Microsoft announced a new Xbox One program this morning titled "Independent Developers @ Xbox," an internal initiative aimed at speeding the game publishing process for independent developers on Xbox One. The program enables indie devs to work with Microsoft directly on digitally publishing to Xbox One -- after an application approval process, Microsoft offers approved developers two free development kits and access to its Xbox One toolset (Kinect, Cloud, etc.). The application process costs nothing, nor do game updates, and Microsoft's handling the pricing structure. Xbox VP Marc Whitten tells Engadget that the process for approval is quick.

"Our goal is to be incredibly responsive," Whitten said. As for an exact turnaround time or deadline (like Apple's coveted two-week iOS approval window), Whitten wouldn't budge. "We're very motivated to go quickly, and our goal is to go as quickly as possible," he said. The same thing goes for the dev kits reaching approved devs; no hard deadline beyond "as soon as possible." When devs are approved and able to publish, they'll become "registered Xbox One developers," and thus able to self-publishing games on Microsoft's next game console. Approval also grants access to a variety of Xbox Live functionality, from Achievements to online multiplayer; developers will also gain access to the Kinect and SmartGlass functions. Priority for initial applications is being offered "to independent game developers who have a proven track record of shipping games on console, PC, mobile or tablet." Longtime Xbox Live evangelist Chris Charla is heading up the program.

The application process begins today (right here) and the first approvals start this fall. As for the plan to make every Xbox One a dev kit ... that's still in the works, but not ready for the Xbox One launch.

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