Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

Summary: If the engineers want to close off the open source uses of Kinect later, in order for Microsoft to gain more control over new markets, there is time for that.


In a statement to our sister site Gamespot, Microsoft has backed down from its legal threats against the Kinect Linux "hack" of Hector Martin.

Martin will get $3,000 from Adafruit for developing the drivers, now called OpenKinect, which also work with Windows and OSX. (Martin works with the NUI Group.)

NOTE: The open source Kinect connection project has been named libfreenect, and you can get the code at Github.

(Remember kids, if you're not good Coca-Cola may enforce its copyright on Santa Claus against you. The popular image of St. Nick was first portrayed by Haddon Sundblum in a 1931 Coca-Cola advertisement.)

Microsoft's first statement on the success of Adafruit's contest was filled with dark foreboding, promising the company would " work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant."

A later clarification said OpenKinect was not a hack, but that the new code is not supported and people should use the Kinect as intended, only with the XBox.

There are two reasons for the possible back-down:

  1. Microsoft lawyers recognized it has no legal case against Martin, who made no changes to the hardware.
  2. Microsoft marketers realized that the drivers might, in the end, be a gold mine for Microsoft.

As Adafruit noted, the OpenKinect code takes the interface far from its roots in gaming. It is now available for education and robotics applications.

Microsoft has been anxious for something to challenge the dominance of Nintendo's Wii, and it looks increasingly like Kinect is it. The company has admitted that users of its XBox Live  online service spend only 60% of their time playing games, and that the company was able to raise its price on the service by 20%.

The alternative uses include innocent pleasures like watching movies on Netflix, listening to music through Microsoft Zune, and using social networking sites like Facebook.

"Everything we've been shipping has been selling," a Microsoft executive told a conference attended by CNET's Josh Lowenstein. Most retailers are sold out of the Kinect controller, he said.

Given all that it seems foolish from a business as well as a legal perspective to go to court against Martin or Adafruit. Microsoft, whose stock has been stuck in a trading range for a decade while Apple has passed it in market cap, may finally be poised for a break-out.

If the engineers want to close off the open source uses of Kinect later, in order for Microsoft to gain more control over those markets, there is time for that. For now Steve Ballmer looks set to relax and enjoy a Merry Christmas.

Topics: Microsoft, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • You forgot one more

    3. Kinect is already proving to be a major flop and any outside help to drive up sales is welcome.
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      @cyberslammer2 Care to elaborate on that? The company insists it's sold out of the device, and that everything it's making is selling.
      • Sold out??? Only if you ingoing the inventory in every floor

        @DanaBlankenhorn To be sold out, you have to have ZERO inventory on the floors of any store.

        For a sold out device, I wonder what all those hundred of neatly stacked boxes are in the floors of every BestBuy store. Boxes that people are ignoring .... just like the XBox (and PS3 for that matter) when it came out.
      • Of course they are lying

        He said Windows 7 would be an EPIC = Fail, and to him it has.

        He said NO ONE would buy Windows Phone 7, and to him, he was right
        He said Kinect would be an EPIC = FAIL, and again, to him, he's right.

        Microsoft is living off of idiotic investors: they haven't made a profit in over 10 years in his mind.

        Maybe if he read what others have written as opposed to creating his own "facts" maybe he'd say something worthwhile
        John Zern
      • Well they haven't sold out in my area

        @DanaBlankenhorn... All the major retailers in my region have plenty. That isn't to say that it won't be popular, but given the selection of games I have seen, which are rated for children of all ages, just isn't driving the interest of most gamers.

        So perhaps if we seem some big game titles, that can utilize it, then perhaps it will take off, but so far as I have seen, there isn't any games there that I would be interested in.

        And Booo to MSFT for increasing the cost of their Gold Membership. I have refused to renew my Gold memberships because of it. All of the benefits you get with it, you get for free on the PS3. That is 4 gold memberships that MSFT lost from my household. My PS3 and Wii play online just fine without an additional premium, and I don't need to pay an additional $60p/y to watch Netflix either.
      • That's right wackoae!!

        I noticed that the salespeople were ingnoring all the customers walking out of the store with Kinect!

        They MUST have been stealing them because you proved 100 times that NOBODY buys M$'s junk!!
        Ron Bergundy
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      @cyberslammer2 @Smooshi whatever

      "According to reports, Kinect sales are just about to jump over the half-million mark, just one week after it was released. VGChartz also shows that about 30% of consumers are buying additional games for their Kinect. The most popular of those is Kinect Sports, which has pulled down 142,991 copies sold, followed by Dance Central at 132,554"

      So, half a million devices in a week coupled with over a quarter million additional games. Why don't you boys just go back to the basement and watch Battlestar Gallactica reruns on your Apple TV's whilst the adults play here in the real world...
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

        @omdguy Yes, and people are already reporting that you have to have a living room the size of an airplane hangar to effectively use the what, now you have to clear out the couch, coffee table and the loveseat to play a video game? Not gonna happen..

        I have a 360 omdguy, and I have a Wii...I've played with the Kinect demo and I'm not impressed by it, not to mention they had a huge space cleared to use it, and most Americans don't have a giant living room to play some of the Youtube videos, it's hilarious to watch people knocking over furniture and each other trying to use it in a closed space.
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack


        The entire idea of wii and the kientic to me is the opposite of what myself a hardcore gamer have interest in doing. The hardcore group isnt really into your video console being a gym we prefer a controller a couch and mountain dew now that said here in the Chicago land area the Kinetic sold out everywhere within 500 miles in less then a few days. back orders are being taken but your not gonna find one. I had my brothers in St louis take a look and my buddy in NY but they said they can't find them anywhere either. So that has to back something when Chicag, St.Louis,and NY are sold out.Just what i see happeneing
      • Dead on Cyberslammer2!1

        I hear nothing but complaints about the Kinect that you need an airline hanger to use it.

        Its nothing like the Wii or Move where there is no movement or space needed to use those sold out untill Dec controllers!
        Ron Bergundy
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

        Man you need to get out of your moms basement once a while dude.
    • What is it with you

      and proclaiming products from Microsoft flops?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      What your referances for this ?
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      I agree kinect is DOA.
      Ballmer should have matched the prize just to get some media buzz.
      Linux Geek
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

        @Linux Geek - Finally the stamp of success. Because we all know your expert - LOL. Of course ignoring the fact that they are starting to disappear from stores. What a air head schmuck.
    • Yes it is a MAJOR flop!!!

      I keep seeing empty shelves at Best Buy with the sign "Kinect: 149.99" next to it.

      That proves it - they aren't even bothering to stock them anymore, just leave them in the back because aint nobody going to be buying them!
      Ron Bergundy
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

        Actually when i was at best buy yesterday. I saw them moving them from the front of the store where they had the kinect display to a unknown location.. You could be right that..
        Anthony E
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      @cyberslammer2 how is it a fail? Especially consisting that their other products other than wp7 seem to be good.
    • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

      Kinect is selling like hot cakes, it's already sold out on amazon, too bad Wii sucks even Move is better than Wii and Kinect rules them all
      • RE: Microsoft surrenders on Linux Kinect hack

        I hope your right.. Amazon shows they have 211 avail
        Anthony E