The first version of the Kinect for Windows was basically a science experiment, a way for developers to get up to speed on the motion sensor and its unique capabilities. But in the years since that release, no major Kinect apps ever appeared on Windows. Will next week's release of Kinect v2 for Windows—a device that is clearly based on the Xbox One version of Kinect—change things at all?
It doesn't appear so.
While Microsoft hasn't publicized the device recently, it appeared on the Microsoft Store online for $199 this past week, and is listed with a preorder price of $199. That's $50 less than the cost of the original Kinect for Windows, go figure. But then the firm still isn't targeting consumers—let alone gamers—with this device. It's still aimed solely at developers.
"Develop interactive applications that recognize peoples' natural movements, gestures, and voice commands," the description notes. "The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor gives developers more of the precision, responsiveness, and intuitive capabilities they need to develop interactive voice- and gesture-based applications for the Windows desktop and Windows Store. The v2 sensor is intended for use with the Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) 2.0."
More alarming, the description notes that, like its predecessor, Kinect v2 for Windows "does not ship with any software." It's a developer tool only.
$200 is of course a bit steep, given that Microsoft only dropped the price of the Xbox One by $100 to $399 when it introduced the Kinect-less version of the console last month. I suspect the price is aimed at keeping away casual users who are looking forward to Wii-like weekend nights with their Media Center PCs.
Back in November, Microsoft said that this version of the Kinect sensor—which I think of as the third generation version since the previous Windows version was an improvement over the Xbox 360 original—would be coming to Windows in 2014. But the firm never said anything about a version of the sensor for end users, and it's not clear when or if that will ever happen.