Kinect for Windows v2 hits preorder as Microsoft crows potential

Microsoft may be offering the Xbox One without Kinect for motion-uninterested gamers, but it's also counting on plenty of Windows users and developers being interested in the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. Up for preorder today, the new sensor bar – effectively the same hardware as for the Xbox One, but designed to work with the updated Windows SDK – is expected to ship in limited numbers from July.

First on the list of recipients will be those who took part in Microsoft's Developer Preview program, and who have been supplying the company with a list of their proposed apps, games, and other uses for the sensor.

The possibilities have been broad, Microsoft says, from the somewhat predictable selection of finger-tracking and touch-free controls, through to more unusual applications like hands-free assembly line tools, and environmental monitoring.

Meanwhile, Microsoft itself is also looking at how Kinect could be better integrated, including pulling in elements from across the company's range of platforms, like putting the Cortana virtual personal assistant from Windows Phone on the desktop or even as the guide to a smart home. Back at BUILD 2014, Xbox app and developer relations chief Michael Mott told us that Microsoft wasn't looking for a single "killer app" for Kinect, but instead a portfolio of must-have functionality to prove the sensor's worth.

The sensor is up for preorder from today, priced at $199.

Persuading gamers to use Kinect has seen mixed results, however, with Microsoft bowing to pressure and deciding to offer an Xbox One package without the bar. The new bundle – which also helps bring the price under the $400 mark – will hit shelves next week.

It'll also launch alongside a new SDK for Xbox developers, which will allow them to optionally take advantage of the graphics processing that would normally be earmarked for Kinect. Microsoft says games could feasibly see a 10-percent performance boost by tapping into the reserved GPU grunt.

SOURCE Microsoft