Microsoft yesterday at their keynote revealed that the company sold more than 18 million Kinect units for the Xbox 360 gaming console. Kinect, for those unfamiliar with, is a motion sensing input device that allows Xbox 360 gamers to interact with the system through body movement and their voice.
Kinect for the Windows operating system has been officially announced during that keynote, which will be available from February 1 on. Retail sites like Amazon are already accepting preorders, with the price tag set to $249.99, which is about $100 more than Xbox 360 users have to pay. A recent blog post on the Kinect for Windows blog reveals details about the difference in pricing.
The ability to sell Kinect for Xbox 360 at its current price point is in large part subsidized by consumers buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox LIVE, and making 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, which is why it is not licensed for general commercial use, supported or under warranty when used on any other platform.
No subsidizing, no license for commercial use and no support or warranty are the core reasons for the price difference between Kinect for Windows and Microsoft's Xbox. Microsoft will offer "special academic pricing" later this year.
Kinect for Windows will only run on computers running the Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating systems, and on Windows embedded-based devices. Microsoft will not charge license fees for the SDK or runtime, which will be available for free (and likely included with the Kinect for Windows hardware).
Developers who are currently using the beta SDK with the Xbox Kinect unit may continue to do so until June 16, 2016. New projects, non-commercial and commercial alike, are not permitted to use the unit. They "require the fully tested and supported Kinect for Windows hardware and software platform".
Kinect for Windows ships with a small USB cable to connect the device to PCs and supported devices. A new firmware for the Windows unit enables the so called near mode which allows the sensors to pick up movement as near as 50 centimeters in front of the device.
If you are asking me, I'd say that Kinect for Windows will take a backseat in the beginning. The product certainly has its appeal for developers. End users on the other hand cannot really do a lot with the unit straight from the start. The product seems to ship without games or applications, and if you add the price tag and need for installation of the SDK software to it you end up with an unattractive bundle for now. This may change in the future when apps or conversions becomes available.
What's your take on Kinect for Windows?
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