no ther unit comes close.

  388. I think it’s great that this posting page has lasted as long as it has and it definately says something about the popularity of the mighty TBE. I’ve used my 2 (a series one and series 2) for almost 10 years now. Would not use anything else. If my current one dies out, it’s off to Ebay for me to have it repaired. (yes, look it up)
    Carp/Tunn has yet to find its way to MY wrists yet. Being a CAD operator for over 15 years, that says alot to the comfort and ergonomics of the TBE.
    For us to gripe in here for over 5 years on Microsofts unwillingness to reproduce such a fine product is just… well disgusting. Either start listening to your long-time consumers and remake this beast or turn the license over to someone that is willing to cater to the demanding market.

    and TO: Lisa Yes the trusty TBE will work on Win7. (32 and 64bit versions)

  389. I’m using right now the TO. Also had a TBE that was detroyed by accident, a shame I can’t replace it. Used to have one at work, the other at home, so could alternate movements.
    Anyone got feedback from Razer, or whoever?

  390. Heights of Microsoft’s idiotic strategies and their sadistic behavior – The World’s wrist/palm friendly mouse – Trackball Explorer (TBE) discontinued by Microsoft despite of several requests made by TBE lovers. As far as I remember Microsoft is such a company which never is on a back foot when it comes to money minting techniques if one has been observing their history. Surprisingly they don’t seem to be obliging a good product which has gained popularity over a period of time. This was initially launched $39.00 and in 2006 after they discontinued, the black market price has gone up to $700.00 which made TBE the most expensive mouse in the world. Either Microsoft should let the design sold to some Chinese company for a product which is at a point of extinction or they can manufacture the same TBE for a better price. A lot of companies like Logitech and Kensignton came up with similar mouses, but none of them are close enough to TBE precision and the comfort of any computer user. I wish this article should be shared with as many people (TBE lovers group) so that the dumb Microsoft big fat tummy bosses shake their dirt off from their rotten brains

  391. I’ve been using TBE for many years now.
    And some years later buy two for replacement.
    So now I’ve three, just time to keep alive for a moment

    But TBE is definitevely the BEST mouse for working
    I’ve programmed mine with a dozen of different softs and it is paradisiac to work (very quickly) with it.

    I don’t understand why this extraordinary mouse for hard programming and designers workers is discontinued.

    It is a commercial non sense

  392. Well I finally broke down and bought a Logitech M570. My two TBEs were wearing out in in multiple ways. Plus I decided I really should support Logitech’s trackball business since they are at least still making them!

    Of course I would prefer it be a finger-driven ball – but I actually started my trackball use with a Logitech Trackman – so the thumb-drive is familiar enough.

    The wireless works great, and it has all the buttons one needs.

    I actually was considering getting the new Logitech Touchpad – so I downloaded an app that allows my 7″ Galaxy tab to act as a touchpad. DEFINITELY not something I would recommend for professional use – the lack of tactile feedback makes it difficult to use – though gestures are nice.

  393. @Chris, I’ve also been moving to M570’s on new systems. It’s about closest it gets to TBE. On my main workstation I continue to use Kensington Expert Mouse with ErgoRest® articulating arm support I’ve mentioned here earlier – with such support that trackball is probably as close as it gets to optimal (large ball, forefinger control). Without ErgoRest support, however, that trackball is not pleasant to use.

  394. Yep – your recent post on the matter was a big part of why I have the M570 a chance – so thanks!

    I didn’t think I cared about wired vs. wireless – but I think that is probably my favorite thing about the change so far.

    Least favorite thing is having to move my fingers – with the TBE I could right-click, middle-click and left-click with my pinky, middle finger and thumb.

    Chris

  395. I have been using a trackball optical for along as i can remember, for cad work along side a tablet it spot on.
    Mine is the one with the ball on the LEFT hand side for thumb operation, its is starting to stick slighlty tried to clean it with all sorts but think i will just have to live with it. Hate standard mice

  396. Well, I decided on hand crafting the chassis on wood and use discrete internal electronics of another mouse. the only thing remaining is the ball itself, which needs to
    have the right weight, withstand the friction on bearing balls that holds it steady and be properly reflective to be accurate enough. Since Logitech and Gigabyte 800dpi boards along with optics are available, I am by no means bond to MS to resupply.

