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Encyclopedia > Microsoft SideWinder
First-generation Microsoft SideWinder gamepad
First-generation Microsoft SideWinder gamepad

Microsoft SideWinder is the general name given to the family of digital game controllers developed by Microsoft for PCs. Although intended only for use with Microsoft Windows, Microsoft SideWinder game controllers can also be used with Apple's Mac OS X and Linux (or any Unix with an x86 version of X11 version 2.1.xx or newer). Microsoft Sidewinder game controller, scan by wS for wikipedia photo: Microsoft logo: This is a copyrighted and/or trademarked logo. ... Microsoft Sidewinder game controller, scan by wS for wikipedia photo: Microsoft logo: This is a copyrighted and/or trademarked logo. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... A personal computer (PC) is a computer whose price, size, and capabilities make it useful for individuals. ... Windows redirects here. ... Apple Inc. ... Mac OS X (IPA: ) is a line of graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. ... This article is about operating systems that use the Linux kernel. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... GNOME 2. ...

The SideWinder describes many types of Microsoft's PC game controllers including joysticks, gamepads and steering wheels. The several types of joysticks were made, including the Force Feedback 2, the 3D Pro, and the regular SideWinder joystick. The several types of gamepads were also made, such as the original game port version, a plug-and-play game port version, and the USB version. Steering wheels are the Precision Racing Wheel and the Force Feedback Wheel variants which include throttle and brake pedals. Joystick elements: 1. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A PCI based soundcard with a DA-15 connector The game port is the traditional connection for video game input devices on an x86-based PCs. ... Plug and Play is a term used in the computer field to describe a computers ability to have new devices, normally peripherals, added to it without having to restart the computer. ... A USB Series “A” plug, the most common USB plug Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices. ...

The family also includes some more exotic devices such as the SideWinder Game Voice system and the SideWinder Strategic Commander.

The SideWinder family of products was discontinued by Microsoft in 2003, citing poor sales. The company has since re-entered the gaming hardware market, in hopes of designing a standardized gamepad for Windows Vista, the result of which is a wired USB variant of the Xbox 360 controller that is compatible with home PCs. Windows Vista is a line of graphical operating systems used on personal computers, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, Tablet PCs, and media centers. ... The Xbox 360 game console, developed by Microsoft, features a number of first-party components and accessories. ...

In August 2007, Microsoft announced they were relaunching the SideWinder line of gaming peripherals, starting with the SideWinder Mouse. The mouse was given an MSRP of $80 and a launch date of October 2007.


Compatibility Issues

Even a cursory analysis of relevant Internet forums suggests that the SideWinder family of products may be the victim of planned obselesence. As an example, it was difficult to make the Force Feedback Pro function with Windows XP and impossible to attain any significant functionality with computers using Windows Vista. Microsoft has decided to stop supporting the hardware, much of which was less than a decade old at the time their support ended. Ironically, as of June 2007, the less expensive, though considerably less sophisticated Sidewinder Precision Pro continued to enjoy plug and play functionality with current operating systems.


The original Microsoft SideWinder gamepad had a digital directional pad, six fire buttons, two trigger buttons, and a "Mode" and "Start" button. The original gameport version had a pass-through, so additional joypads or joysticks could be used without unplugging the SideWinder, and also allowed the connection of up to four SideWinder gamepads working simultaneously. Newer USB versions of the SideWinder gamepad have a round digital directional pad instead of the more traditional cross-shaped directional pad, and lack the mode button. The Microsoft SideWinder is the precursor of the original XBOX controllers, and it's button layout is notoriously similar to that of the Sega Saturn controller, which was released over the same time period. It has been suggested that Arcade Racer Joystick be merged into this article or section. ...

3D Pro

As Microsoft's first SideWinder joystick, the 3D Pro was responsible for setting the overall design as seen in all of Microsoft's future joysticks. Designed as a gaming-neutral joystick, rather than a specialized joystick for use with realistic combat flight simulators, the 3D Pro was built with a functional, but low-key geometric design. Intended to rival the other sticks from the time, the 3D Pro included 8 buttons - 4 on the base, 4 on the stick - an 8-way hat switch, a slider-based throttle, and the stick itself was twistable for Z/rudder/spin control. By going with a geometric design however, it meant the 3D Pro lacked an effective adherence ergonomic principles, making it unsuitable for long gaming sessions for some users.

