Starting February 1, 2012: Use the Power of Kinect for Windows to Change the World

Kinect for Windows hardware We’re thrilled at the sales we’ve seen for Kinect - 18 million sold in the past year – and we were honored to receive a Guinness World Record for the fastest selling consumer electronics device ever. As consumers, we may take devices like Kinect for granted, but in fact electronic devices are the fruit of a great deal of behind-the-scenes ingenuity and experimentation.  Kinect is a shining example of this.  Instead of mimicking the handheld motion-sensing controllers already on the market, Microsoft shattered the existing controller paradigm by inventing a new natural user interface system that enables advanced human tracking, gesture recognition, voice control and more.  Our answer to the “wand” controller was no controller at all, or as we say, “YOU are the controller.” 

Getting there wasn’t easy.  Without many years of intense R&D efforts, including research investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, and the deep partnership between our research teams, software teams, hardware teams, manufacturing teams, and games studios, Kinect simply wouldn’t exist.   And as amazing a piece of hardware as Kinect is, it is much more than that. At the heart of the Kinect experience lies sophisticated software that meaningfully deciphers the images and gestures captured by the 3D sensor as well as the voice commands captured by the microphone array from someone much further away than someone using a headset or a phone. More importantly, Kinect software can understand what each user means by a particular gesture or command across a wide range of possible shapes, sizes, and actions of real people.

The incredible amount of innovation on Kinect for Xbox 360 this past year shows the potential for Kinect as a platform for developers and businesses to build new and innovative offerings.  Along with many others, we have only begun to explore the potential of this amazing technology.  This proliferation of creative and imaginative new ideas for Kinect, which we call the Kinect Effect, will expand even further with our commercial release of Kinect for Windows.

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.

We love the innovation we have seen built using Kinect for Xbox 360 – this has been a source of inspiration and delight for us and compelled us to create a team dedicated to serving this opportunity.   We are proud to bring technology priced in the tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago to the mainstream at extremely low consumer prices. And although Kinect for Windows is still value-priced for the technology, some will ask us why it isn’t the same price as Kinect for Xbox.

The ability to sell Kinect for Xbox 360 at its current price point is in large part subsidized by consumers buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox LIVE, and making other transactions associated with the Xbox 360 ecosystem.  In addition, the Kinect for Xbox 360 was built for and tested with the Xbox 360 console only, which is why it is not licensed for general commercial use, supported or under warranty when used on any other platform. 

With Kinect for Windows, we are investing in creating a platform that is optimized for scenarios beyond the living room, and delivering new software features on an ongoing basis, starting with “near mode” (see my earlier blog post for more about this).  In addition to support for Windows 7 and the Windows 8 developer preview (desktop apps only), Kinect for Windows will also support gesture and voice on Windows Embedded-based devices and will enhance how data is captured and accessed within intelligent systems across manufacturing, retail  and many more industries. We are building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings and we have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable.

Kinect for Windows includes hardware and SDKWe have chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows, which means that we will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime; these will be available free to developers and end-users respectively.  As an independent developer, IT manager, systems integrator, or ISV, you can innovate with confidence knowing that you will not pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates, and the Kinect for Windows hardware you and your customers use is supported by Microsoft.

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.  However, non-commercial deployments using Kinect for Xbox 360 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.  

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.  The combination of Kinect for Windows hardware and software creates a superior development platform for Windows and will yield a higher quality, better performing experience for end users. 

We are excited for the new possibilities that Kinect will enable on the Windows platform, and to see how businesses and developers reimagine their processes and their products, and the many different ways each Kinect could enrich lives and make using technology more natural for everyone.

Craig Eisler
General Manager, Kinect for Windows

Comments (55)
  1. Anonymous says:

    How is this different from the *retail* Kinect we already got for Xbox+PC? This is wasting investment of those people.

  2. Guest says:

    I see it has a 'near mode' which will be great, but does it still has the 'far mode' ??

  3. Willem RT says:

    Wait a sec. So they wont be interchangeable? I have to buy one for my X-Box and one for my PC? That seems a little silly.

  4. Gubatron says:

    Wonder when Microsoft is going to make their blogs a little more friendly to read.

    Could you please make the font any smaller and write even more on your posts?

  5. Richard says:

    Good grief, if you're looking to make Kinect the device of the future when it comes to human/computer interaction, then I just don't get the model you guys are employing here. Now we have 2 devices that look almost identical but differ ever so slightly in compatibility and function.

