News Article

New Kinect Hardware for Windows Launches on 1st February

Posted Wed, 11 Jan 2012 by James Newton

Opening new doors

Opening new doors

New SKU on the way

We told you back in November that Microsoft was creating Kinect hardware just for Windows, and it'll be out on 1st February.

The PC-specific sensor has the ability to focus on objects 50cm from its cameras, but it comes at a cost.

Kinect for Windows will cost $249 — that's $100 more than the standard Kinect sensor, though the software development kit and runtime will be available for free.

We know what you're thinking. "Oh, I could save money by just buying the regular Kinect, right?" The answer is no: after June 2012, Kinect for Xbox 360 will only work on Kinect for Xbox 360, and Kinect for Windows will only work on Kinect for Windows. Microsoft's thinking could be boiled down to "why sell one when you can sell two?"

Today, we are announcing the availability of the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software on February 1st, 2012 in 12 countries (United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain). Kinect for Windows will be available, in limited quantities at first, through a variety of resellers and distributors and will include a one year warranty, access to ongoing software updates for both speech and human tracking, and our continued investment in Windows-based research and development.

We love the innovation we have seen built on Kinect for Xbox 360 – this has been a source of inspiration and delight for us and compelled us to create a team dedicated to serving this opportunity. We are proud to bring technology priced in the tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago to the mainstream at extremely low consumer prices. And although Kinect for Windows is still value-priced for the technology, some will ask us why it isn’t the same price as Kinect for Xbox.

The ability to sell Kinect for Xbox 360 at its current price point is in a large part based on a consumer buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox LIVE and other transactions associated with the Xbox 360 ecosystem. In addition, the Kinect for Xbox 360 was built for and tested with the Xbox 360 console only, not with any other platform, which is why it is not licensed for general commercial use, supported or under warranty when used on any other platform.

With Kinect for Windows, we are investing in creating a platform that is optimised for scenarios beyond the living room, and delivering new features on an ongoing basis, starting with “near mode” (see my earlier blog post for more about this). As well, we will be supporting the Windows Embedded platform to enable a range of intelligent systems scenarios, as described by Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas. We are building this platform in a way that will allow other companies the opportunity to integrate Kinect into their offerings. We have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable.

We have chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows, which means that we will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime; these will be available free to developers and end-users respectively. As an independent developer, an IT manager, a systems integrator, or an ISV, you can innovate with confidence knowing that you will not pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates, and the Kinect for Windows hardware you and your customers use is supported by Microsoft.

Enthusiasts or academic users who have created applications based on our beta SDK and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware may continue to develop for a limited period of time on the current Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware using our version 1.0 SDK. However, non-commercial deployments that were allowed using the beta 2 SDK are no longer permitted – non-commercial deployments, as with commercial deployments, will require the fully tested and supported Kinect for Windows hardware and software platform. Developers who have existing non-commercial deployments using our beta 2 SDK may continue using beta 2 and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware; to accommodate this, we are extending the time of the beta 2 license from June 16, 2013 for three more years, to June 16, 2016. However, we expect that as Kinect for Windows hardware becomes readily available, developers will shift their development efforts to Kinect for Windows hardware in conjunction with the latest SDK and runtime. The combination of Kinect for Windows hardware and software creates a superior development platform for Windows and will yield a higher quality, better performing experience for end users. Note that for Qualified Educational Users, we will be introducing special pricing for the Kinect for Windows hardware in the near future.

Now that we have created a fully supported Kinect platform for Windows, the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware manufactured in the second half of 2012 will only be compatible with the Xbox 360 platform – devices manufactured before this change will continue to function with Windows and can be used for internal and non-commercial development as described above. In addition, we will be focusing our Kinect for Windows team R&D investments solely on the Kinect for Windows hardware and software platform once this transition occurs. This change will allow us to ensure the best possible experience through Windows-optimised hardware and software, and allow our Xbox 360 platform team to do the same on Xbox.

We are excited for the new possibilities that Kinect will enable on the Windows platform, and to see how businesses and developers reimagine their processes and their products, and the many different ways each Kinect could enrich lives and make using technology more natural for everyone.

Tags: Windows, PC, Kinect, Hardware.

User Comments


1. Jfilesguy United States 12 Jan 2012, 11:53 GMT

Yay, now i can use a kinect without buying an Xbox 360!

But more importanty, will kinectaku review these PC games? Prehaps use a tap to separate PC stuff from Xbox stuff?


2. Magi United States 12 Jan 2012, 12:17 GMT

That's an intriguing question, Jfilesguy


3. James United Kingdom 12 Jan 2012, 14:44 GMT

No, we won't be reviewing them — it's my understanding they won't be games as much as applications. We'll stick to Xbox 360 as that's what we're good at :)


4. Jfilesguy United States 12 Jan 2012, 22:57 GMT

Thanks! I love it when my questions get answered by staff members!

But one question, why would they focus on apps, the kinect was made for games and works best for games, but i'm just some user on NLife so what do I know?


5. jaxim United States 12 Jan 2012, 23:49 GMT

I would it if the site expanded and covered the PC version too. At the very least, I would like to see reviews of the PC games because I imagine there will be PC games.


6. James United Kingdom 14 Jan 2012, 10:10 GMT

99% of the stuff for Kinect on PC has been non-gaming software, and Microsoft wants to open it up to researchers, academics etc. with a PC-exclusive SKU.

If there's a lot of interesting PC games for Kinect we'll look into it, but I don't see it happening.

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