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CES: Kinect coming to Windows PC on February 1, priced at $249

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It was only a matter of time before we'd see the Kinect for PC - and it looks like the time is sooner than we thought.  Microsoft revealed at their press conference at CES 2012 that the Kinect Sensor will be available for Windows PC by February 1, 2012 - less than a month away.

Given the success of the Kinect on the Xbox 360, it's no surprise that they are bringing the motion tracking technology to PC.  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed that they have sold more than 18 million Kinect sensors since its launch in late 2012.  And according to Ballmer, that is only the start of it.  Ballmer confirmed that there are 200 companies working ion Kinect for Windows.

"We are just getting started, it's going to be amazing," he added.

Unfortunately, if you do own a Kinect for the Xbox 360 it won't be of use.  The new Kinect for Windows requires you to purchase a brand new Windows sensor - and it isn't cheap. The Kinect for Windows has a suggested retail price of $249.

"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," excplained general manager Craig Eisler on the Kinect for Windows blog.

One major difference between the Windows and Xbox 360 Kinect is the brand new "near mode".  This new firmware enables the depth camera to see objects as close at 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision.  In addition, it will enable a whole new class of "close up" applications, beyond the living room scenarios for the Kinect for Xbox 360.

"This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch," Eisler explained.

Kinect for Windows will launch in 12 countries (U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, the UK, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain) and will be available in limited quantities at first.  You can currently see the Kinect for Windows on Amazon which will be released on February 1, 2012.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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