Xbox

Remember Microsoft's promise that a retail Xbox One can (eventually) be used as a dev kit? It's back!

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Now that the Xbox One has been on store shelves for over a year a lot of the controversy about the muddled initial introduction of the system have faded. Remember when the Xbox One was going to require an Internet connection and game disks would just be a delivery mechanism that you could stash in a closet once the game was installed? And the conversation over what that meant for used game sales?

That version of the Xbox One never launched and we lost some good stuff with the bad. One early promise was that every retail Xbox One could be used as a development kit, meaning anyone could become an Xbox One developer. That idea promised to open the Xbox One to a potentially huge community of independent developers.

It's been something like 18 months but it may be that the 'retail Xbox One as dev kit' dream is still alive. Yesterday The Verge ran a post (based on the ever elusive "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans") saying that we'll see a preview SDK in May "alongside the retail to dev kit switch" and that developers should be building apps by the summer.

Rather than these being Xbox apps, they'll be Universal apps that can run on both the Xbox One and Windows 10. By November end users should be enjoying a lot more apps for the Xbox One.

As a non-developer I was most excited to read "...apps will finally be able to run in the background allowing third-party music apps to continue outputting music while a game is being played." Finally!

I'll refer you to The Verge for more details about this current leak, but I'm cautiously optimistic. I really hope Microsoft does a lot of work on the store on the Xbox One before this (potential) deluge of apps hit. Even with the fairly small number of items in the store now it can be difficult to find what you want and the truth is that we'll be getting a lot of junk along with whatever awesome new apps developers come up with. We'll need a solid rating and recommendation system, and better search as well.

As long as I'm talking Xbox, I wanted to point out that Microsoft is running their "Ultimate Game Sale"  from now until February 23rd. Follow the link for a full listing. I opted for some cheap mid-tier games to pad out my Xbox One library: Sniper Elite 3 for $10, Lords of the Fallen for $9 and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris for $8. If you're looking for AAA titles, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is $30 for Xbox Live Gold members (Gold members get a slightly better deal across the board in this sale).

Microsoft also rolled out a big update for Upload Studio this week. If you're an Xbox One owner you've probably already received it. Here's Microsoft's Larry Hryb telling you about all the new features:

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