Microsoft Keyboards - F Lock Key


The F Lock key on the Microsoft Keyboards is a relatively new concept facility for Microsoft Keyboards. Introduced with the Microsoft Office Keyboard and used in later keyboards, it essentially allows keys to do have more than one operation. The F Lock key, depending on its state, will allow either a function key's "normal" operation or a new "enhanced" operation. The initial state of the F Lock key is "off", and in this state, the function keys use their "enhanced" operation.

The F Lock key is a hardware switch in the keyboard. Its state cannot be controlled programmatically. Its default condition is "off". As a result, whenever the keyboard is reset, or loses power, the F Lock key will always be in an "off" state.  Do note that with the Microsoft keyboards released after September 2004, the keyboard will retain F Lock status through a reboot.

For many, the way that the F Lock key operates is not desirable; some people want "normal" function key operation, some people don't need the keys at all.

There are two ways to work around this issue. If you connect your keyboard to your computer via the PS2 port, you have two choices,  you can either reprogram the scan codes using the Scan Code Mapper found in modern Windows NT-based OS (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003) or you can reprogram the keys with the assistance of Microsoft's Intellitype Pro software for their keyboards. If you connect your keyboard to your computer via USB port, then the only way to get around this is to reprogram the keys with the assistance of Microsoft Intellitype Pro.

While there is no way to control the F Lock key state programmatically, we can resort to some form of trickery to make the function keys act like function keys all the time, no matter what the F Lock state is.

Depending on your keyboard connection type, pick from one of the two methods to 'fix' this issue

Microsoft keyboards that have the F Lock key include but may not be limited to the Office Keyboard, Natural Multimedia Keyboard, Multimedia Keyboard, Wireless Optical Desktop Keyboard, Wireless Optical Desktop Pro Keyboard, Basic Wireless Optical Desktop Keyboard, Wireless Desktop Elite Keyboard, Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 Keyboard, Digital Media Keyboard, Digital Media Pro Keyboard, Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader, Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, Wireless Comfort Keyboard, Wireless Multimedia Desktop, Wireless Natural Multimedia Keyboard and Wireless Photo Keyboard.

For Logitech Users who suffer from the inclusion of the F Lock key, visit Ben Pope's Website.
For Linux users, who also suffer from the inclusion of the F Lock key, visit this site.

Please provide any feedback in the microsoft.public.mshardware.product newsgroup on the NNTP (news) server or at my blog.

Thanks and enjoy,

Jason Tsang, Microsoft MVP (Windows Shell/User - 2001-2004, Media Center - 2004-Present)

Also visit my other website, Classics Unveiled or my blog.

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Last Updated August 07, 2008 07:03:26 -0700