A little history lesson is in order for you young fellas who think of Microsoft as little more than a software juggernaut. In truth, the rowdy bunch from Redmond have been kicking out hardware products for nearly three decades, starting with the formation of "Microsoft Hardware" back in 1982. In the 1990s, Microsoft began catering to gamers with the introduction of the original Sidewinder Game Pad, and the Sidewinder brand would be used to market a series of gamepads, joysticks, driving wheels, and even a voice chat device before the Sidewinder name was retired in 2003.
Four years later, Microsoft revived the Sidewinder brand, first with a Sidewinder Mouse and then with the Sidewinder X6 in 2008. Fast forward to today and the X6 remains Microsoft's flagship keyboard for gamers. With a boatload of macros, backlit keys, a detachable numpad, and several other features, the X6 continues to win accolades and draw gamers looking for a serious plank. But two years (going on three) is an eternity in tech land. Is the X6 still worth consideration? Give us your mouse clicks, and we'll give you the answer.
If you're looking for a detailed look at the packaging, you're on the wrong sites folks. Like the Internet, we're serious business here, and unless there's something seriously reprehensible going on with the way a product is packaged, then we could give two licks about the way it's shipped.
What we do care about are the contents, at least when applicable. Normally we wouldn't expend any keystrokes going over the product filler included with a keyboard, but the driver disc is notable for a couple reasons here. First of all, the driver disc ships with an old version of Microsoft's IntelliType software, which you'll need to install to take full advantage of the X6's full feature-set.
And secondly, Microsoft makes it crystal clear that you're to install the software before plugging in your keyboard by wrapping the USB connector with a warning label. We found the reverse to be true with Windows 7 in 64-bit form. When we followed the instructions to a T, the detachable numpad refused to switch to macro mode (more on this feature later). The solution? Uninstall the software and then reinstall with the X6 already plugged into your PC. To rule out user error, we hooked the keyboard up to a second PC, also running Windows 7 64-bit, and installed the software afterward and it worked like a charm.
On a related note, you can grab the latest drivers for the X6 (and other Microsoft mouse and keyboard products) from here.