Microsoft has announced that developers will soon be able to charge for Windows software that uses a Kinect as an input device. A non-commercial beta SDK for Windows development has been available to download from Microsoft Research since April, along with various programming resources. But profiting from desktop development has so far been prohibited.
That restriction should be lifted soon after the new year, apparently.
Last Christmas, Microsoft's Kinect was by far and away the most interesting thing happening on consoles. The web cam based motion controller with built in voice recognition rather showed PlayStation Move and the Wii Wand what for and threatened to revolutionise something or other about the way we interact with computers.
A year on, and things have gone bizarrely quiet. There still aren't many Kinect games for Xbox 360, and while there's a pretty good unofficial driver for getting Kinect working with Windows games , it's still more of a curiosity than a must-try.
Perhaps wisely, Microsoft isn't targeting PC gamers in the built up to a proper Kinect for Windows launch. Instead it's quoting some 200+ companies that are investigating the potential of the motion sensor around the office. What Microsoft is definitely not saying – but which seems obvious to any observer – is that the Metro interface of Windows 8 should work rather well with a gesture-based controller, and not just touch screens.
But there is enormous game potential on the PC. Check out the video of Rome: Total War running with Kinect and voice commands below.