Microsoft delivered a beta of a software development kit (SDK) enabling the Kinect sensor to work with Windows PCs in mid-June 2011. But this SDK was licensed for non-commercial use only.
On October 31, company officials said the commercially licensed Kinect for Windows SDK will be "early next year." (There's no word in Microsoft's release if this will also be a beta SDK. I've got a question in.)
According to Microsoft, more than 200 businesses worldwide, including Toyota, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Razorfish, are part of a Kinect for Windows pilot program focused on exploring business usage of the Kinect sensor, which Microsoft launched in November 2010. Healthcare is just one of the areas where there's been a lot of early pioneering work and thinking about Kinect's potential applicability.
The existing Kinect for Windows SDK beta, available from http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk, is for non-commercial use only and is covered by a custom Microsoft academic license. The SDK was developed jointly by Microsoft Research and the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business unit.
The Kinect for Windows SDK, which runs on Windows 7 PCs, includes raw sensor streams from the Kinect cameras and microphone arrays for those who want to access the low-level programming interfaces. It also provides skeletal tracking capabilities for up to two people for those who want to create gesture-centric applications, as well as audio elements that are integrated directly with Microsoft’s Speech API (SAPI).
There's no word as to whether this SDK will be optimized for Windows 8 PCs, but with the Windows 8 beta also expected by many of us Microsoft watchers in early 2012, perhaps the stars will align....