    Not only that, it completely obliterates the target audience for many individuals who have been waiting for the retail release of these tools. Before this we had the entire XBOX+PC audience, now we have no audience.

    When these get built into desktops and laptops, then maybe it won't be an issue, but when it comes to promoting early adoption this is a really silly move.

  6. Anton says:

    <<<ongoing software updates, Kinect for Windows hardware is supported by Microsoft>>> blah-blah-blah…

    It would be nice if MS will really provide this promised support.

    So it would be not like this MSMouse-IntelliPoint case where even 8th official update does not include users' needs cried on support forums.

  7. Kisai says:

    Not to complain, but if Microsoft makes it so that the Xbox 360 Kinect and Windows Kinect are not interchangeable (either due to software/drivers or because they are really different pieces of hardware) Microsoft is blowing adoption of it.

    Here's what needs to happen to ensure adoption of the Kinect beyond the hardware hacking scene…

    1. Either the Xbox 360 Kinect or the Windows Kinect must be usable with the same drivers/SDK

    2. The 360 Kinect and Windows Kinect must also work on MacOS X and Linux (weather officially or unofficially, that doesn't matter, the point is that the USB devices must be no more proprietary than they are now, and not broken with a firmware update.)

    3. Price differential isn't warranted. The "Windows" model, if MS wants to take the extra effort, should have a removable base that a "clamp" base can be fixed (for clamping to a computer desk shelf) to, and not simply make a mini-tripod that will be knocked over by other stuff on the desk, and not those silly "webcam" clips for monitors that fall off the second you adjust the monitor.

    The only practical reason I can see for a Windows model specific is if the camera system was actually different and designed for closer use to a monitor.

  8. Kinect Fan says:

    Everybody whining and griping about the new Kinect for Windows business model.  Hey, keep in mind that none of the cool things we've seen with Kinect in 2010 would be possible if not for Microsoft.  I know the original technology came from our Israeli buddies at PrimeSense, but who made it available to the world? Microsoft.  I would gladly pay $500 for the commercial version!  $249 is a steal.  I already pre-ordered in Amazon.  🙂

    Let's face it, all the silly alternatives, such as OpenNI and OpenFrameworks are total crap compared to Kinect SDK.  For example, I have to do the Psi position to get skeletal tracking to start in OpenNI.  Man, that's just dumb.  🙂  And OpenFrameworks?  They're like a thousand miles behind in the game.

    Come on, dudes… Microsoft is a business.  Their goal is to make money.  Let the Man make some money for giving us such great technology.  Stop hating them so much.  What do you want them to do?  Make as little money as possible?  That doesn't make any sense.

    Oh and ahh… I'm not a Microsoft employee by the way.  I'm writing this comment from my beautiful 17-inch Macbook Pro.  Peace!  🙂

  9. I Need Highlights says:

    In Feb 2012:

    – Can we use Windows Kinect with Xbox? No. (may be a software update for Xbox might come in future to make it happen)

    – Can we use Windows Kinect with new Kinect SDK? Yes. (affirmative)

    – Can we use Xbox Kinect with new Kinect SDK? Unknown. (with beta its affirmative though)

    Please answer the unknow and CMIMW!

  10. JT says:

    [Judging by all the other comments I'm supposed to say something negative but I'm afraid I'm going to buck the trend.]

    This does seem pretty cool, and the best part of this whole Kinect thing is (IMO) the voice recognition. Can we expect that voice recognition capability to make it into Windows proper (i.e. without additional hardware required). I'd love to interact with Windows8 Metro apps using just my voice.


  11. Cheap License says:

    The Kinect today is $149.  So if the new Kinect for Windows is $249 and the commercial SDK is free, that means the commercial license is only a hundred bucks!  What the heck is everybody whining about?  Do you realize how hard these guys at Microsoft have worked to bring us this technology?  I met three of the Kinect SDK engineers at Carnegie Mello University last October at the Art && Code 3D Conference, and I gotta tell ya, these guys are smart!  I'm only paying them a hundred bucks for all of their hard work?  Microsoft is getting ripped off by the public!  Haha!

  12. Developers and businesses will pay $249, but Windows end users probably won't. Kinect should be used to drive Windows and PC sales. Like Siri is being used to drive iPhone sales. Don't be shortsighted Microsoft.

  13. Alex says:

    Not interchangeable?? IT'S CRAZY!!!!!!!!!! Bad bad decision! I wanted a Kinect for my xbox but now that I know that there will be no official Pc-compatibility (cause you need to buy a different bundle) I won't absolutely buy it.

  14. steven says:

    the kinect is not original, do you remember the eyetoy?

