Microsoft Prepping Kinect For Windows 7 PCs?

Reports indicate that the hands-free motion control platform for Xbox 360 may be coming to PCs sooner rather than later.
Microsoft is reportedly working on software that would make Windows PCs compatible with its Kinect hands-free motion controller, which at present works only with the Xbox 360 gaming console.

According to the WinRumors blog, Microsoft is preparing Kinect drivers for Windows 7, and also plans to release a software development kit that would allow developers to write Kinect apps and games that can run on a Windows PC.

WinRumors said Microsoft would release the utilities "in the coming months." The company has not confirmed the report.

It's not the first time reports of Kinect software for Windows PCs have surfaced. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the BBC that his company would introduce Kinect on Windows "in a formal way in the right time."

Microsoft launched Kinect for the Xbox 360 platform in November, selling more than 2.5 million units in its first month on the market. The system features cameras and audio inputs that allow users to interact with games through physical gestures. Unlike the Nintendo Wii, Kinect users don't need to grasp any hardware devices during game play.

Kinect could inject some new life into Microsoft's aging Windows franchise. Though it's still by far the dominant operating system for desktops and laptops, Windows is under threat from new form factors, such as smartphones and laptops, that mostly use software from Microsoft rivals like Apple and Google.

The circuitry behind Kinect is also making its way to the PC market through non-Microsoft channels. Prime Sense, an Israeli startup that developed the motion-sensing chips used in Kinect, has licensed the technology to Taiwanese computer maker ASUS.

ASUS has embedded the chips in its new WAVI Xtion media center, which adds PC and Web capabilities to flat-screen televisions. The console lets viewers control on-screen menus and surf the Web through simple hand gestures.

PrimeSense has released the programming code for software that controls its chips to its open source OpenNI developer community, in an effort to ensure a rich ecosystem of applications that work with the technology.