Microsoft's Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit is out of beta today with a fully supported 1.0 release. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previously promised that Kinect for Windows would go official on February 1st during his CES keynote last month, and the company delivered the final bits to developers this morning. The final release adds support for up to four Kinect sensors on one PC, "near mode" functionality for the Kinect for Windows hardware, and the usual fixes and API improvements.
Microsoft says its Kinect for Windows hardware is shipping today in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and United Kingdom, although an Amazon listing suggests there's a one to two month wait for stock. Retailing at $249, the hardware will provide support for the new "near mode" feature, unique to Kinect for Windows, that allows the depth camera to see objects as close as 50cm away "without losing accuracy or precision." Microsoft says it will introduce special academic pricing of $149 for Qualified Educational Users later this year. Now that developers have the SDK and hardware, all that remains is the magical applications that Microsoft hopes will create a Kinect effect.