Electronically, the 3D Pro used a digital/analog hybrid design, that was intended to correct the outstanding flaws in traditional analog joysticks, such as drift and CPU overhead by using a digital/optical tracking mechanism to keep perfect track of the joystick, and a digital communication method over the analog gameport[1]. However, this digital mode required software support, and could not be used with many DOS games at the time (MechWarrior 2 being the only major exception), as most software and gameports were built completely around an analog design. The game port is the traditional connection for video game input devices on an x86-based PCs. ...

Additionally, some soundcard gameports, and so-called accelerated game-ports - which attempted to resolve CPU overhead issues presented by polling the gameport directly themselves - such as those produced by Gravis, wouldn't always be able to handle the stick in digital mode.

Fortunately, the 3D Pro had a unique feature in that it could fall-back to an 'analog emulation' mode, where it could emulate either a CH lightstick Pro or a Thrustmaster FCS (Selectable by a switch on the base), in environments where the digital mode wouldn't work. In this mode, manual calibration was required, the four base-buttons no longer function and, the joystick would function essentially like a CH Flightstick Pro or Thrustmaster FCS depending on the mode selector switch.

However, as PCs became faster, the digital mode would be less and less reliable, and on modern PCs most 3D Pro owners can only run in analog mode. Fortunately, the 3D Pro was popular enough to spawn a successor, the Precision Pro, which was a USB device and, while it didn't work in DOS at all, was far more reliable under Windows despite quality issues.

The joystick was widely praised in its inception and was one of the few joysticks with multiple buttons that didn't require a keyboard pass-through. The stick was espescially popular with MechWarrior and Descent players as it was one of the few multi-button joysticks supported by the games natively.

The joystick's popularity has created a small die-hard following, with many people still holding onto them despite their age. This resulted in the creation of an USB adaptor for the 3D Pro[2].

Precision Pro

Learning from their past mistakes, Microsoft came up with the SideWinder Precision Pro, correcting the ergonomic issues while fixing some of the electrical issues from the 3D Pro and adding some new features. Ditching the geometric design, the Precision Pro dumped the 3D Pro's stick for one far more ergonomic, correcting the biggest complaint about the original 3D Pro. Microsoft also gave the rest of the Precision Pro a more rounded design, replacing the rectangular base buttons with more rounded buttons, the slider-based throttle with a wheel-based throttle, and the base itself was made more rounded. The Precision Pro also added a shift button to the base, doubling the number of possible button combinations.

For its electronics, the Precision Pro featured a refined hybrid system, resolving some of the hardware compatibility issues with the 3D Pro. However, with the widespread introduction of USB in consumer computers shortly after the Precision Pro was released, Microsoft also created a USB converter for the Precision Pros; doing this bypassed the problems with the analog gameport entirely and as a result became the true solution to the electrical problems. However, due to a flaw in the design of the Precision Pro, in rare cases the stick would build up a static charge in its electronics and require either a complex process to discharge that was not always successful, or simply needed to stay unpowered for a number of hours to slowly discharge on its own[1]. Note: USB may also mean upper sideband in radio. ...

Thanks to the timing of the launch of the Precision Pro to coincide with the widespread launch of USB along the ergonomic corrections and rarity of the static charge problem, the Precision Pro saw a much higher sales volume and review scores than the earlier 3D Pro.

Force Feedback Pro

With the launch of the Precision Pro, Microsoft decided to also enter the fray of force feedback joysticks, with the introduction of the Force Feedback Pro. Built on the design of the Precision Pro, the Force Feedback Pro differed only in the inclusion of motors for the force feedback effects, and the lack of USB compatibility. Due to the inclusion of the motors, the Force Feedback Pro was significantly larger and heavier than the Precision Pro, making it easy to differentiate between the two.

Precision 2

The basis of Microsoft's last generation of SideWinder joysticks, the Precision 2 design was a further refinement of the previous Precision Pro. Compared to the Precision Pro, the Precision 2 dropped the Pro's shift button, replaced the throttle wheel with a more traditional lever, and rearranged the face buttons on the stick in to a symmetric design. The Precision 2 also dropped all gameport compatibility by only shipping in a USB version, and was slightly smaller and lighter than the Pro. Unfortunately, in spite of being Microsoft's 2nd-generation USB controller, the Precision 2 in particular seemed to suffer more from the USB SideWinder's long-standing static buildup problem than the original Precision Pro.