    Still, I would rather not having to copy the design, but it is for personal use anyway, so sue me if you would, but I won’t dish out $400 for a new one.

    Feels good to be an Engineer.

  397. @potis21 … with a prototype ready, you should look for a potential manufacturer. Perhaps yours would be the long-awaited successor to TBE! 🙂 Do you have a picture of it?

  398. I recently lost my last original trackball mouse in last weeks floods in Maryborough Queensland Australia.

    I searched years ago & found a spare but my Wife unfortunately dropped the newer one & I’ve been persevering with the older one with a ball which was becoming pitted, but still a great unit!

    I’m now going to have to search for something as comfortable to use & I know it will not be an easy search!

  399. @potis21

    If you use ceramic bearing they’ll most likely never wear out.

    I replaced the bearings in all of my TBE’s with Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) balls (the black ceramic ones). I got mine off ebay a pack of 20 for about $10 shipped (I just checked and you can get 100 for about $35 shipped). They’re cheaper and easier to find than Zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) (white balls). I’ve had them in for over a year with no visible signs of wear (steel replacements would flatten within a few months or so). The trackball also rolls much smoother and easier than before.

    For those interested, the balls in a TBE are 5/64″. I had the originals mic’d to be sure. Be sure to work in an area where you can easily find the balls if you drop one. If you have a TBE with the oval recess around the balls you can pop them out with an exacto blade, just be careful. Once they’re out hold the TBE sideways so that a hole is positioned at the bottom and carefully set a ball into place and press it on firmly (I used a screwdriver handle). The only way I’ve been able to extract the balls from TBE’s with no recesses is to take apart and carefully drill 1/32″ holes behind them and push them out with a pin. Fortunately this type of TBE is much pretty rare, and are assembled differently, and is much less delicate than the other type (components are held in with screws instead of delicate clips).

    I haven’t had any fall out, but I wouldn’t want to replace the balls too many times out of fear that the sockets would become enlarged, and since the ceramic balls last a ridiculously long time, I may only have to replace them once.

    Now to find a good way to repair broken buttons since they tend to get brittle when they get old.

    I can’t live without my TBE. I just can’t use anything else for more than a short time.

    If only MS would build a gaming TBE with the specs and features of the sidewinder x8 gaming mouse built in. That would be bliss!

  400. I think I have the answer for all the TBE fans out there. I’m just looking for funding to start manufacturing the new trackball but not sure where to start. The electronics are the latest out there in the market, the DPI capability is over 8000 DPI with 13 programmable buttons and macro capability. There’s a lot of goodies that come with this trackball, but most importantly it is ergonomically designed to be if not more comfortable than the TBE and it is an absolute stunning looking device.

    I had ten TBE’s until the last one died two years ago and I decided to take matters into my own hands and design and build a better trackball.

    Any suggestions and help with the funding would be much appreciated.

  401. @TBEF, I’m excited to see how trackball turns out! I would set it up as a Kickstarter project; grass-roots funding for a device like that would most likely work out very well.

  402. A few years ago I did a little research as why MS quit making the TBE. Somewhere I read that someone else had a patent on the design and MS didn’t want to pay the for the license to manufacture. I thing there may have been a lawsuit also.
    I have managed to keep several working for years and am about to try replacing the bearings for the first time.
    TBEFan your project would be very well received to a lot of people out here. Keep us in the loop and check on that patent.

  403. Please let us get a kickstarter going to make a replacement for the Explorer. Mine is barely holding on. When it does go I don’t know what I’ll do; I tried an M570 but I really can’t use a thumb ball. You could easily charge $75-$100 for these and people would buy them, provided the quality was good and any design changes you made worked out. Let’s get going!

