Apple's latest product, Mighty Mouse, has a tiny secret - it's another Windows-compatible product from the Cupertino company.

The mouse carries four independently programmable buttons and a Scroll Ball that lets users scroll in any direction-vertically, horizontally and even diagonally.

The device has already attracted major attention because it's Apple's first departure from the single-button form factor it has championed for years.

Pro users rejoice

Many of the company's professional users have complained at the company's slavish focus on this, saying an extra button would be particularly useful within video and graphic design applications. Apple's answer, in 2005, is the introduction of the four-buttoned and programmable Mighty Mouse.

The £35 device still looks like a single-button mouse, but its top shell hides touch-sensitive technology that detects which part of the mouse is being clicked, so users can left- and right-click.

Apple's technical specifications for the product's system requirements state: "Mac OS X (programmability requires Mac OS X v10.4.2 Tiger or later), or Windows 2000 or Windows XP."

Mouse settings are controlled using the Mouse control panel on Windows systems.

Cross-platform plans?

Apple now offers several cross-platform products, naturally including iPod and iTunes. AirPort Express, QuickTime and database software FileMaker from Apple's eponymously-named and wholly-owned subsidiary also support Microsoft's platform.

NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We've seen a pattern of Apple introducing Mac-only products and modifying them later to make them more broadly compatible. But now, the trend is to make them compatible out of the box."

Apple will switch to processors from Intel next year.