Kinect SDK for Windows Coming in 'Spring'

In mid-January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the Kinect motion-capture gaming controller would come to the PC, officially that is, "at the right time." Microsoft appears to have decided that the right time is Spring 2011.

In an official blog post on Monday, Feb. 21, Microsoft said that the Kinect SDK for Windows will be available then. Microsoft's post acknowledged that the community that has arisen since the introduction of the Kinect has demonstrated the "depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology."

It will be a non-commercial Kinect for Windows SDK, but a commercial version will be released "later." The non-commercial version will be free. Microsoft chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie and interactive entertainment business (IEB) president Don Mattrick announced the planned SDK this morning.

Here's what Microsoft said, in part:
The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology. Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what’s next in natural and intuitive technology. For example, in January I mentioned Craig’s talk at the Cleveland Clinic, where he highlighted students at the University of Washington’s Biorobotics Lab using Kinect with a commercially available PHANTOM Omni Haptic Device to explore how robotic surgery could be enhanced by incorporating the sense of feel.

The Kinect for Windows SDK is being developed and released by Microsoft Research (MSR) in collaboration with IEB. It will be available this spring as a free download, and will give academic researchers and enthusiasts access to key pieces of the Kinect system—such as the audio technology, system application programming interfaces and direct control of the Kinect sensor itself.

Supporting this community and enabling creativity around natural user interfaces (NUI) is important to us, and our hope is that this SDK will ignite further creativity in an already vibrant ecosystem of enthusiasts. We are very excited by this announcement. Not only does it showcase our investment in this important technology trend, but it ensures that people have the tools they desire to revolutionize how people interact with technology.
At first Microsoft seemed to take a dim view of what it called "hacking" the Kinect. It's interesting how quickly the company changed its mind.