  404. Anyone know if a source for Ruby Ball Bearings? In a fit of dramatic irony, just after I posted here one of my old metal bearings popped out and got lost in the carpet, and the others are worn almost all the way down. I need to replace them, but I can’t find anyone that sells ruby bearings in anything but huge quantities.

  405. @Void

    Grab some 5/64″ (2.0mm) Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) Ceramic Balls off ebay.
    They’ll last far longer than steel bearings.Mine are over a year, old with no sign of wear, but steel balls only lasted ~ 3 months or so before wearing flat.

  406. @TBEF I have no idea how to PM here. Make a quick site for your design and post it up. We can get a community going and get a jumpstart on the kickstarter.

  407. How do you get these balls out? I got replacements but I can’t get the old ones out. I don’;t want to drill into this thing, I’ll just end up destroying it by accident.

  408. @Void, I assure you this is not vaporware, I have spent almost $20K of my own money so far to get the unit to the stage where I need to manufacture it. Almost every manufacturing vendor I have contacted comes up with a cost between $300 – $400K to manufacture the first 2000 units where most of the cost will be in the manufacturing setup (molds, assembly line, QA, etc…)

  409. I had the opportunity to see TBEFan’s trackball design, and I quite like it! It really is a potential successor (and an upgrade!) to the venerable TBE. Insofar as the construction and the materials used would be of high quality and the component selection good (e.g. ceramic bearings instead of metal/plastic, sufficiently heavy weighed ball, non-flimsy switches, etc.), I think the TBE users would be happy with it.

    Considering the cost of the initial setup and need for the initial funding, I think Kickstarter might be the best way to go unless there are individual investors available.

  410. Then please by all means kickstarter it. My explorer is dying. I tried to the get the balls out and came close to breaking everything. It lives for now, but not very well with these completely flat bearings. Fortunately all the internal electronics are mostly ok for now, but every so often I get a random button click being missed, so it’s obviously only a matter of time before the mechanism breaks completely.

    I am seriously looking at ebay. I would much rather put my money toward your product than pay the outrageous ebay rates for a replacement that may not even be in much better shape. I wish I could see what you have planned, if for no other reason than to know whether to hold out for it or not, but I understand you not wanting to post any information until you are actually going for it. I just hope you go for it soon.

  411. I want in on the kickstarter as well… I’ve helped fund a few kickstarter projects already, and I would definitely back one that would give me an upgrade from the TBE. I managed to buy a few for $40 each at a computer show over 10 years ago, and I’ve only got one left.

    If a good replacement became available, I would buy at least 2, possibly 5+.

    If the kickstarter does happen, someome please post a link so I can back the project and get other people involved in backing it as well.

  412. Any word? My TBE is getting worse; I’m either going to have to switch to a mouse or spend a stupid amount on ebay pretty soon. Estimate another month if I am lucky at current rate of failure (I base this number more on my own endurance with the worsening situation than on any particular scientific measure). I need to know if it is worth holding out.

  413. Been a TBE user for 10yrs and its on its last leg. I have ALS/Lou Gerighs disease as of last October. No other mouse on the market allows me the ease of use like the TBE. I’ve tried them all, last purchase was the Rat 7, last month. Would of been alright back when I had full use of my hands but not now. @TBEF , I would buy 5 of yours right off the bat, for 100.00ea. if they as good as the tbe,

  414. I think we may have scared away @TBEF. Too much pressure. It will be great if it comes through, but we shouldn’t make the project the be-all and end-all of everything(tm).

  415. @Void, I can assure you I read every blog entry related to the TBE. I have been busy trying to secure private funding for the project and working out some details on the mechanics and part of the electronics. I am also in the process of working with a company that manufactures the ball. They have some interesting designs and could possibly allow for special limited editions of a ball with custom patterns and designs to be manufactured for a small fee. That’s just an idea!

