As promised, Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows has launched on 1st of February 2012, bundling together a Kinect unit and a commercial license for the hardware. Microsoft is heavily pitching the bundle squarely toward industries outside video games, suggesting that Kinect should move “beyond the living room into other industries such as education, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail.”

As part of this new push, Microsoft is encouraging businesses to take part in the Kinect Accelerator program, which offers the chance for startups to receive funding for innovative Kinect projects.

The Kinect for Windows package retails for $249. The hardware features “advanced speech and audio capabilities” as well as “improved skeletal tracking that enables control over which user is being tracked by the sensor.” The unit also features “near mode” which recognizes objects “as close as 40 centimeters in front of the sensor.”

Will these improvements be implemented in the console hardware? Is it even possible? We’re looking into it.