Force Feedback 2

Along with replacing the Precision Pro with a new design, the Force Feedback Pro was replaced with a Precision 2 derivative, the Force Feedback 2. Compared to the Force Feedback Pro and the Precision 2, nothing new was added to the Force Feedback 2 that wasn't added to the Precision 2, in fact the shift button was taken away. The overall size and weight difference was not so great with the use of smaller motors. This joystick came in two varieties: one version with a silver trigger, and an updated version with a translucent red trigger. One of the main ideas in the Force Feedback 2 was the removal of the power brick.


Using the Precision 2 design once again, Microsoft introduced a value-oriented SideWinder joystick, simply called the SideWinder Joystick. In spite of its value designation, the SideWinder Joystick was functionally nearly the same as the Precision 2. The only feature dropped was the 8-way hat switch, otherwise the differences were cosmetic, including shrinking the base, moving the throttle to the front of the base, and replacing 2 of the rounded buttons on the stick with more rectangular buttons.

Force Feedback Wheel

The Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel is a steering wheel controller for sim racing. It was the first wheel controller to contain force feedback. A modern road cars steering wheel Steering wheels from different periods A steering wheel is a type of steering control used in most modern land vehicles, including all mass-production automobiles. ... Sim (simulated) racing is the collective term for computer racing games which attempt to accurately simulate race driving, complete with real-world variables such as fuel usage, damage, tire wear and grip, and suspension settings. ...

Strategic Commander

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

The Strategic Commander is a complement to the joystick (or mouse) for some first person shooters, and Real time strategy games. It was not a very popular controller, most likely due to its $70 price tag. With its 6 buttons, and 3 shift buttons 24 different button presses are possible (6 buttons natural, 6 per shift key). It also has a switch to allow for 3 profiles, allowing for up to 12 commands per key to be assigned, or 72 in total. They are still available at some retailers and on eBay. A review in German can be found here. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

The Strategic Commander is a highly ergonomic device, and resembles a large mouse in shape, contoured for the left hand. It has an upper section attached to a base. On the upper section, the programmable buttons mentioned above are located near the tips of the pointer, middle and ring fingers for quick access. Three buttons are located near the thumb in an arc.

A unique feature of the device is that the upper section is also a multi-axis motion controller. It allows motion in the X and Y axis of the horizontal plane (corresponding to forward, backwards, left and right slew) and also clockwise and counter-clockwise twist. This made it an ideal companion for FPS and similar games; because you can aim weapons or look up and down with the right hand while simultaneously slewing position with the left hand, and change weapons etc. with the left finger buttons.

Software was included for the device to provide hotkeys for a number of (then popular) games. The buttons are also programmable, allowing the device to be used with other games and applications. For example, one interesting application developed at Carnegie Mellon used the device as a peripheral for navigating massive social network maps. Hotkeys are the keys on a keyboard that are used in conjunction with the function (Fn) key. ... Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ... A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of relations, such as values, visions, idea, financial exchange, friends, kinship, dislike, trade, web links, sexual relations, disease transmission (epidemiology), or airline routes. ...

Game Voice

The Game Voice is a voice chat device that allowed the gamer to rapidly coordinate actions in a multiplayer game by speaking directly to individual teammates or the entire team. It also functioned as a voice command device that allowed commands in the game to be executed quickly. Voice chat is a modern form of communication used on the Internet. ... A voice command device is a device controlled by means of the human voice. ...

The Game Voice was shaped like a hockey puck, with a series of four dedicated channel buttons, a mute button, a dedicated voice-command button, and two buttons allowing the user to communicate with either just their team mates, or with everyone in a game. The puck also had its own volume control, and a switch that would allow the user to change from using their external speakers to just using the headset.

An included headset plugged into the puck, while the puck had audio connections for the computer's sound card and external speakers, and a USB connector that drove the lighted buttons on the puck and registered keypresses.

What made the Game Voice special was that it not only provided player-to-player communications, but also could function as a voice-activated game controller. Using a set of "profiles", the user could set up a series of voice commands that would generate keypresses specific to a particular game.

Unfortunately Microsoft discontinued the product in 2003, and has not released the hardware specifications so that an open source driver can be developed. The device is supported under Windows XP, but no new driver is planned for Windows Vista.