    I would like to provide you guys with some more details on the new trackball. It can be used in wired or wireless mode. It has a System-On-Chip (SoC) microcontroller that is built around a 32-bit ARM Cortex CPU with 128KB flash + 16KB RAM and comes with an embedded transceiver that supports 2.4GHz or Bluetooth low energy operations. We will be utilizing 2.4GHz but you can mod it to operate with Bluetooth. This microcontroller has been specifically selected for the trackball as the development environment is open source therefore opening up the possibilities for users to easily mod their trackball. The unit itself has been designed to be user serviceable to allow you to open and modify it freely. I believe that if you allow a user to easily modify/repair their own peripherals it creates a sense of community as we have already seen what the TBE has done and that’s why we’re here.

    You will be able to store your software and game profiles on-board the trackball flash memory as well as easily export them via the trackball software. A profile creator is also in the works. Support for Windows and MAC will be standard. As for Linux, I’m open to any suggestions on how to make that happen.

    The trackball will have a high quality look and feel. The ball will illuminate via a halo ring that surrounds it. The illumination will only be active in wired mode. It has an integrated padded wrist and thumb rest.

    I am thinking about creating a landing page site for anyone who is interested in registering and supporting the project. However, any user that registers will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being granted access to the area of the site where you will be able to see the unit as it progresses through the development phases. Our timeframe to try and close on the private funding is by the end of this month. If our private funding venture does not succeed, I will organize a Kickstarter project shortly thereafter.

    This has been an experience for me. Manufacturing a product is not easy. A lot has been completed but a lot still remains to get us to the finish line.

    So with that I hope I have convinced you @Void I have not been scared away 🙂

    And thank you all for words of support. It really helps move us forward.

  416. @TBEF Thanks for the update! That is excellent news!! We all are excited to follow the progress, and when the time comes to buy, we’ll all flock to the purchase page!! 🙂

  417. @TBEF – It’s great to see you’re still on the project. I personally will have no problem signing an NDA or whatever’s needed to see the progress; I’m just looking forward to a change to “upgrade” before my last TBE dies.

    I’m sure you have enough to think about already, but I was curious – are there any thoughts on making a left-handed version? My wife is left-handed, and as the design half of our web development company, she’s very mouse-oriented when it comes to using the computer, but I haven’t been able to convince her to try the TBE because of the ergonomics.

  418. Hi Tristan – I actually do have plans to introduce the left-hand version. When that will happen will really depend on how successful the right-hand version will be to the general public.

  419. @TBEFan That’s good news! I almost brought that up in my post yesterday, and then I did some Googling to find out that the left-handed people account to about 10% of the population. There being a set-up cost for the mold and for the production line, there are obvious cost considerations… but considering the target market, offering a left-handed version also has a good deal of PR value. I think it is a good plan to introduce the left-handed version down the line.

  420. We’ve overwhelmed the comment per page limit on wordpress. We really need a new page for this. I have no issue signing an NDA.

    I was worried for a minute when you started talking Wi-Fi options because wireless is a big no for lab environments (with what we do, a wireless connection will completely swamp our sensors). Then you mentioned an illuminated ring when it’s wired up, so I assume it’s dual mode, which is great. Just be sure you can definitively turn off the wireless if you need to, or it will not be usable in environments like my job (still get some for home though).

  421. @Void, the wireless functionality will automatically turn off when the USB cable is connected. A separate Wifi on/off switch is also available.

  422. Any updates on a “backer forum”? It appears that the buttons on my TBE are beginning to lose responsiveness after all this time; I really don’t want to have to go back to a basic mouse, and if this project is a viable alternative, I don’t want to waste money on another trackball while I wait.

    Side thought: This site really needs to migrate to Disqus comments.

  423. I have a Microsoft PN X08-70386 that I just love, but the tracking ball has become harder to move, so I am trying to find a new one. What is the difference between the PN X05-87475 and the PN X08-70386. I do have the Logitech TrackMan Wheel mouse and I like it, but the ball is smaller in diameter and thus requires more spins than the Microsoft. Thank you.

  424. I too work in a secure environment and wireless device of any type are not allowed. I have searched for a second hand one and these online pirates are asking upto £350 ($500+) – come on Microsoft.

