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(Pocket-lint) - Just as Steve Ballmer promised when he mentioned a 1 February launch at CES, the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) is now officially available, alongside dedicated hardware for the motion gesture platform.

The Kinect for Windows sensor looks just like its Xbox 360 brethren truth be told, but is described by the Redmond based tech giant as "a fully-tested and supported Kinect experience on Windows" that has been built for developers.

It offers advanced speech and audio capabilities with the latest Microsoft Speech components; a macro style "near mode" making its short sighted skills a darn site better than ours (as close as 40cm in front of the sensor), improved skeletal tracking for picking out individuals and "a commercial ready installer that makes it easy to install Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments".

"It’s been just over a year since we launched Kinect for Xbox 360, and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible with Kinect," said Craig Eisler, general manager for Kinect for Windows.

"By offering hardware and software that’s designed specifically for Windows applications, we hope to inspire visionaries around the world to create transformative breakthroughs with Kinect - taking its gesture and voice capabilities beyond the living room into other industries such as education, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail."

Microsoft is said to be working with more than 300 different companies to build applications for Windows that use Kinect and it looks as if this doesn't just mean with the additional Kinect sensor. The Kinect's sensor tech, it seems, can be incorporated directly into a device as we recently reported with the curious case of the Asus Kinect laptops.

For now though, the official channel suggests using the new sensor. It's available in the States for $249 and will be hitting Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom soon.

Writing by Paul Lamkin.