Freestyle Pro

SideWinder Freestyle Pro gamepad
SideWinder Freestyle Pro gamepad

The Freestyle Pro, released in 1998, was a rather unique gamepad, as the up-down-left-right directions in analog mode were controlled by the movement of the controller, more precisely by the absolute pitch and roll position of the pad. This reaction on movement is quite similar to some of the features of the new Sony PlayStation 3 SIXAXIS. Games that did not punish washy control inputs such as Motocross Madness (which was bundled with the controller) profited from this physical interaction. But other games that heavily relied on precision (such as flight simulators) couldn't be controlled precisely with it - as movement was free and not limited by physical bounds as in a traditional analog joystick/gamepad design, the user could not intuitively say if he moved the controller 100, 50, etc. percent in one direction. Even the "zero position" could not be precisely found, as retracting mechanisms could obviously not be built in. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 701 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (2197 × 1878 pixel, file size: 974 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 701 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (2197 × 1878 pixel, file size: 974 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ... // The final Sixaxis Design. ... Sequel is Motocross Madness 2. ... Interior cockpit of a modern flight simulator A flight simulator is a system that tries to replicate, or simulate, the experience of flying an aircraft as closely and realistically as possible. ...

The control pad had a total of ten digital fire buttons: six buttons controlled with the right thumb (named ABC XYZ), two shoulder buttons (one left, one right), and two buttons controlled with the left thumb, one named start, the other marked with a shift key symbol (as the SideWinder software allowed to use this button to shift controls for the ABC XYZ buttons - on the driver side, it was just an action button like the others). The shift key on a modern Windows keyboard The shift key is a modifier key on a keyboard, used to type capital letters and other alternate upper characters. ...

The left thumb also controlled a D-pad which was rather useless when it came to fast and precise digital movement controls: the D-pad had to be pushed a far way until the action requested was finally registered, and the directions pressed were interpreted too washy (pressing left often resulted in the controller registering a diagonal left-down, for example - a problem that is crucial in versus fighting games). The endless steps throttle in the middle was also not perfectly thought-out: it behaved like an endless scroll wheel on the mechanical side, while the hardware driver assumed it to be a absolute value throttle - scrolling on and on in one direction only caused the hardware driver to rest in either zero percent or 100 percent throttle position. The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ... This article describes fighting games in which opponents face off in a battle. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

A sensor button switched the control pad between analog mode (green LED) and digital mode (red LED). In analog mode, the x- and y-axis were controlled by the analog controller movements, and the D-pad was used as a cooliehat. In digital mode, the D-pad controlled the x- and y-axis like a traditional digital control pad (therefore, there was no cooliehat function in digital mode). External links LEd Category: TeX ...

Due to the release in 1998, at which time USB was just taking off, the Precision Pro supported both game port and USB connection. Without the adapter, the controller's cable ended in a game port plug. The sale box contained the Gameport-to-USB adapter for free. Note: USB may also mean upper sideband in radio. ... A PCI based soundcard with a DA-15 connector The game port is the traditional connection for video game input devices on an x86-based PCs. ...

Dual Strike

The Dual Strike, which debuted in 1999, was Microsoft's second notable venture in to strange gamepad designs, following the Freestyle Pro. The Dual Strike attempted to blend both mouse and gamepad functions into a single unit. It was comprised of two portions; there is a hinge between the two that allows you to rotate the right side up and down and from side to side. The Dual Strike only supported USB. This article is about the year. ... Note: USB may also mean upper sideband in radio. ...


  1. ^ US patent 5628686 - Apparatus and method for bidirectional data communication in a game port.
  2. ^ Grendel. 3DP-Vert, a USB adapter for the Mircosoft SideWinder 3D Pro, Precision Pro and Force Feedback Pro.

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Microsoft SideWinder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1939 words)
Microsoft Sidewinder is the general name given to the family of digital game controllers developed by Microsoft for PCs.
Microsoft also gave the rest of the Precision Pro a more rounded design, replacing the rectangular base buttons with more rounded buttons, the slider-based throttle with a wheel-based throttle, and the base itself was made more rounded.
The Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Wheel is a steering wheel controller for sim racing.
Microsoft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (7361 words)
Microsoft Corp., in which the ruling was in Microsoft's favor, the release of Windows for Workgroups 3.11, a new version of the consumer line of Windows, and Windows NT 3.1, a server-based operating system with a similar user interface to consumer versions of the operating system, but with an entirely different kernel.
Microsoft plans to release a new version of Microsoft Office as well, called Microsoft Office 2007, and is set to be released along side Vista in January 2007 as of May 2006.
Microsoft hires many foreign workers as well as domestic ones, and is an outspoken opponent of the cap on H1B visas, which allow companies in the United States to employ certain foreign workers.
  More results at FactBites »



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