Apple has introduced Mighty Mouse, its next-generation mouse with four independently programmable buttons and an ingenious Scroll Ball that lets users scroll in any direction-vertically, horizontally and even diagonally.

The Mighty Mouse is Apple's first major move away from its traditional one-button-mouse format, although it looks and feels like a sleek one-button mouse. Mighty Mouse's smooth top shell hides touch-sensitive technology that detects which part of the mouse is being clicked, allowing users to left-click and right-click.

With a simple click on the upper right or left side of the mouse, users can instantly access features such as contextual menus found in Mac OS® X and other applications. Mighty Mouse's two other buttons are activated by pressing its Scroll Ball and squeezing its sides, and can be easily programmed to give users one-click access to Mac OS X version 10.4.2 Tiger features such as Spotlight, Dashboard and Expose, or to launch any application such as Safari or iChat.

According to Apple, this is the first multi-button mouse that retains the simplicity of a single-button mouse, and can be used as a single- or multi-button mouse depending on the user's preference. The company claims that Mighty Mouse features an easy-to-use design that comfortably fits the left or right hand and an optical tracking engine for responsive and accurate cursor movement on almost any type of surface.

The Scroll Ball enables users to scroll with natural, fluid movements, making Mighty Mouse perfect for applications from viewing Web pages and photographs, to video editing and music creation, says Apple.

Apple's vice president of Worldwide Mac Product Marketing David Moody said: "With Mighty Mouse, we've simply built a better mouse. With its innovative Scroll Ball and unique integration of multiple buttons, Mighty Mouse adds functionality while retaining the elegant, easy-to-use Apple design."

Mighty Mouse costs £35.