Today, my Kinect for Windows device finally came in the mail - hooray! There's nothing quite like getting a device that you simply know will change the world showing up at your doorstep.
Kinect for Windows is a slightly altered device from the Kinect for Xbox. All I know about the differences are:
1) My Xbox's Kinect says XBOX 360 on the front of it, but my Kinect for Windows device says KINECT on the front of it
2) The Kinect for Windows device has an improved firmware, which allows for "Near Mode." Now, to be honest, when I first ordered the new device I was expecting that near mode meant there was going to be a cooler, better lens in the device. Turns out that's not the case... it's just an improved firmware. It's truly amazing what those Microsoft guys can do via code.
So, should you rush out and buy a Kinect for Windows..? In short... no. This device is in limited supply, for a very good reason. There's nothing to really do with it right now except develop software. That's right... there's no apps out yet that I can find. Nothing from Microsoft. And the box doesn't even come with a disk; the only thing you can do right now is download the SDK. And if you're not a developer type... well, you'll have a cool looking device from the future. But there's no real use for it right now.
However, and this is just me taking a wild stab in the dark, Microsoft has gotten really good at supporting developers early so that when things are ready (i.e. Windows 8), there will be software and tools out there for consumer to use.
My hunch is that Windows 8 will fully support the Kinect for Windows device. And when it does, develoers will have had a device sitting on their desktops for months, ready to unleash all kinds of awesome to the unassuming public.
That's my hunch... and my hope. Can't wait to see it come true!