Microsoft, a company long known for its proprietary software, licensing programs and aversion to open-source technology, will be tearing down the development walls built around its massively successful Kinect attachment for the Xbox 360. The company is releasing a commercial software development kit (SDK) for the Kinect in early 2012.

The announcement was made just days before the one year anniversary of the North American release date of the Kinect, which is when the device became the fastest-selling consumer electronics device according to Guinness World Records, beating devices such as the Apple iPhone, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation.

Earlier this year, in June, Microsoft offered the Kinect SDK to academics and other developers who were not using the technology to build something profitable. Early developers were merely experimenting to see what type of everyday applications the Kinect could be used for.

Microsoft now plans to open the floodgates, something the company rarely does with its products. With the commercial SDK, developers will be allowed to create software to work with the Kinect that generates profits.

According to a press release, more than 200 businesses, including 25 Fortune 500 companies, have joined a global pilot program to explore Kinect's commercial possibilities. Toyota, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Razorfish are among those that signed up for the pilot program.

The Kinect SDK will run on Windows 7, but there's no word out about whether the development kit will work with Windows 8, which has been previewed by the company at several conventions during the year, including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.