This is just in: Microsoft has just made available their beta Software Development Kit (SDK) for their Kinect for Windows. With the recent trend of more games that used to be “console only” having sequels that are being developed to include PC (such as Metal Gear Solid Rising in 2012) and game companies we thought would go the “console only” route but didn’t, instead opting to continue to develop titles for PC as well (such as the Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty series), it’s pretty apparent that the PC platform still stands strong for people who want the ultimate productivity and gaming machine. I think Microsoft is starting to take note and hence released this SDK for Kinect for Windows.
It could also be that Microsoft wants to make Windows ‘more appealing’ versus the various variety of mobile operating systems as well as ‘more fun’ and appealing to the average consumer, to prevent Apple OS X from eroding their marketshare. And there are other practical applications for Kinect such as simulation and action-mirroring remote control of limbed-machines; but I’d say it’s mostly going to appeal to games and gamers.
What’s interesting is this could be the beginning of the end of game consoles, and such a move could be triggered by Microsoft. Microsoft’s XBox 360 has mostly been a game machine and never looked at as a multimedia/all in one entertainment system as much as the Playstation 3. Instead home theater PC’s are Microsoft’s separate answer to Apple TV and Playstation 3’s being used as Blu-ray players. With Microsoft spreading the ‘XBox Live’ branding across to their Windows Phone, could it be that one day we will see the ‘XBox’ brand as nothing more than a feature for conventional Windows and Windows Phone, instead of a make of ‘game consoles’?
It is plausible, since PC’s have always been THE platform for the definitive high-resolution, immersed gaming experience, with increasing PC users hooking up their machines to large TV’s to double as movie watching/couch surfing solutions AND the Xbox 360 being in the market for ages now (and time for a predecessor), now could be a good time for Microsoft to ‘kill off’ Xbox as a piece of hardware, and move the brand to be a ‘gaming ecosystem’ on their phones and desktops/laptops. Also, many mainstream laptops nowadays have more than enough power to beat consoles at detail and frame rate levels, at similar resolutions.
But well, we won’t jump up and down with utter excitement just yet until Microsoft officially reveals their true purpose/intentions/plans for rolling out an SDK for Kinect on Windows, which also begs the question whether we will one day see a similar SDK for Kinect on Mac OS/iOS. Meanwhile, if you’re interested, you can head over to the portal Microsoft has set up for Kinect for Windows SDK, take a look and maybe grab a copy of that SDK if you feel like developing something.