  15. xpclient says:

    Some of us got the retail version of Kinect that works with Xbox 360 but could also be used with the non-commercial SDK. Now they want us to shell out $$$ again for the one designed exclusively for PC. Hey MS, why don't give such people a free updated for-PC Kinect replacement? Next there might be a third Kinect for consumers exclusively obsoleting this too.

  16. Chris says:

    I have a Media Center PC and Kinect for Xbox. So…. am I supposed to stack these on each other?

  17. necrosis says:

    $100 over the 360 version? Are you fools mad?

  18. dave says:

    all well and good – but it's for PC only – what about those of us that live in shoebox size apartments and don't have the loft size playing area needed for Kinect to work already, i was hoping that this would work in both machines…

  19. Marc says:

    Will the new SDK work with the Kinect for Xbox hardware?

  20. Jon says:

    No one is connecting the dots… This is Phase One of pushing Skype..

  21. Karl says:

    I am very disappointed by this news.  One of the biggest value propositions for developing Kinect apps was the existing base of 18 million Kinect units.  While I understand that we can continue to use the non-commercial beta SDK, we can't make money off of this.  Then if we did want to make money off this, and one of the 18 million people who already have a Kinect come and want to use it, we have to tell them… what?  Sorry, while you do have a Kinect, you don't have the right one… go pay another $250 so that you can buy our app.  This decision really hurts people who actually want to make money, and therefore, great apps.

  22. Great Deal says:

    Before big ol' Ballmer announced the Feb 1 launch date, I was actually expecting to pay two to three hundred bucks for the SDK commercial license, given the newness of the technology.  When the announcement was finally made last night, at first I was surprised by the hardware-based business model, but come to think of it, it's a great deal!  For the price which I was expecting to pay for the SDK alone, Microsoft will give me a brand new Kinect with the enhanced camera plus the SDK.  I can't understand what the fuss is all about from all the people complaining.  They're probably broke college students who can't afford the $249!  Haha!

  23. TJA says:

    I'm still waiting for the Kinect to be able to take pics for my Xbox avatar……….

  24. Raeldor says:

    Wow, I love that you guys are releasing the SDK for free, that's awesome.  I'm tempted to get my hands dirty again with a little coding to see what can be done combining this with the Sony 3D HMD Personal Display.  Hmmm…

  25. Johan says:

    Who do  I bribe to get this to the scandinavian countries on Feb1? Any timeplan on when it will be available for us?

  26. aaron jacques says:

    i was holding off buying a kinects for my xbox this boxing day because i wanted to wait for this version

    I expected i would be able to hook it up to my pc to do development

    and unplug it and use it (xbox far mode only) on my xbox

    you can't have a backward compatiblity driver for this thing on the xbox.

    I understand not supporting the newer functionality but zero backwards compatiblity.

  27. carlos says:

    Is kinect for windows ready to do skeleton tracking of a person who is sitting? That would be great …

  28. whengreg says:

    $250 is alright if you have a plan that involves a few Kinects for an installation or internal use. It is completely inappropriate if you have a plan that involves selling the software. This increases the real price of a $20 app from $120 to $270.

  29. Tahir says:

    Wait a sec…so I recently got a Kinect sensor for me PC and with the existing SDK its working fine. After the Feb release, will I be able to use my existing sensor with the new SDK?

    Secondly, the new sensor that getting launched, is it superior to the existing sensor in any way?

  30. terry says:

    @Tahir, wait till 2nd Feb. Once you install the free SDK, connect your Xbox kinect with pc and see if your SDK works with it or not.

  31. Tahir says:

    @terry: Yeah it makes sense, but after Feb 2nd if it dawns that I am not able to, then it'll be a little too late for me to return my sensor. Right now I am eligible to at least send me existing sensor back if I can somehow know in advance that the upcoming SDK won't be compatible with my existing sensor.

    I am only interested in using the sensor with my PC so I really don't want to get 2 sensors.

  32. whengreg says:

    Reading carefully, I'm almost certain that the 360 sensor will only be compatible with the Beta SDK, and to use the Feb 1st release, you'll need the Windows sensor. You can continue to use the Beta SDK for a few years, but don't expect updates or support.

  33. Tahir says:

    @ whengreg: If that's the case, which I too now see is, then that would actually suck, not to mention the waste of money. What should we, who already are using the xbox sensor for development, do with our existing sensor? Unless there is some serious hardware upgrade, why didn't Microsoft just release a firmware upgrade, converting the existing sensors to kinect for windows sensors, saving us some bucks?