  425. @Karen Lipney one is probably just a later production run than the other. they seem to be the same model. This page is about the Trackball Explorer (finger operated), not the Trackman (thumb operated). Logitech makes the perfectly adequate M570 thumb operated trackball. It’s finger operated ones that are completely absent, prompting @TBEFan to go make one himself.

    Speaking of, any word @TBEFan? My TBE has failed (thumb buttons gave out), so I am using a regular mouse right now, to my continuing hand pain. Should I go to eBay?

    1. Sorry, I misunderstood about which tracking ball mouse was being discussed. I much prefer the thumb operated tracker (and so does the Microsoft representative I spoke with). The Logitech M570 (nor the earlier models) is as good because the thumball is smaller on the Logitechs requiring more movement of the thumb. Since I’m not considering the finger tracker, I’ll sign off.

  426. Came across this site by accident. My TBE is still working, but the thumb buttons are getting worn out. It would be awesome to get an upgraded TBE! I bought mine years ago at a local Fry’s, have been wishing for a while that I had bought their remaining 4.
    Not familiar with kickstart, but interested.

  427. I have one and use it daily. . .
    It was working well until I updated the Microsoft keyboard and mouse software recently… now the buttons no longer work properly.
    Any ideas on what driver I might look for on my computer?
    I know it is there – it worked before… (gee whiz)

    Of course, I can find any driver download for it… MS indicates the most recent driver for the mouse has been downloaded and installed… (sigh)

  428. I think we are starting to see a case of Osborne Effect slipping into people’s minds. Keep in mind that @TBEFan is currently doing this solo and for the love of the product. Until such time as he actually opens up orders or donations, none of us have any right to constantly bug him. It will be ready if and when it is ready.

  429. Hi Everyone,

    I know many of you are waiting to hear the latest on the new trackball, so here are some updates.

    I have spent the last month and a half in pursuit of some private investors; however I was not successful in securing a private backer with investment terms that were fair to the amount of effort that has already gone into this product.

    Based on this outcome I will be setting up a Kickstarter project. In the meantime, I have hired a designer to setup a landing page website which should be ready real soon where all that are interested can register, sign an NDA and be granted access to view the new trackball. I must admit that I am a little hesitant to list the project on Kickstarter as there have already been two trackball projects that failed to receive funding, although those projects were nothing in comparison to what I have developed.

    In addition, I am working with an industrial designer to finalize some internal design tweaks for the battery compartment, LED channels, and trackball saddle.

    I am also looking for an electronics Engineer to design the main PCB board based on the electronic schematics of the trackball.

    Going back to the website, I will have a suggestion area to take input that may be taken into consideration in the final development of the trackball. If you guys have any other ideas to what you would like to see on the website let me know.

    1. Good to hear from you @TBEFan! Once you’ve got the Kickstarter up and running, I’ll be doing everything I can to get people involved in the funding.

      I’m a web developer myself (threetenseven[dot]com), so I’ll probably have suggestions on how to improve the site once you’ve got it up and running.

      Is there a better way to communicate with you? I’d love to provide whatever help I can, but communicating through these comments is very unproductive.

    2. TBEFan. . .
      it appears this is quite the project for you.
      For some reason, I thought you were building these one or two at a time in your basement (grin). . .

      I certainly didn’t expect that you’d begin mass producing these things for sale worldwide (wink). . .

      I’ll do what I can from where I am with what I have to help the project along. . .

      Wish all of us luck. . .

  430. If you need base level hardware coding or any kind of GUI work for the computer side interface, I may be able to help. I have done a lot of work in system drivers and interfacing.

  431. I too am an avid user of the TBE. Before ever trying out a trackball, they seemed necessary to me, but after using one and giving it a good week or too, I could never go back to a regular mouse (no matter how high quality it was) I used a Logitech Marble mouse (which is very decent for about 4 years), then went shopping for a new Trackball. I wanted preferably, finger tip control, scroll wheel, ergonomic, extra buttons.. and TBE fit the bill, much better than any thing else.

