CES2012: Microsoft Officially Announces Kinect for Windows (Pre-orders open now!)

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As Steve Ballmer gave what looks to be his last keynote at CES (Microsoft has stated that this will be their last appearance at the iconic technology convention) he did let loose some juicy details. In addition to reiterating Microsoft’s support for the Metro UI across all their devices, he promised that Kinect would hit the PC started early next month.

Microsoft Kinect for Windows

Over at the MSDN blogs, the new Kinect for Windows Team posted about the success that Microsoft and its Kinect has enjoyed so far. A whopping 18 million Kinects have been sold so far, both standalone units and in conjunction with new Xbox 360s in pre-boxed retail situations. The Kinect apparently sold so well, in fact, that Guinness awarded Microsoft one of their world records for the ‘fastest selling consumer electronics device ever.’ 

Pretty impressive, right?

The Kinect has enjoyed a number of unintended applications thanks to a group of dedicated 3rd party enthusiasts, scientists, researchers, doctors, therapists, tinkerers, programmers and more. So many, in fact, that Microsoft has decided to call this the “Kinect Effect,” and launched a new page to highlight some of the cooler instances of Kinect trickery, as well as offer their idea of the futre of the Kinect peripheral.

Ballmer promised that the Kinect for Windows hardware will go on sale as early as February 1st of this year. There’s a downside, however, and that comes in the form of the price. The Kinect hardware for the Xbox 360 is subsidized by Kinect games, Xbox Live payments, console and hardware sales, and so on. The Kinect for Windows won’t have any of that extra support, so the price is gonna be a bit higher – in fact, the Kinect for Windows units will start out at $249.99, a full $100 increase over the Xbox 360 models.

For their part, Microsoft has decided to make the SDK for the units completely free, so you won’t be forced to pay additional fees just to develop software for the Kinect. Moreover, in order to avoid hurting the developers who bought an Xbox 360 Kinect, the company has extended the beta SDK license an additional 3 years, meaning it won’t expire until 2016. That’s not too bad, all things considered.

Xbox 360 Kinects will only work with that beta SDK, however, and won’t run on Windows PCs with the finalized SDK and software. Windows Kinects also won’t be able to be run on the Xbox 360, either, and include a special near mode to make up for the fact that PC Kinect users will likely be situated much closer to their PCs than Xbox Kinect users are to their TVs.

You can pre-order the device at Amazon.

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