Not only did Microsoft flip-flop on hackers playing with Kinect technology, but it might release an offical driver soon.
Back when Kinect came out in November, Adafruit Technologies offered a $3000 reward to the first hacker who wrote a custom driver to communicate with the sensor and provide video and depth information. That prize was claimed by a programmer named Hector, and his driver has fueled hacks from the amazing to the erotic (If you find jiggly boobs hot, that is.) At first, Microsoft seemed to frown on Adafruit's contest, but they soon backtracked and claimed that using the USB interface implicitly made Kinect "open." Now, inside sources reported to the site Winrumors that Microsoft will soon release a full Software Developer Kit (SDK) with an official driver for Kinect to work with your PC.
During an interview at CES, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that he was interested in supporting all of the Kinect hacks that have been all over the internet "in the right time." That may mean that his company is working on it already and he's just buying time.
The unnamed source claimed that the Kinect drivers will be distributed in a "beta" state, likely so that the company won't be liable to provide full tech support for an advanced technology. There was no information on a date to expect Microsoft to release the driver, but the source said that he expects Kinect support to be bundled with the "Community Technical Preview" of an update to XNA Game Studio 4.0. Last year, Microsoft released such a preview during GDC 2010 and the final version came out in September.
Does that mean we'll see XNA Game Studio 5.0 announced at GDC 2011 with full Kinect support?
*shakes Magic 8 ball*
Signs point to yes.