Mouse without Borders – My experiences on Windows 8 CP


I just thought I’d share my observations as I’ve been using Mouse without Borders (what is that?) on Win8 CP since the day it came out. I’ve used this at work on a daily basis, so I’ve logged MANY hours of experience with this setup.

So what is my setup? I have three systems side-by-side. My “host” (where my keyboard and mouse are plugged into) is a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine (this is my primary workstation that runs Hyper-V with several VMs that I RDP into). To my left is an old Vista-based workstation that is there for supporting a legacy application of ours (for only one more month – yay!). Then to the right is my PDC laptop (what’s a PDC laptop?), which has a2-point resistive touchscreen. I’m currently running v2.1.1.1112 of Mouse without Borders on a wired network.

For the most part, this works well. Mouse, keyboard, and copy/paste of text (I don’t know about files – I never use that feature) all work well, when they work. However, there are some non-minor issues. Just to share with you my experiences:

  1. Whenever my mouse enters the Win8 system, I can never simply move my mouse out of the Win8 system. Instead, I must use the hotkey to switch to a specific other system. This is with “Easy Mouse” enabled in MWB. I have tried to disable “Easy Mouse” and even then, holding CTRL as I move across screens still doesn’t work. This forces me back to my CTRL+ALT+F1 hotkey combo that I have setup to go to specific workstations – the hotkey works perfectly in both directions. (Not sure who to blame on this one – a tweak to MWB will probably fix this.)

    UPDATE: I’ve discovered that if you check the “Move mouse relatively” checkbox on the host, this problem goes away. This may or may not be a problem for you. Personally, I don’t like the mouse behavior with this checked. But still, this sounds like it’s something that MWB can easily fix.

  2. Approximately half of the time, MWB doesn’t work on the login screen but does once I login. I usually have my screen rotated so the keyboard and touchpad are inaccessible so this forces me to use the touchscreen to login. I think this is an inadequacy in MWB that needs to be fixed.

    UPDATE: I’ve discovered that if I lock my Win8 box by hitting [START] and then clicking on my avatar in the top-right corner and then clicking Lock, then I can usually (85% of the time) unlock my Win8 machine with my kb/mouse.

  3. (continued from 2) Of the times that I have to use the touchscreen to login, only half of the time does the new onscreen keyboard work. The other half of the time, I have to use the accessibility onscreen keyboard (the one that Windows Vista and Windows 7 had). Why? No clue. But I notice that when it’s in this mode, when I use my touchscreen that it moves the mouse cursor around where I’m tapping instead of giving me the little bubble animation to show my touches. I think this is a Win8 bug, and a pretty bad one. If I didn’t have that accessibility button on the login screen, if this were a tablet without a physical keyboard, I would be kinda screwed!
  4. It seems that often (maybe twice a day) that when I lock my machines, MWB totally disconnects from the server on the Win 8 machine. I rarely see this from the Vista machine (maybe once a week). When this happens, CTRL+ALT+R rarely helps. Closing and restarting the host’s instance of MWB sometimes fixes this. More often than not, I end up rebooting my Win8 box to fix this. I have no clue who’s “fault” this is.

One more issue to mention: Many people seem to have installation difficulties with Mouse without Borders because it depends on .NET 2.0. That said, I personally didn’t experience these troubles. I’m not sure if it was MWB or something else but my experience of the bootstrap installer automatically installing .NET 2.0 for me was a pleasant experience for the most part. It was kinda slow but it “just worked” and I had to do nothing special to get it to work. I don’t know what I did differently but I did want to share this. If you run into that problem and need help, check out this blog post by Bruce Cowper.

All in all, while there are a lot of fairly major issues, MWB is still worth using. The problems tend to only be problematic for just a minute and, fortunately, it’s never when I’m in the middle of something but is always as I’m about to start something. Other than my first point (which I’ve learned to live with), if these problems randomly crept up while I was actively using MWB, I probably would have gone back to Synergy by now. But since the major annoyances tend to be at the time when I’m logging in, a slight delay isn’t so bad. That said, it’s still fairly annoying and I’d like to see these scenarios work much better!

3 Comments

  1. Comment by Josh on March 14, 2012 11:19 am

    I switched to ShareMouse. It works with Mac and Windows and has much better monitor adjustment.

  2. Comment by Shane Milton on March 14, 2012 11:36 am

    @Josh:

    Are there any *gotchas* in Windows 8 with ShareMouse at this time?

  3. Comment by Ryan Clarke on March 22, 2013 10:06 am

    I use Mouse Without Borders daily at work and I used to have some problems but I haven’t experienced them in a while. I don’t know if it was an update or something. I think it was mostly a network thing to be honest. Sometimes our network is wonky.

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