Microsoft announces Kinect for Windows, Newscorp apps for Xbox 360

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 will be the last one where Microsoft will give a keynote, at least for now. The company didn’t exactly go out with a bang at this CES but they did bring along some interesting announcements. The company used the giant electronics show to announce a slew of Newscorp apps for Xbox 360 as well as Kinect for Windows, which launches in February.

Microsoft announces Kinect for Windows, Newscorp apps for Xbox 360

Microsoft didn’t have a ton of announcements to unveil at their CES keynote but they did have quite a bit to say about the Xbox 360 and content providers. One announcement from the company brings a slew of Newscorp content to the Xbox dashboard. Fox News and Wall Street Journal content, as well as favorite Fox shows, will be available on the console live and on demand. That app is coming at some point this year but Microsoft didn’t give any specific date.

The most notable announcement that Microsoft made during their CES keynote was that Kinect for Windows would be available on February 1, 2012. That date will be valid for 12 countries including the US, UK, Canada, and Western Europe. The package will include the Kinect hardware, Windows software, and ongoing updates for both speech and human tracking.

The catch is that the suggested retail price of this kit is $249, which is $100 more than the price of the attachment for the Xbox 360 and the Windows version doesn’t even come with any games. The press release indicates that there will be educational pricing available for the Windows Kinect package, bringing it down to $149. One would imagine that kind of offer would extend from elementary schools up to Universities interested in the Kinect technology.

There are some notable changes to Kinect to make it work with the Windows platform. The short version is Microsoft did have to pour quite a bit of work into adapting the system to work at smaller distances. Kinect for Windows supports detection as close as approximately 50cm. In addition, voice and gesture controls are integrated into Windows systems, which is both interesting and potentially useful.

The real question is, why is Kinect for Windows so much more expensive than it is for Xbox 360? Microsoft addressed that concern directly saying,

“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.”

That explanation does make sense but the big jump in price makes this package really unattractive to anyone except developers and academics. I’m personally guessing the biggest group to buy these things will be University research groups looking to expand the Kinect technologies into a wider range of applications for speech and human tracking.

Do you have any interest in Kinect for Windows? Let us know what you think about the system and the price in the comments.