Let all remaining skepticism about the mainstream viability of 3D printing slink quietly, and ashamed of itself, through the back door. When a company like Microsoft announces that plug-and-play 3D printing support will be available in its next version of Windows (version 8.1, which will be released in August), it’s a pretty good indicator that the technology in question is here to stay.
But, Microsoft isn’t expected to stop at making it easy to print using the Windows platform. Speculation that Microsoft may release its own printer, or may at least partner closely with a major existing industry player, abounds. Rumors of existing partnerships with printer, software, and ancillary product manufacturers like Makerbot, 3D Systems, Form Labs, Autodesk have been reported. While relationships such as these could certainly have been in place to facilitate the aforementioned printer support, it’s also quite possible that talks such as these could lead to something more.