Microsoft adds Windows 8 support to its Kinect development kit

Microsoft has rolled out Beta 2 of its Kinect for Windows development kit and has added support for Windows 8 with the refresh.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Earlier this week, Microsoft officials said the company planned to release a version of its Kinect sensor software development kit (SDK) for Windows for commercial usage in early 2012.

On November 4, Microsoft updated the other version of the Kinect for Windows SDK -- the one that is licensed for enthusiasts/hobbyists, which the company introduced in beta form earlier this summer. This SDK is available under a custom Microsoft academic license.

The Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 adds support for the Windows 8 Developer preview that Microsoft released in September. (This means the SDK now works on both Windows 7 and the Windows 8 Developer Preview as a Desktop Application.)

As explained by Microsoft in the ReadMe for Beta 2, "Developing Kinect enabled applications is essentially the same as developing other Windows applications, except that this SDK provides support for the features of the Kinect sensor (color images, depth images, audio, skeletal data, etc.)."

In addition to Windows 8 support, the Beta 2 SDK includes these changes and more, as listed in the ReadMe:

  • Significant improvements to skeletal tracking, including faster skeletal frame delivery and multithreading/multicore support
  • Accuracy has been improved overall, resulting in more precise tracking.
  • When using 2 Kinects, developers can now specify which one is used for skeletal tracking.
  • API (application programming interface) support for detecting and managing device status changes, such as device unplugged, device plugged in, power unplugged, etc.
  • Support for building 64-bit applications.  Previously, only 32-bit applications could be built.
  • Inclusion of a new C# sample: KinectAudioDemo.

I've asked Microsoft officials when they expect the hobbyist version of the Kinect Windows SDK to go final and have been told no comment. I've also asked whether the coming commercial version of the SDK will be beta or final when Microsoft makes it available next year and was told via a spokesperson: "Microsoft can confirm the release of the Kinect for Windows commercial program early next year, but does not have further details to share at this time."

Microsoft officials said earlier this week there are more than 200 businesses in its Kinect for Windows pilot program, investigating potential commercial uses of the Kinect sensor when combined with Windows PCs.

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