    @TBEFan
    I believe that given a good pitch, your custom trackball would fund very easily via Kickstarter. There’s a certain lack for quality trackballs and smart design and there is a decent amount of trackball users that seek out TBE, Even pay 100’s for refurb and around $400-$600 for the ultra rare ‘new’ TBE. There are even several services on Ebay that offer conditioning and refurb for the TBE from $50-$80. There’s also a specific lack of comprehensive trackball products out there.. and most of them aren’t necessarily state of the art nor smart.

  432. Too many people see the huge kickstarters that make hundreds of thousands and think whatever their product is can do the same because ‘of course people want it’. If you look at the average, though, most kickstarters that make it BARELY make it, and the ones that get that have sensible goals. Be sure to set a sensible goal, not too big but with bonus rewards so you CAN get more if you get attention, but can get what you need regardless. The key to kickstarter is to start reasonably, rather than shooting straight for the moon. Always remember that if you don’t hit the target, you get nothing, but if you overshoot, you get everything.

  433. I recently came across this site. Just wanted to let you know I’ll give some support whenever you open up a kickstarter. I love the TBE. Let us know when you get that web page up too!

  434. Hi Everyone,

    Here’s another update on the trackball project.

    As I mentioned before, I have engaged the graphics designer for the landing page and quite honestly he’s waiting for me to provide feedback for the design layouts he has delivered. I have been swamped for the past three weeks with my day job. I will have the feedback sent to him by the end of the week so we can complete and open up the website. As for the industrial designer, that part of the project is moving along and I should have some news for you next week. She’s working on implementing the tweaks to the trackball shell based on the feedback we received from InjectionWorks so that the shape will be moldable, that is, when the mold is manufactured and the plastic is injected into it, the final plastic shell will easily be separated from the metal/aluminum mold without causing any damage or cracks on the plastic. This is a crucial stage in the design. She is also laying out the internal cavity design to house the electronics PCB boards, battery compartment, on/off switches, and USB Wi-Fi transceiver placeholder.

    The electronics Engineering firm I hired came back to me last week and decided they will not be able to work on my project due to their existing project time constraints. That was a bit disappointing as now I’m back to searching for an Engineering firm to develop the electronics. The electronic schematics are 90% complete but I just can’t seem to find a firm willing to take up this small project. Oh well, my search goes on.

    @Void, thanks for the offer to help with the low level hardware coding. Please PM me and we can get the ball rolling there.

  435. @TBEFan, thanks for the update!! It’s exciting to hear that the TBE replacement (and more! :)) is moving along! We all are excited to see the site when it opens up, and to join the Kickstarter project when it’s ready to launch!

  436. Hi everyone,

    Good news, the industrial designer completed the crucial part of the trackball shell and has confirmed it is now mechanically correct and can be molded. That means we can move ahead with hiring a mold maker to create the cast metal mold for the injection molding process. A 3D print of the trackball shell will be created before hand.

    A stress analysis and test will be performed this week to identify any structural weaknesses in the shell.

    The website is moving along and nearing completion.

    I’ll post another update next week.

  437. OMG!! Just passing by, and found this project on hand! I am also an avid TBE user, unfortunately I had to spend the last 9 years on Logitec and Kensington. Well I spent six months last year hunting down a few TBEs in ok condition, unboxing it was so exciting, its one unique experience.

    While I was hunting down TBE, I was also looking for an Ikea JERKER desk, and found a Shrine site for it. JERKER fans are having the same frustration experience with IKEA, not being able to revive a great consumer product. The JERKER is popular because one can meticulously customize a computer desk that can literally take up quite a few pieces of hardware, while providing some ergonomics.

    Going through photos of these JERKER users, guess what!? You ALWAYS see a natural keyboard AND a TBE on the JERKER!!!! Its like a perfect trio for all 90s ergonomic junkies including me of course! Do you have any experience of using the other two products? (this message was of course typed comfortably on the Ergon4000 KB)…

    And TBEFan, please add my email to any updates for kick-starting… lets try to make this work… (and my partners thought I was crazy with my TBE hunt… )

  438. Any word @TBEFan? I got my TBE back up enough to use it for non-gaming purposes (the digitizer glitches too much for time sensitive input, but it still gives my hand a break from using my mouse), but a real replacement would be really good soon. Still hoping for a kickstarter/indiegogo/something else to get this off the ground soon

    I can’t figure out anyplace on this site with a PM function. No idea how to do that.

