The announcement was made by Steven Clayton on the official Microsoft blog, and of course references the hacker community that has blossomed around Microsoft's innovative device, highlighting that it is used for more than mere entertaining but otherwise useless hacks.
"The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology. Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what's next in natural and intuitive technology," Clayton writes, "For example, in January I mentioned Craig's talk at the Cleveland Clinic, where he highlighted students at the University of Washington's Biorobotics Lab using Kinect with a commercially available PHANTOM Omni Haptic Device to explore how robotic surgery could be enhanced by incorporating the sense of feel."
The Kinect for Windows SDK, as it's officially called, will be released somewhere in the Spring, and is developed by Microsoft Research in cooperation with Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. It will be an entirely free download so that hackers and professional researchers alike can get, well, hacking.
"Microsoft's investments in natural user interfaces are vital to our long-term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us," said Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, “The fruits of these research investments are manifesting across many of our products, Kinect for Xbox 360 among them.”
A very clever move by Microsoft, and a breath of fresh air after the likes of Sony and Apple.