Microsoft announced plans to launch the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software for PCs on February 1, 2012 in a dozen countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It will run $249 and be available in limited quantities at first, which means you'll have to be on the ball if you're looking to score one in time for Valentine's Day.
The price is steep compared to the Xbox 360 version, though Microsoft said it will offer special academic pricing ($149) for Qualified Educational Users later this year. Microsoft explained why it's priced so much higher on the PC.
"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. In addition, the Kinect for Xbox 360 was built for and tested with the Xbox 360 console only, which is why it is not licensed for general commercial use, supported or under warranty when used on any other platform," Microsoft said.
On the bright side, Microsoft has chosen to charge for the hardware only, making the SDK and runtime available to developers free of charge. We've already seen some nifty things on the Kinect via Windows mods, and on that note, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft's scheme backfires, with users opting to purchase the Xbox 360 version and using it with their Windows PCs.