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All Windows 10 devices have access to 'developer unlock' mode through Settings

Today, Microsoft gave more information about Windows 10, including the universal Windows Apps model. Details were presented in the breakout sessions called 'Introducing the Windows 10 App Model' earlier in the day.

One bit of news we can confirm is that all Windows 10 devices, including phones, tablets, and PCs, can be developer unlocked through a toggle switch in Settings.

Sightings of such a feature were noted in the recent 100061 build of Windows 10 for desktop, although it did not work (it was under 'For Developers', see below). The feature just missed the flight for the current Technical Preview, but it should be in the next release.

No registration, no cords

How it works is anyone with a Windows 10 phone or PC can just head into Settings and toggle the unlock feature on or off. There is no registration needed, nor do you need to tether your phone to a PC to unlock using Visual Studio (the current method). This feature should make life much easier for developers.

There is one limit though Windows Phones will only be able to install 20 sideloaded apps or games. This limit contrasts with desktop, which will be unlimited. The feature can also be controlled by enterprise tools through a registry change, ensuring that corporate devices can still be locked down.

Letting anyone developer unlock their Windows 10 device means you can install apps, not from the Windows Store. Such apps could be ones that do not conform to the Store's codes, or for other reasons.

Regardless, the choice of sideloading should be up to the user and Microsoft now finally agrees.

Follow all our Build 2015 news on our main topic page!