  34. Tahir says:

    @Microsoft: You gotta me kidding me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Xboxeador says:

    hola, soy argentino, no hablo ingles…. (I don't speak english) bueno les queria comentar que me parece raro que vallan a lanzar kinect para Windows PC, ya que el que lo valla a comprar, nesesitara tener una PC con buenas placas de video, y demas, yo tengo la Xbox 360 Slim, y hace poco me compre un Sensor Kinect, esta muy bueno, sigan inventando cosas asi, que lo hacen muy bien, suerte

  36. Kenny L says:

    Is there any info on when this will this be available in Sweden?

  37. Yam says:

    I'm sure getting a focal length switch incorporated or a pop in add on lens so PC and Xbox versions where interchangable would be easy and cheap.  We know you can hack the Xbox one to work on PC so this is just MS trying to get you to buy basically the same thing twice.  If you are trying to justify the 100 price diference at least up the resolution to HD at 60 FPS.  At that level of resolution you probably could do eye tracking which from what I understand the old Xbox one is not capable of doing.

  38. pissed off says:

    Microsoft, do you guys hire monkeys to market your #%#&?! Seriously, I got this sensor for xbox a month ago…

    I use your Windows Media Centre software and have been using it for quite some time! Funny enough as said before my xbox is under my TV…do you get it?????

    Money is not the deal here but for some I think it may be!! So now what you say is that I will have 2 stupid pieces of cheap plastic spoiling my setup!

    Do you know what I am going to give you guys the go…sick of spending thousands each year on crap….

    Hire people with fricken brians and stop poluting this earth with extra plastic we don't need!!!!

  39. Sam says:

    I think the xbox 360 console with Kinect is really cool.

    <a href="url">…/a>

  40. Hola says:

    So when and where can we buy in the UK?

  41. Simon says:

    I am really looking forward to get my hands on the windows version.

    With the windows version I will be able to produce commercial products with kinect –  Do i understand the article right? Please specify.


  42. bakpao says:

    I'll sell my xbox 360 with kinect to buy kinect for windows,.. XD

  43. Ela Iliesi says:

    Quiz question: Any idea when Xbox Kinect started selling in Romanian shops? Was t earlier than October 2011?

  44. DoFR says:

    It seems that Kinect for windows is not distributed in France. I did not find any distributor. Amazon is having Kinect for windows only on the US site. I did not find any distributor in the uk…

  45. hola_adios says:

    Apologies, but this must be the worst managed roll out of a product of this kind. Would anyone confirm when it will be available in the UK please?

  46. Joe says:

    So does Kinect for Windows work with Office right out of the box?  Can I use this hardware/software to gesture through my PowerPoint presentation?

  47. Non says:

    Did we really have to post the link for Qualified Educational Users??  Now all I'm getting is questions from students on how they can purchase Kinect at educational pricing!  Students please don't.  When they announce it, you'll be the first to know.  You're the first to find this blog!

  48. Jesse says:

    Not interchangeable and overpriced – I'll pass on this, and stick to the $99 Kinect I bought months ago.  

  49. marco_shaw says:

    @Joe: You won't have PowerPoint out of the box.  You'd need to write this yourself: Kinect->SDK->C#->COM->PowerPoint.

  50. sitapati says:

    bill gates mafia terrorising ppl (all over the world)

  51. sherry says:

    how can I use it in any other countries except the 12 countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom), whether I should unlock it first?

  52. KinectCapture is a powerful tool for recording, exporting, visualizing, and analyzing Microsoft Kinect sensor data. A trial version is available for download for free. For more information, please visit

  53. Mo says:


    I realise that this is an old post but wanted to find out if there are any plans to offer the Kinect for Windows at student prices in the UK? Seems a bit unfair for non US based students! :’(


  54. srinivas says:


    I am new to this kinect….

    how can i buy kinect?

  55. Kinect for Windows Team says:

    Hello Srinivas,

    The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor is currently available for pre-order in certain regions. Please check our website for more information on ordering:…/developer-sku.aspx Additionally, you will be able to download a public beta of the new Software Development Kit (SDK) 2.0 next week on July 15th.

    Please get more information on our website (listed above) or follow us on Twitter (@KinectWindows) or Facebook: On the website, you'll find more information on getting started, hardware requirements, examples of how Kinect for Windows is being used commercially, and features of both the SDK and sensor. On Twitter or Facebook, you'll stay up to date on news as it happens, as well as be able to connect with others in the Kinect for Windows community. Thanks and good luck!

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