  439. I’m glad I found this thread. I’ve been a long time TBE user and I’m sad to say that I just broke one of my two 🙁 I’d be eager to find a worthwhile replacement.

  440. Though this is an old thread, I feel I must help people give their valuable and much loves TBE’s new life.

    Replace the bearings with ceramic ball bearings and you’ll be extremely happy. They’re cheap on ebay & they’ll last at least a year before needing to be replaced again (chrome steel bearings lasted me around 3 months before developing flat spots).

    I replaced the bearings in all of my TBE’s with Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) balls (the black ceramic ones). I got mine off ebay a pack of 20 for about $10 shipped (I just checked and you can get 100 for about $35 shipped). They’re cheaper and easier to find than Zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) (white balls). I’ve had them in for over a year with no visible signs of wear (steel replacements would flatten within a few months or so). The trackball also rolls much smoother and easier than before.

    For those interested, the balls in a TBE are 5/64″. I had the originals mic’d to be sure. Be sure to work in an area where you can easily find the balls if you drop one. If you have a TBE with the oval recess around the balls you can pop them out with an exacto blade, just be careful. Once they’re out hold the TBE sideways so that a hole is positioned at the bottom and carefully set a ball into place and press it on firmly (I used a screwdriver handle). The only way I’ve been able to extract the balls from TBE’s with no recesses is to take apart and carefully drill 1/32″ holes behind them and push them out with a pin. Fortunately this type of TBE is a bit more rare (currently using 2 of these (out of 6)), and are assembled differently, though the internals are much less delicate than the other type (components are held in with screws instead of delicate clips).

    I haven’t had any fall out, but I wouldn’t want to replace the balls too many times out of fear that the sockets would become enlarged, and since the ceramic balls last a long time, I may only have to replace them once a year.

    Here’s a site showing the process (sure wish I’d known about it before I fixed my TBE):

    <a href=”http://torapo.com/trackball/microsoft/trackball-explorer.htm

    Translated link:

    <a href=”http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftorapo.com%2Ftrackball%2Fmicrosoft%2Ftrackball-explorer.htm&act=url

    I’ve also read that compressed air can be used to pop out the bearings without all the hassle, though I’ve not tried this method myself.

    Now to find a good way to repair broken buttons since they tend to get brittle when they get old.

  441. Crap, I messed up the link tags (a preview before posting sure would be helpful).

    <a href=”http://torapo.com/trackball/microsoft/trackball-explorer.htm

    <a href=”http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftorapo.com%2Ftrackball%2Fmicrosoft%2Ftrackball-explorer.htm&act=url

    And just in case I’ve messed them up again…

    Here’s a site showing the process (sure wish I’d known about it before I fixed my TBE):

    http://torapo.com/trackball/microsoft/trackball-explorer.htm

    Translated link:

    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftorapo.com%2Ftrackball%2Fmicrosoft%2Ftrackball-explorer.htm&act=url

  442. JB, thanks for that info! I’ll try to find time to rework the blog template sometime in the near future so that the commenting system. 🙂

  443. Well, I’m pretty miffed!

    I finally got myself one of the famed Trackball Explorers on eBay for rather a steep price, hunted down white ceramic bearings and replaced the standard steel ones. So far so good, smooth ball action etc.

    But now the software side of the equation fails! The mouse pointer movement is slanted so that moving the ball in what I want to be the horizontal and vertical direction, it moves somewhat diagonally. I remembered that IntelliPoint used to have a feature to adjust orientation (Logitech’s SetPoint still has this), but the fools at MS removed this feature starting with IntelliPoint 5. It so happens that I’m on Windows 7, which refused to install IntelliPoint 4.x due to incompatibilities. I also looked at some hacks / little progr