Microsoft preparing official Kinect drivers and SDK for Windows

By Tom Warren, on 17th Jan 11 11:44 am with 17 Comments

Kinect plugged into a Windows 7 PC

Microsoft is currently preparing an official Kinect SDK and driver support for Windows based PCs.

Microsoft revealed at CES earlier this month that the company has sold over 8 million Kinect sensors in just 60 days on the market. Microsoft’s Kinect sensor has been a phenomenal success story for the company. The console accessory sold out across a number of retailers during the recent festive season and Microsoft smashed its own estimates of 5 million units in 2010 by shipping 8 million devices.

Whilst Microsoft is shifting as many devices as it can, hackers are hard at work ripping apart Microsoft’s controller-less Xbox 360 accessory. Recent developments have shown off Minority Report style multitouch control and the Kinect running on Mac OS X. Microsoft said in November that it left the USB connection on the Kinect open, “by design.” Kinect “hackers” have recently taken the device to new heights. Videos emerged of device owners fully controlling Windows 7 and interactive prototype puppets. Kinect hacking is only at the very early stages but what’s clear is hackers are demonstrating the potential of the technology for use on PCs.

WinRumors understands that Microsoft officials are currently readying an official SDK and Kinect drivers for Windows. Microsoft is set to unveil driver support and an SDK in the coming months and will allow third-party developers to create titles that utilize the Kinect sensor when plugged into a PC. According to sources familiar with the plans, Microsoft will distribute the drivers under the “beta” tag. One source, who refused to be named, suggested that Microsoft is looking to incorporate the support into a forthcoming “Community Technical Preview” of the company’s XNA Game Studio tools. Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, promised Kinect for PC during an interview at CES and confirmed the company would announce official support “in the right time.”

Microsoft is expected to integrate Kinect support into its next version of Windows. Microsoft recently purchased 3D gesture experts Canesta. Microsoft’s investment in this technology is likely to see them focus heavily on bringing gesture based control to Windows 8. In early 2010, a number of Windows 8 product slides leaked from a HP employee that pointed towards some new product features. Kinect integration, a Windows App Store and fast boot were all promised. Microsoft previously purchased 3DV systems, who also create gesture recognition technology. With the push for this technology in gaming, it’s only natural that Microsoft would also want to port this to Windows.

  • Anonymous

    Well i suppose i can try it on my laptop… connect it to my laptop and laptop connected to my TV, but what’s the use when i already have Xbox 360

    • Grannyville7989

      It would be a good way of developers building apps that use the Kinect in preparation for Windows 8 that is rumored to have this technology built into it.

    • Anonymous

      its highly unlikely, for Kinect to work you need 8 feet of space.

    • Grannyville7989

      They could use some of the features of the Kinect to take advantage of the webcam built into your laptop, such a facial recognition.

    • Xofis

      Only for full skeleton for gaming, not if you hack it and get the raw data. In that case it can detect individual fingertips.

    • Dfgdsfg

      You obviously know nothing about Kinect.

  • mackenziepricee

    But doesn’t the Kinect Sensor have a special USB? I know you can modify it but a general consumer won’t be doing that.

    Maybe they are going to be selling a PC friendly Kinect Sensor also?

    Kinect for Windows.

    • Grannyville7989

      I have a Kinect and it just uses the standard USB connector to plug into the Xbox.

    • Tom W

      Kinect has a normal USB port. I have it plugged into my PC just fine.

    • mackenziepricee

      Ah okay. Thanks for the heads up Tom and Granny.

    • Bakamoichigei

      I just got a Kinect yesterday to utilize apps like ‘Brekel Kinect 3D scanner’ and the accompanying MotionBuilder mocap support. The unit itself does NOT have a standard USB plug. It has USB+Power. The cord from the wall transformer that powers it then splits off to a regular USB.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this is like way cool dude. Wow

  • Grannyville7989

    It would be a good way for those who have Media Center PCs hooked up to their TV and using the Kinect to navigate through their media collection.

  • Bodz

    I’m glad microsoft have softened their stance regarding cross platform support, as a Kinect owner with an Xbox 360 and a PC it makes sense to do this rather than shoot themselves in the foot. Just considering is navigational options would be just the start. There would be a greater percentage of non-gaming software products released on PC than would ever be likely on the 360. I’m developing a project called Virtual Painter that will go beyond Paint Party.. rememthat was show in 09 at the E3 when Project Natal was first introduced.

    • Travis

      Has their stance actually changed? I think all along they were secretly planning to roll out PC support in due time. They just want to be the ones to do it. That way they can control the marketing and have a head-start on the first wave of software releases.

      Microsoft was miffed at the hacked drivers because it stole their thunder. Not because the device was intended to be 360 exclusive forever.

  • Mn8Multimedia

    This is great. I can’t wait to use the Kinect on the PC for the new games we are working on.

  • Ted

    We have seen nothing yet but the very basic expectations from Kinect, it’s capable of far greater minute detailed control, it needs more time and of course once the official Microsoft drivers are released we shall start seeing Arcade and Indie games exploiting it’s potential, not forgetting the full commercial release titles. Another six months should put Kinect in a really healthy place when it comes to diversity of title choices out there to choose from.

    On the PC platform there are many reasons why Microsoft were always going to release official drivers and that was for the Arcade and Indie game developers, this of course also opens it up for some great potential also on the PC too, i can see exciting times ahead not just for gaming but also in the desire to widen the creative horizon in art and multimedia.

    On the subject of distances required for kinect you do not strictly need 8 feet, you can do just as well with 6 feet, but remember just because it does full skeleton does not mean it needs to, we shall go beyond sporting sims in months to come and full or half skeleton will undoubtedly used to varying degrees. I think the Kinect is a positive move in the right direction in more ways than one.