I need some elbow room!
Microsoft, considered by most to be a software company, has dabbled in hardware for years. The first Microsoft Mouse was introduced way back in 1985, for example. In recent years, Microsoft has shown an interest in the gaming hardware market-giving birth to the SideWinder series of game controllers. The original SideWinder family (two joysticks and a gamepad) was introduced in 1996.
Late in 1997, Microsoft began introducing the next generation of SideWinder controllers. One of the most recent additions to the SideWinder family is the Freestyle Pro gamepad. It's only the second gamepad in the series, and is not intended as a replacement for the basic SideWinder gamepad, but rather as an upgraded model-- thus the word "Pro" in the title. You can currently find both controllers on store shelves right next to each other.
It's no coincidence that game consoles have shipped with gamepad controllers ever since the original Nintendo Entertainment System; heck, even the Intellivision had one. Gamepads are the jack-of-all-trades of controllers. With a well-designed gamepad, you can get excellent control in almost every type of game. If you purchase only one game controller, a gamepad is the logical choice, as it will work in the widest variety of situations.