Plug a Kinect Into Your Windows PC From 1 February For $249

During their CES keynote, Microsoft mentioned their launch of Kinect for Windows. Now the details are here — but why's it so much more expensive than the Xbox version?

Kinect for Windows will be available on 1 February 2012 across 12 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and western Europe. When it goes on sale, the suggested retail price will be $249, according to Microsoft's announcement.

What do you get for that? Physically, not much more than you get for Xbox: the hardware, Windows software, and ongoing software updates for both speech and human tracking. They're also introducing a special educational pricing — no doubt just as much for academics as for school kids — which will make it $149.

So, are there any revelations in the tech? One is striking: near mode. If you've used a Kinect at close-range before, you'll know that they, well, just don't work very well. To optimize the device for use with a PC, Microsoft have had to pour a lot of time and effort into getting that working at a distance of around 50cm, so it'll be interesting to see how well it works. It will also support gesture and voice commands for many embedded Windows systems, which could prove useful. I'm not going to go into how the changes affect developers, but if you're interested, you should read their blog post.

But, the big question is: why's it so much more expensive than Kinect for Xbox? According to Microsoft:

"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."

Fair enough. Somehow, I suspect this Windows version won't sell as well as the Xbox version, but we'll have to wait and see. [MSDN Blog; Image: bfishadow]