The Xbox 360 Kinect sensor didn't make much of an impact in gaming over the last few years, but its PC compatibility armed students, doctors and engineers with a cheap depth sensor that led to amazing applications in robotics, education and other fields. No, seriously.
However, Xbox One's Kinect sensor won't be compatible with Windows 8 PCs, with an entirely separate PC model slated for release next year.
"The Kinect for Xbox One sensor will not have an adapter that allows it to plug into a computer," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica. "The new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will connect to computers using a standard USB3 port," they explained, in contrast to the Xbox One model that sports a proprietary connector.
"The new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will be a fully tested, licensed, and supported Kinect experience on Windows," the representative continued. "Kinect for Xbox One is being built for and tested with the Xbox One."
To be honest, we can see the logic here, at least on paper. Rather than an optional peripheral, Kinect is a fundamental and mandatory part of the Xbox One user experience, and unplugging it will effectively neuter the console. However, many developers will be galled to learn that they might not be able to publish the same software across both platforms, or may have to shell out for two Kinect sensors in extreme cases.
Microsoft will launch 'Kinect For Windows' in 2014, and make the SDK available shortly thereafter.