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

88 Comments
  • Same button which would be hard to find on ATT devices :)
  • Agree
  • Lol. Yeah...
    Sounds like many subtle ways to get around carriers for certain things.
  • That's why I don't buy carrier branded phones. Get the unlocked international version.
  • If you have the money thats great, but not everyone can affort $700+ for a flagship phone, while on contract, which you probably have anyway, its $200 or less.    
  • It's simple math. A non-contract plan, $35/month plus a $700+ phone is way cheaper than a branded carrier locked phone on a contract. If you have a contract you're wasting money. And that's not even including the fact that you can resell the old phone for more when its unlocked and unbranded. If more people would smarten up and do this, we'd have less, if any, carriers to bow to.
  • Thats how we do it here in europe. We buy phone seperately. because its cheaper and there is no carrier in the way dictating us when and or why we will (not) getting updates. I wish people in the US would be as smart as you.
  • Too many of us here aren't smart with money. We have economic issues mainly because of the people here that can't make good choices with their money. Hopefully some more people will wake up before we have yet another depression.
  • Unfortunately it's not quite like that in the UK, you will generally only pay about £450 more over the term for the £600 phone, although suppliers hope you will forget or lazily renegotiate so you end up paying £600 in the end. Personally I still prefer to pay the full price and have the choice of how I use my phone.
  • Besides most unlocked versions are hspa only
  • That's completely untrue. HSPA will only be your choice if the imei is flagged, or better said not flagged, by the carrier. You can either give the imei of a branded lte capable phone, or bring it to your carrier and have them put an lte SIM into the phone. Prove to them the phone accepts LTE and get them to put your imei on the "allow" list.
  • 200isis just the down payment, you still have to pay the phone monthly, eventually you will pay full price
  • Woo.
  • 20 apps is a stupid limitation, free it up for good please, no limit that's what we want.
  • Yeah that limit would have been removed
  • It used to be 10, so thank Microsoft for giving you 20.
  • And we can thank them even more when it becomes unlimited. ;)
  • >2015 >Not setting to 0xFFFFFFFF apps for interop.
  • Right now it's 2, why complain then?
  • It use to be like 3 or 5
  • Yeah, let's pirate everything we want! Not only 20 apps at a time. Be serious.
  • WoW.....!!!!!!!!!
  • This is huge!
  • This + support for Android apps = good news if I understand correctly. Or do all Android apps need to be recompiled? I'm a little confused after reading about the iOS game running on Windows already.
  • You could recompile an Android app that the dev did not submit themselves to the Store :)
  • What!!! Recompile an .apk to .appx and sideload? That's huge!
  • GASP!!! I can has apps? [faint]
  • Hahaha
  • APPS..... APPS EVERYWHERE! THEY'RE IN MY EYES!
  • It's also illegal lol
  • Not if he doesn't redistribute it. Its the usual clause in most EULA's.
  • No. Only an Open source andoid application. You can't just use any .apk file.
  • Seems he is kidding :P
  • I can see another Snapchat lawyer letter...
  • Now we just need to find a way to unlock the 20 apps limit.
  • Not direct emulation. Apps needs to be ported for Windows 10. It is not like sideload apk & get it running. Which is I think good implementation :)
  • Wait so we could sideload 6snap ;) /s
  • That would be great. Unfortunately 6snap was broken by Snapchat so it didn't even work in its last days.
  • Maybe but snapchat would lock your account for using a third party app
  • They already did mine, don't care never understood it :P
  • What about recompiling snapchat .apk to .appx and side load it ;)
  • Yeh I don't see the problem until snapchat gets pissed at us for 1. Infringing copyright 2. Using a third-party app
  • I don't care about snapchat. But one thing I can say is, if they hate us, lets give them a reason. ;)
  • Let them die.
  • Snpachat got the source code of 6 snap.
  • This is great! Microsoft really couldn't do more to attract developers.
  • This is fantastic news. They really botched sideloading with the W8 release.
  • Nice. 20 is enough for developers but not enough to get people to pirate everything.
  • Haha... Yes.
  • Microsoft needs to add the unlock "pirate" mode.
  • "You can install apps, not necessarily from the store". They've just opened a portal to the pirate store.
  • It was possible already. Just needed a ~100MB install on the PC to developer unlock and sideload 2 apps for free.
  • Pirate bay returns from the ashes! /s lol
  • But that is just wrong. Piracy is the only reason Android has a leading market share, otherwise Android sucks hands down. I mean, it even has an entire app store allowing users to grab apk's of paid/patched apps.
  • Blackmarket .. Blackmart.. Something..!
  • 6snap is going on asap. Lol
  • Why? They'll just lock your account. Did that to mine multiple times until they permanently did it. I still keep 6snap on there for nostalgic reasons but I don't even use it. I've resorted to installing bluestacks on my dvp8 and checking my snaps there...really sad, I know :(
  • Or you could get the android version of snapchat and recompile It to run on windows 10 and sideload it snap chat shouldn't be able to tell a difference
  • Yesssssss.
  • MS dud their trick. even the ones(android apps) their fans don't want but safely(recompiling to universal apps)..
    Now its developers time.. You should wakeup and support this great giant software builders
  • Does this have any affect on the OS version capable of being installed, similar to Developer Preview?
  • I'm clinging onto my copy of Microsoft's YOUTUBE. Thank XDA for that!
  • Hahahaa..
  • Cheesy Smile
  • Would you still have to install the app from PC or would you be able to install from file explorer just by opening the .XAP file?
  • Then the developer versions will die later if can enable the developer option like Android with the unknown sources option
  • Hello porn apps lol
  • That's great hackers too im assuming. Maybe a way to root the phone. Just thoughts. I need to side load Wi-Fi Calling from T-Mobile on my 1520. Stuck with lame att apps.
  • I don't think there's anything more Microsoft can do here to attract devs. They've basically rolled out the carpet, fixed dinner, run the bubble bath and has fresh towels and linen for devs here. Any dev putting for any contrary drivel about not bring their apps to Windows, is just plain out not interested to do so. What more can Microsoft do here. They're really going all in. Time for devs to step up. Lets hope they do.
  • Like the old Nokia N9 with Meego. Just 1 flag to unlock the phone.
  • I been saying the same thing just the other day! And someone replied its wrong to give users more control lol but look what just happened and 20 is enough lol anyway piracy also drives android which is unlimited. We just got a limit. But it don't stop us from getting some goodies! Haha!
  • Wait, so does this mean that everyone using Windows 10 for phones will be able to easily snag new OS updates and bypass crappy carriers like Verizon?
  • Everyone can already (on WP8) easily get new OS updates via the Preview for Developers app. It's free of charge and only takes a minute to set up. I'm sure there will be a similar feature in Win 10, because it is so popular.
  • I am aware of this. And while it isn't that complex, it isn't as easy as pressing a button. This is why I asked the question. So what's the answer? Does this replace that?
  • OH MY GOD!!!
  • Any developers out there know if there is any way W10 for phones cam run ShowBox, or Bluestacks❓
  • 20? That's ten times of the current one, I smell piracy..
  • Good all the 512 patched games that developers didn't care to optimize and actually work like modern combat 4, NBA jam and more
  • Awesome then now cheat version of game can be installed...
  • This is really good news! Happy side loading is coming!
  • SO now side loading will allow companies to create virus or hack windows phone easily bad news for a WP lover ;(
  • Keep your phone developer-locked.
  • Yes thats only option we will have
  • It will be locked by default. You need not worry.
  • Finally! This is huge.
  • What is sideload is just like unknown source in android
  • Yes.
  •     Microsoft is ensuring that users no longer have to wait months for updates while carriers update rivals' devices. Bravo! This is also great for developers.