Setting up the Kinect with Windows/ni-mate; driver issues

Last night, Ethan, Naithan and I managed to get the Xbox Kinect working with Ethan’s Windows machine that was having problems. The main issue turned out to be the drivers, and the most important thing we learnt was this:

Do not plug in the Kinect before the correct driver software is loaded!

What happened on Ethan’s machine (and very likely others where they’ve been having trouble) is that the default Windows drivers for the Kinect was already installed in the system (probably after the device was plugged in for the first time). Most of the other apps that use the Kinect make use of a different driver (PrimeSense), and the driver is bundled with some applications. However, if you had already plugged the Kinect in before installing the software, the default drivers will be used and the new drivers will not take effect. The default drivers that get installed are actually for another device, “Kinect for Windows” which is actually different from the ones we’re using, which is the “Kinect for Xbox“! The Windows version of the Kinect costs about $400 and has some “advanced” features that are only accessible through Windows… but I digress.

If you are in this situation, you need to remove the old drivers. The tricky part is that the Kinect must be connected for the drivers to show up in Windows Device Manager. Once there, right click on anything that says “Kinect …” and uninstall them all.


Once the drivers are uninstalled, unplug the Kinect, and install the new software/driver. We used ni-mate and it worked great. The ni-mate installation comes with the drivers, and once the installation is complete, plug in the Kinect and the working drivers will be applied.

The caveat with ni-mate, as others have already discovered, is that the free license a.) runs with a time limit/nag screen and b.) you need a license key associated with a specific, physical device. The good news is that the license keys can be shared on multiple computers, as long as you use the Kinect that is attached to it. Ethan has the one license key (for the Kinect with the duct tape on it) and I believe Greg (correct me if I’m wrong) has the other one. Therefore, if anyone else needs to use ni-mate please ask these guys for the keys.

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