Microsoft's Kinect for Windows software development kit adds Windows 8 Desktop app support

Microsoft's Kinect for Windows software development kit adds Windows 8 Desktop app support

Summary: Developers can now write Desktop (non-Windows-Store style) applications for Windows 8 using the latest version of the Kinect for Windows software development kit.


Microsoft released on October 8 an updated version of its Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) that includes support for Desktop applications running on Windows 8.

Company officials said in September that developers should expect the updated Kinect for Windows SDK to arrive today.


The October SDK includes several new features, including:

  • Exposure of the infrared stream in the application programming interface (API) as a new color image format. 
  • Extended depth data (beyond four meters), but with reduced quality as distance increases
  • Ability to optimize color camera settings
  • Support for a new raw Bayer color image format
  • Exposure of the sensor's accelerometer in the API
  • Support for German in the speech-recognition pack
  • Support for several new APIs for converting data between color, depth and skeleton coordinate spaces
  • Support for Windows running in a virtual machine (VM), including those from Microsoft's Hyper-V team, VMWare, and Parallels

According to the release notes, the October SDK also allows developers to build Desktop applications for Windows 8. Desktop apps are Win32 apps that cannot be downloaded directly from the Windows Store in Windows 8 and Windows RT. The new SDK also adds support for Visual Studio 2012 and .Net 4.5.

Kinect Studio 1.6.0 has been updated to support the new features in the SDK.

Today also is the day when Kinect for Windows sensors go on sale in China, as Microsoft officials said they would back in September.

The Kinect for Windows sensor looks like the Kinect for Xbox sensor. But it is designed to work at closer range and to work with Windows 7/8 PCs. In addition to making firmware adjustments in the new Windows Kinect sensor, Microsoft shortened the the USB cable and included a “small dongle” to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. The Windows version also modified the Kinect depth camera to see objects that are “as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device.

The Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) and runtime are available under both a commercial license and a hobbyist license, allowing developers to create commercial/business applications that make use of the product.

Topics: Software Development, Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Neat...

    I know I've seen lots of concept demos of using Kinect with a PC, but nothing too practical yet.

    It'll be neat to see if this takes off in the next few years.
    • Agreed

      I am surfing the net from my coach via a desktop computer connected to my 58" plasma. I am thinking that Kinect can help me interface with the Windows 8 OS from my couch like a giant touch(less) screen. Looking forward to controlling a computer like Tom Cruise in minority report
      Burger Meister
  • Wow

    OK man that sounds like a pretty good plan dude.
    Zew Mang
  • Finally, I can migrate to Windows 8 totally.

    yes, I am waiting for this to happen.
    Ram U
  • how will it compare?

    Leap Motion is due out sometime this winter, and its reportedly super-accurate.
    it also supports native touch emulation for Windows 8., We'll wait and see. Its Vapor ware until its in my hands. Interesting times...
    • what vaporware?

      it is already out. you could download from Kinect for Windows page on Microsoft website and you could test it out. the sensor for Windows is available since the begining of this year and Microsoft already release 3 versions of the SDK 1, 1.5 and now 1.6.
      Ram U
      • No vapors...

        was commenting on Leap Motion, not Kinect. sorry to confuse...
        • Ok, got it.

          I was thinking about availability of Kinect Sensor and SDK. Yep, Leap Motion still missing in action.
          Ram U
  • What?

    Microsoft released an SDK that targets desktop development rather than Metro/RT/Windows Store app development? Wake the kids and phone the neighbors!!! Maybe the desktop isn't dead after all, just sleeping until Windows 8 ships.

    Of course, Kinect is a gimmick with relevance to a tiny percentage of the available desktop Windows applications that people use every day. Microsoft, if you are going to expend effort on the desktop, please focus on all the bug fixes and features that are needed to move mainstream desktop applications forward, rather than gimmicks.
    • Wlking and chewing gum at the same time.

      Microsoft has a LOT of people working on various stuff. Guys working on advancing Kinect aren't robbing desktop development of any vital talent. Desktop support for Kinect makes it more accessible to a wide variety of developers, which aids the Xbox business and is a general investment in getting outside developers thinking about the way they might do things in the future.

      It's a small investment for Microsoft that could have big benefits.
  • What Squared?

    And exactly how is it that you know that remote biometric interfaces will have no relevance going forward?
  • ok

    but when you arms get tired from waving them about like a spastic seagull for a couple of hours, your gona want to go back to a mouse.
    Scarface Claw