There was next-to-no news during Microsoft's final keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 9 until the absolute end of CEO Steve Ballmer's hour-plus address.
The one tidbit: The Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit which the Softies said late last year would be out in early 2012 is, indeed, on its way. On February 1, both the new Kinect sensor for Windows PCs and the accompanying SDK (under a commercial license, not a hobbyist license) will be available.
"Today, we are announcing that the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software will be available on February 1st, 2012 in 12 countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom), at a suggested retail price of US $249. Kinect for Windows hardware will be available, in limited quantities at first, through a variety of resellers and distributors. The price includes a one-year warranty, access to ongoing software updates for both speech and human tracking, and our continued investment in Kinect for Windows-based software advancements. Later this year, we will offer special academic pricing (planned at US $149) for Qualified Educational Users."
The Kinect for Windows sensor looks (from pictures) almost identical to the Kinect for Xbox. 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 also is shortening the USB cable and including of a “small dongle” to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. The Windows version will modify the Kinect depth camera to see objects that are “as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device” without sacrificing accuracy or precision.
Microsoft execs also said on January 9 that the company has sold 18 million Kinects to date.