Kinect for Windows carries $249 price tag

Microsoft’s launching Kinect for Windows on February 1, aiming to capitalize on its success as the fastest selling consumer electronics device ever – but it’s not going to be cheap.

Retailing at a suggested price of $249, it’s a good £100 more expensive than the Xbox 360.

“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,” says Craig Eisler, general manager, Kinect for Windows on a company blog.

One improvement over the Xbox 360, though, is the inclution of a near mode, designed to improve performance at close range. The company says the system’s depth camera can see objects as close as 50 centimeters, without losing accuracy or precision, and with ‘graceful’ degradation down to 40 centimeters.

“This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums,” says Eisler.

But Microsoft has ambitions for the platform that go way beyond gaming.

As well as support for Windows 7 and the Windows 8 developer preview – desktop apps only – Kinect for Windows will support gesture and voice on Windows Embedded-based devices. The company’s hoping to see it taken up by the manufacturing, retail and other industries.

“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,” says Eisler. 

“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. “

Microsoft’s already working with more than 200 companies, including American Express, Mattel, Toyota and the United Health Group, on Kinect for Windows applications.