Is Kinect coming to Windows?

A Windows-compatible version of the popular Microsoft Kinect peripheral is reportedly in the works.

Kinect – a motion-sensing peripheral originally launched on the Microsoft Xbox 360 – could be coming to the PC. At left, a Microsoft Kinect sensor.

Earlier this year, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, was asked whether he had plans to release a PC-compatible edition of the Kinect, a popular Xbox 360 peripheral. Ballmer replied only that the Kinect would hit the PC "at the right time." And by the "right time," he apparently meant really soon. As in 2011. According to the tech site Win Rumors, Microsoft is preparing a Kinect software development kit in advance of a Kinect roll-out for the PC.

"Microsoft is set to unveil driver support and a software development kit in the coming months and will allow third-party developers to create titles that utilize the Kinect sensor when plugged into a PC," Tom Warren of Win Rumors writes today. "According to sources familiar with the plans, Microsoft will distribute the drivers under the 'beta' tag." Warren added that Kinect support is expected to be integrated into the next version of Windows.

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And why not? Kinect has been a smash hit. As we reported back in November, the motion-sensing peripheral performed especially well during the Black Friday rush and the post-Thanksgiving weekend. At the CES expo earlier this month, Ballmer announced that Microsoft had sold more than 8 million Kinect units to date – well above the original estimate of 5 million units sold.

Kinect's success was in part driven by a solid crop of reviews in the tech press. (Although many critics continue to argue that the Kinect needs better games if it is to succeed in the long-term.) The Kinect, wrote Luke Westaway of CNET UK is "absolutely" fun to play, "so long as you don't mind sacrificing all of the dignity you've spent your whole life accruing.

Playing the Kinect is embarrassing, Westaway added, "but that's a big part of the fun. Similarly, watching your friends flailing around like loonies is a treat not to be missed."

For more, check out our report on the future of motion-sensing technology.

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