Kinect for Windows launching February 1 at $249

The jazzed-up Windows PC version of Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect controller will officially launch on February 1, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday. Reflecting the fact that it's intended more for professional uses than home consumers, the Windows Kinect kit will cost $100 more than the Xbox 360 bundle--$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," Kinect for Windows GM Craig Eisler explained.

Kinect for Windows, on the other hand, will be supported entirely by the hardware sales, as the software development kit and runtime will be offered free to developers.

While the beta SDK released last year supported the Xbox 360 sensor, the new SDK will require the official Kinect for Windows platform. However, things made using the beta for Xbox 360 hardware will still work for now, as Microsoft has extended the license by three years to June 16, 2016.

The Kinect for Windows sensor boasts the addition of a 'Near Mode,' which can see close objects better than the Xbox 360 version--down to 50cm clearly, or 40cm with a little degradation.

Microsoft also plans to introduce an academic price of $149 "later this year."