Microsoft staff members writing on the Kinect for Windows blog have confirmed that the company is releasing an official SDK for the motion-sensing controller extension to its Xbox 360 gaming console. Although there are no consumer applications officially available from Microsoft just now, the release of the forthcoming SDK is generally agreed to be a positive step forward for developers interested in targeting the Xbox platform.
Microsoft points out that it has chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows, which means that it will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime; so these will be available free to developers and end-users, respectively. Independent developers, IT managers, systems integrators, or ISVs can (so says Microsoft) "innovate with confidence" knowing that they will not pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates.
"Although we encourage all developers to understand and take advantage of the additional features and updates available with the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software, those developers using our SDK and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware may continue to use these in their development activities if they wish," said Craig Eisler, general manager, Kinect for Windows.
Eisler does, however, point out that non-commercial deployments using Kinect for Xbox360 that were allowed using the beta SDK are not permitted with the newly released software.
"Non-commercial deployments using the new runtime and SDK will require the fully tested and supported Kinect for Windows hardware and software platform, just as commercial deployments do. Existing non-commercial deployments using our beta SDK may continue using the beta and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware; to accommodate this, we are extending the beta license for three more years, to June 16, 2016," he said.
Kinect has reportedly sold more than 18 million units in the past year gaining it a Guinness World Record for the "fastest selling consumer electronics device ever". Microsoft makes no secret of the fact that it is attempting to align the use of Kinect for Windows and Windows 8 into the "PC in every living room" dream that has been pursued by both Gates and Jobs alike for many years.
The company is building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that it hopes will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings in a "dependable and scalable" manner. Reports on MSNBC suggest that Microsoft could be working with as many as 200 third-party companies in order to fuel interest in this software development stream and help maximize the creation of applications in this space.
Microsoft's Eisler finishes by saying, "We expect that as Kinect for Windows hardware becomes readily available, developers will shift their development efforts to Kinect for Windows hardware in conjunction with the latest SDK and runtime."