Microsoft Windows 8.1 To Offer Native Support for 3D Printing

There are a slew of new features reportedly coming to Windows 8.1, formerly codenamed Windows "Blue." From the passionately requested Start/Boot to Desktop, to simple things like additional Live Tile sizes, to universal Bing search from within any app in Windows, Microsoft is planning a major-league update with this latest Windows 8 release.  During Microsoft's BUILD developer's conference live stream opening keynote today, we picked up on a major feature addition that had us grinning ear to extruded ABS ear.  As it turns out, Microsoft decided to bake 3D Printing support right into this Windows 8.1 update.

Windows 8.1 Natively supports 3D Printers
Windows 8.1 will natively support 3D Printers with drivers and API support.

Apparently Microsoft has already built in the necessary APIs and drivers for many devices and will be offering Makerbot's line of 3D printers through the Microsoft store.  Microsoft's Antoine Leblond also then showcased a CUBE 3D printer as well and said "this one is going to be offered at Staples." 

We have to give MSFT a proverbial pat on the back for thinking ahead of the curve on this.  Or perhaps some of you might say they're actually just catching up with the times. If you've been keeping a pulse on the 3D Printing market and the technology in general, you'll know that its explosive rate of growth, both in terms of product offerings and capabilities, is really what you might call "the next big thing."  Sure, smartphones are impressive but if you've ever seen a 3D printer create something before your very eyes,  the enormous potential is obviously impressive; and we've only seen the tip of this technological iceberg.

Windows 8.1 Desktop
3D Printing coming to a desktop near you soon... (Microsoft Corp.)

The kicker is going to be how well these new devices are supported and which manufacturers come on board first.  Sure, Cube 3D printers and Makerbots are almost what you'd call "mainstream" now.  However, if you're in-the-know with 3D Printing, you'll understand that part of what makes the technology so great, are its RepRap roots and the cottage industry of small businesses behind it, producing wonderfully inventive little machines that can build almost anything out of extruded plastic.