Microsoft’s “Mouse without Borders”

20Aug12

In the past I’ve had multiple computers setup in my office, and I wanted to share the mouse and keyboard between them.  I’ve used Synergy and Input Director in the past with mixed results.  At the time I tried it, Synergy just didn’t work well with Windows 7 and was a bit of a pain to configure.  Input Director worked well and made configuration a little easier, but I still had occasional issues when first booting due to DNS issues.  It’s been a while since I’ve used either, though, since I stopped using a second computer.

Last week I installed Windows 8 on a second machine to get a clean setup and play with Windows 8 and the Office 2013 preview.  I also wanted to be able to have quick access to a separate Exchange account and my on premise Lync which we use as our phone system.

imageOnce again, I found myself wanting to share my mouse and keyboard between computers.  That’s when I found out about Mouse without Borders on lifehacker.  It’s actually a project resulting from The Garage within Microsoft.

UPDATE: Use the “Download the latest version” link at the support site to download.  The latest versions have fixes specifically for Windows 8 including fixing Alt+Tab in a Win8 machine.

Since I wasn’t going to need the cross-platform support that Synergy would provide I though I’d give Mouse without Borders a try.

It installed painlessly on Windows 7, then asked if I had already installed it on the computer I wanted to share with.  When I clicked No, it gave me a security code and the computer’s name to be entered on the second computer.

The Windows 8 install wasn’t so painless.  When I first ran the installer, it told me I needed .NET Framework 2.0.  When I clicked the “Get .NET 2.0” button, I was taken to a “page not found” error page on Microsoft’s website.  After a quick search in Bing, I still didn’t find an installer.  Then I tried installing .NET Framework 3.5 through Windows Features, which includes 2.0, but I got an error saying files couldn’t be downloaded from Windows Update.  (It ended up being an issue caused by us using WSUS.  I just installed from the Win8 DVD with the command line.)

After getting the .NET framework lined out, installing and linking up with my Win7 machine was easy.  It allowed me to select the order of computers and gave me plenty of options.  The nicest part was it just worked, though, and I was able to immediately start using a single keyboard and mouse across the 2 computers.  I’ll have to wait and see if I ever have any DNS/DHCP issues which will keep them from linking like I experienced with Input Director.

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3 Responses to “Microsoft’s “Mouse without Borders””

  1. Thanks Andy – I’m running it across a couple Windows 8 machines now based on your updated link to the latest and it is working well. :)

  2. I have a very similar setup, and after having a few issues with Input Director I found Mouse without Borders. So far (1 day) it has been great. One issue, which was also present with Input Director on Win 8: no Alt-Tab on ‘slave’ computer. Are you seeing the same issue?

    Input Director – Master and Slave don’t ‘see’ each other, only happens once every few days, but when it happens it can’t be fixed, doesn’t clear itself up after start/stop/service nor restart of both machines.

    • Hey Chris, I did have the same issue with the alt-tab not working in Windows 8. I found on the Mouse without Borders support site a link to download newer versions that resolve this, though.
      Support site: https://getsatisfaction.com/mouse_without_borders
      Latest versions: https://getsatisfaction.com/mouse_without_borders/topics/latest_versions-16lup1

      They’ve added version 2.1.2.0801. You will have to uninstall the old version before installing the newer version. I also had to restart Mouse without Borders after installing the new version, but it was well worth it for alt-tab. :D There are also a few other nice changes, so I’d recommend reading through the Latest versions.

      As far as your Input Director issue, I had the same problem. For me the cause was getting a new IP address when booting on one computer, while the other computer picked up a different cached IP from the DNS server. I can’t remember if I ended up making changes on the DNS or DHCP servers or just used ipconfig/flushdns a lot. Either way it was not a user friendly experience. Hopefully Mouse without Borders behaves a bit better.



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