Microsoft to test limits of Kinect market

The Kinect interface is Version 1.0 of something that might evolve into something cool. It could well become more important than the XBox it was built to support.

Microsoft now says it always intended the Kinect to be an open interface. (I'm the proud owner of an autographed copy of this software.)

Someone tapped a shoulder on the Microsoft campus and reminded the company it's not Nintendo (whose U.S. office is also in Redmond). Microsoft got to be huge by being open, not closed.

So let 1,000 hacks bloom. Let the Kinect become a robotics device, let it capture 3-D images, let's see if there are medical applications for it. They might actually make the product better.

This is an important turning point in the history of interfaces. For the last several years innovation has come from Nintendo or Apple, two companies noted for their tight control over technology.

This has led many people to mistakenly believe that the only way to innovate was through such tight control, and that the only way to profit from innovation was to dictate what could or could not be done with it.

That's simply not true.

At the same time this may be a turning point for Microsoft.

The company fought open source for so long, and so fiercely, that many people are too young to remember a time when Microsoft meant open. But it did. In the 1980s when IBM sought to dictate hardware interfaces, and even the nature of pure "DOS" (as your father), Microsoft meant a more open alternative. It's how they won the market.

Microsoft code may not always be transparent, but that doesn't mean you can't innovate within a Microsoft-owned ecosystem. Developers, developers, developers developers wasn't just a dance craze. It was truly Microsoft's attitude.

The Kinect interface is Version 1.0 of something that might evolve into something cool. It could well become more important than the XBox it was built to support.

Now Microsoft will be able to explore that possibility, and its profit opportunities. As will we.

Goody.

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