You have to apply to get in, but once you're in, you're golden.
Microsoft loves independent development so much that it's created a new program, the details of which were announced at Gamescom today, to help indies get on to Xbox One. You'll need to apply for the program - there's no fee, but priority will be given to those who have a "proven track record of shipping games on a console, PC, mobile or tablet," according to Microsoft - and once you're in, you get two free dev kits, access to cloud services, and tools to help development for Kinect and Smart Glass that much easier. There'll even be tools to help you make achievements.
Of course, there is that pesky application process. Developers which want to put something out on iOS or Android don't have to worry about that. A proven track record is also going to be a challenging hurdle, particularly for first-time developers. But Microsoft's Chris Charia, shepherd to this new indie flock, has said that Microsoft wants the process to be "as inclusive as possible," and one of the more interesting ways this will be achieved is to make every Xbox One - eventually, not right out of the gate - its own dev kit. Microsoft hasn't said when this will happen, but when it does a developer could just tinker with the system as it pleases, possibly without even the application and approval process.
Xbox Live Indie Games is gone, so the independents will be rubbing shoulders with everyone else. That could mean that established publishers and the AAA crowd may smother the small, quirky titles. But we still don't know all that there is to know about this process, and Microsoft intends to hold three developer events - London, Seattle and San Francisco - later this fall, to explain further.
Source: Ars Technica