Microsoft may have dropped the Kinect as an essential component of the XBox, but there are a lot of programmers waiting to get their hands on the Windows version. Now you can - and the price is not bad.
At the last BUILD Microsoft announced that the new Kinect would be coming to Windows in the summer. Given that summer is here you might be wondering where it is. The good news is that you can now pre-order the device for $199 and expect it to be shipped in July.
If you don't pre-order then you might have to wait a few months for it to become generally available. The new SDK will be released in beta when the pre-order units ship and the final version will be included with it when the Kinect goes on general sale.
The $199 price isn't as high as some speculated. In the case of the Kinect v2 there isn't the easy option of using an Xbox device because that version uses a special connector.
The Kinect v2 promises lots of new clever applications. It has a much higher depth field resolution due to the use of a time-of-flight sensor. It also has a much higher video resolution. The Xbox device, for example, has already been demoed tracking individual fingers - something that the old Kinect couldn't manage.
Even with a lot of the difficult processing being done in the Kinect itself, it could still be a struggle to get the PC to keep up without the help of a GPU.