Developer mode is available on the Xbox Series X and S. This feature can turn every console into a development kit. Microsoft officially announced it for the Xbox One in 2016. Here’s how to use Developer Mode on a modern Xbox, and why you want it.
What is developer mode?
Microsoft first announced that the Xbox would get Developer Mode during its keynote address at the Build 2016 event, along with news that the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is coming to the Xbox One.
With developer mode enabled on a Microsoft console, it is possible to install and run UWP apps. When developer mode is on, games and other retail services will not work. To play retail games and apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, you must restart your console.
UWP was Microsoft’s great luck for a unified software platform that allowed apps to run on Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile (Windows Phone), Xbox One, and HoloLens. The advantage of a UWP application was that it did not need to be rewritten to be ported to another Microsoft platform.
Developer mode is great for testing UWP apps you’ve written or downloading UWP apps from other developers. This feature is available on all consoles of the Xbox One era, as well as the Xbox Series X and S. The newer the console, the better the apps.
Why activate developer mode?
There are two reasons to enable developer mode:
You are writing an app for the platform and want to test it.
You’ve found a UWP app that you want to install on your Xbox.
If you are a developer, you probably already understand the platform and its benefits. If you’re more interested in sideloading your own apps, you’re probably also interested in emulation and other apps that Microsoft won’t allow in the Microsoft Store.
However, Developer Mode is not completely free. To activate on your Xbox, you must register an individual app developer account with the Microsoft Partner Center ($ 19 in US, but cost varies in other areas).
You cannot skip this step because you will need to add your Xbox to your Partner Center account as a “developer console”. There is no downside to doing this other than personal expenses. You can still boot your development console into retail mode and play games as you normally would.
How to activate developer mode
Before you start, head to Microsoft Partner Center and create an app developer account. You don’t necessarily have to use the same credentials as your existing Xbox (Microsoft) account; you just need a valid developer account. These are one-time charges. You will not have to renew your subscription in the future.
Next, turn on your Xbox and press Y on a controller to open the search box. Search for “Xbox Dev Mode” and install the app. Wait for the download to complete and then start it. Select Next until you see a code.
Note: Another app, called “Development Mode Activation,” is designed only for Xbox One consoles and will not work with the Xbox Series X or S. If you have an X or S series, be sure to download the app. “Xbox Dev Mode”, or it won’t work.
Write down the code before proceeding to the next step. You must now register your console in the Microsoft Partner Center. Visit the Manage Xbox consoles or click “Development Devices” and then “Xbox One Development Consoles” under “Account Settings”.
Click the plus sign (+) to add a new console, then type the code you wrote down earlier. After submitting the form, your Xbox should enable Developer Mode.
When you’re ready, select “Switch and Restart” to restart your console in developer mode.
Enter developer mode and install apps
To access Developer Mode, open the Xbox Dev Mode app, choose “Switch and Restart,” then wait for your console to restart. When you want to exit Developer Mode, return to Developer Home (the main Developer Mode dashboard) and choose “Exit Developer Mode” from the “Quick Actions” menu.
When you first start in developer mode, you will not be connected to the internet. To log in, select “Launch Home” to open the dashboard and launch the Settings application. Select General> Network Settings, then configure your network (wireless or otherwise) as you normally would.
Select the “Dev Home” icon on the dashboard to return to it. After a few minutes, the “Xbox Live” notification should become “operational”. An IP address should also appear in the “Remote Access” box on the right.
Select “Remote Access Settings,” then enter a username and password to authenticate and send files to your Xbox from a browser. You can also turn off authentication if you’re not worried about other users on your network playing with your console.
Now it’s time to test everything. Open a browser on your computer and type the address displayed by your Xbox.
Note: This address is an “https: // “Secure connection. If you omit the” s “, the URL will not work. An error will be displayed, informing you that the connection is not really private, but that’s okay; it’s enough to reject it.
You are now configured! To transfer files, just select “Add”. Select “Add User” to create dummy Xbox Live test accounts.
Developer mode limitations
Developer mode has some limitations that you should be aware of, especially if you plan to develop your own apps. Even if you do this for emulation purposes, you might experience issues due to Microsoft’s restrictions.
On an Xbox One or Series X or S console, UWP apps can only access files that are 2 GB or less. This can be a problem if an application you are trying to use tries to access a large ROM or video file. This limitation is specific to developer mode.
There are also hardware constraints in terms of the system resources that UWP apps can access. The maximum memory allocated to applications is 1 GB, while games get 5 GB. Applications can share 2-4 processor cores and have up to 45% of the GPU. Games can use 4 exclusive and 2 shared processor cores, but have full GPU access.
Only 64-bit (x64) applications are allowed (there is no support for 32-bit (x86) applications). While applications are limited to DirectX 11, games benefit from all DirectX 12 features.
You can turn off developer mode
If you want to remove Developer Mode from your console, launch the Xbox Dev Mode app and select “Disable.” You can also sign in to Microsoft Partner Center and remove your Xbox from the “Manage Xbox consoles” menu. Resetting your console to factory default settings also removes developer mode.
Your Xbox is now configured for developer mode
Whether you’re installing emulators or developing your own apps, you can now use developer mode on your Xbox anytime. All you need to do is launch the Xbox Dev Mode app (or use the old Dev Mode enable app on an Xbox One, S, or X).
While the Xbox Series X has taken the lead in big-budget retail releases, the S Series still goes out of its way when it comes to emulation. Learn more about the differences between the X and S series.