Most Macworld Online readers want Apple to introduce a two-button mouse equipped with a scroll wheel, according to a reader poll.

An impressive 742 readers - 55 per cent of voters - agreed; just 197 voters - 14 per cent - think Apple should stick with a one-button mouse, with just 167 voters believing a single button mouse with a scroll wheel is the way to go.

Other voters included 53 who want a simple two button mouse, 15 who want more than two buttons and 186 who want more than two buttons equipped with a scroll wheel. 1,360 readers cast votes.

Beautiful simplicity
"It's a tribute to the Mac that we can get away with a one button mouse, but with a two button mouse and scroll wheel we are in Mac heaven," observed one reader.

Another reader offered a contrasting view: "I have met a lot of home users who never use more than one button - a mouse with two on is an unnecessary complication."

Many commentators enjoy today's mouse design: "I find the single button mouse fine, though a scroll wheel would be useful."

A teacher wrote: "I like the fact that the whole mouse clicks as the button. It has made the computer more accessible to the five-year-olds in my school."

Another encouraged a different type of user education: "Forget about contextual menus. Forget about user interface stuff. Learn keyboard shortcuts," they proclaimed.

A nod to Xerox Apple's single-button mouse design goes all the way back to the original controller spotted by Apple co-founder and current CEO Steve Jobs on a visit to Xerox Parc.

Mouse technology was assembled by hi-tech visionary Doug Engelbart. Engelbart is also credited with other world-changing inventions: windows, hypertext, email and more. His research group also hosted one of the two first computers to be connected to the Internet.

His stated goal throughout his year's of invention was to: "Augment mankind's intellect in the pursuit of collectively solving urgent, complex problems." Engelbart is the subject of a six-part TV hostory of technology that is currently in production.

Many pointed out Apple's need to maintain a consistent - and approachable - user interface: "If Apple had started with 2 buttons, would its OS be so elegant and easy to use?"

You and your UI Apple's user interface has always encouraged developer's to focus in ease-of-use: "A single click button forces developers to design better," a reader said.

"Apple is all about ease of use."

Another reader - and Windows 'Switcher' said: "When I switched over to the Mac, using the mouse made me feel a bit handicapped."

While another said: "A single button is simple for computer novices to learn to use because it's so intuitive."

Repetitive Strain Injury is also a concern, with many voters who made comments observing: "A single button is easier on the hand. You don't have to have your hand in a rigid position. Repetitive Strain Injury is not something I want Apple to encourage."

One reader and former Unix three-button mouse user finds: "My hand and fingers get tired more quickly when I use a two-button mouse - this never happens with Apple's single-button mouse. I'm convinced these complex mice contribute to RSI. Click-and-hold or Control-clicking just seems to come naturally", they said.

It's in the OS Despite such considerations, some users feel that today's operating system demands a change from Apple: "It is really time for Apple to admit its own OS requires at least two buttons on the mouse."

Mac OS X already offers built-in support for three-button mice, according to its own developer pages: "Mac OS X provides complete support for multi-button mouse devices, as well as for computer mice that include a scroll wheel."

Talking particularly to developers porting applications to OS X from other platforms, Apple says: "It is true that every Mac ships with a one button mouse; but, this is not a problem that you will need to work around. Many Mac users know that you can display the Mac's contextual menu (a pop-up menu) by holding down the Control key and clicking the mouse button. Mac OS X was designed so that the default behavior for clicking a mouse's right button is to display the contextual menu."

The company has invested a lot in its user interface: "Apple human interface engineers labored painstakingly over every pixel in Aqua."

The company encourages its developer community to design right: "Apple strongly recommends that all menu items that appear from clicking the right and middle mouse buttons also be available somewhere within your application's menus," it explains.

The politics of ergonomy Ergonomic design matters to anyone who uses a computer full-time. Apple's now-discontinued puck mouse attracted criticism because it was uncomfortable to use. Many readers remain unimpressed by the company's current optical offering: "I wish they would design a mouse that actually felt good to use - even at the expense of looks. Microsoft's mouse design is far more comfortable than Apple's Pro mouse."

"I find all Apple mice since the iMac's moronic hockey puck mouse to be ridiculously uncomfortably shaped."

You don't want to do it like that Many readers advised Apple on how to migrate to a new mouse design.

"Apple could include it's own multi button mouse as a build to order option, whilst leaving the single button as standard," said one.

"There should be some sort of exchange program for those that want a 2 button mouse."

"Maybe Apple could have some sort of pressure/movement sensitive single button mouse that integrates the benefits of two button mice."

One reader set an engineering challenge for the company: "How about a mouse with two changeable covers? One cover is a removeable single button (like the Pro Mouse now) top; the other a two-button and scroll wheel top."

To an extent, a users's choice of mouse hinges on personal taste and need: "It depends on how you hold your mouse and what you use your Mac for," said a pragmatic commentator.

Another reader looked at the curse of democracy: "If the majority vote for one thing, it doesn't necessarily follow that it is best," they said.

Want to contribute to the great mouse debate? Or perhaps you'd like to offer your opinion in this week's poll, "What's the theme song for this year's WWDC?"