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Microsoft Hands 3-D Printing Its Biggest Boost Ever (Update 2)

Updated from 10:37 a.m. EDT to provide analyst comments in the last paragraph.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) gave 3D-printing perhaps its biggest piece of credibility yet by announcing it will support consumer-grade 3D-printers in newest operating system, Windows 8.1.

This is going to radically change 3D-printing.

As part of a demonstration during its Build Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft displayed a MakerBot printer for its demonstration, emphasizing that consumers simply have to hit "print" from the 3D-design app, the same as if they were printing to a piece of paper.

Not only is this a boon for 3D-printing in general and particularly a godsend for Stratasys (SSYS - Get Report), which just purchased MakerBot for $400 million, it will also translate into an additional $200 million in future billings.

JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster noted how important this announcement is, especially for investors. "We believe the Microsoft API is not device-specific, and will therefore support 3D personal printers from other vendors, including 3D Systems," Coster wrote in a note. "This development could buoy sentiment in the stocks, today, particularly SSYS given its planned acquisition of MakerBot." Coster has a neutral rating on Stratsys.

Microsoft also announced it plans to sell the MakerBot printers in its stores, further expanding the retail selection of 3D-printers.

Endorsements for Windows 8.1 were heard across the industry as 3D Systems (DDD - Get Report) General Manager Consumer Products Rajeev Kulkarni gushed over Microsoft's latest piece of software.

"Our Cube 3D printer and Cubify consumer ecosystem create a delightful, empowering and intuitive 3D printing experience and Microsoft's integration makes the Cube Windows 8.1 compatible, further enhancing the amazing user experience 3D Systems provides," Kulkarni said in a press statement.

Windows 8.1 is the first operating system to support 3D-printers like this, and it clearly highlights the potential for the space, as it continues to grow.

The recent announcement by 3D Systems that it's moving into the metals space, only adds further credence that 3D-printing is poised to reshape manufacturing in America.

"I think we're moving from an early adopter's phase with products like hearing aids, and dental products, to a more mainstream phrase," says Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson. "We're in a stage now where companies like Microsoft, Amazon (AMZN) and Staples (SPLS), these large well-known companies, are kind of enhancing the ecosystem to create more content. The more content there, the more attractive the entry-level printers become."

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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