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Windows 11 appears to have a Developer Mode. I was playing around with Flutter and got prompted to enable it. The setting looks like this:

Developer mode setting

When I enable it, I get the following confirmation prompt:

Turning on developer mode, including installing and running apps from outside the Microsoft Store, could expose your device and personal data to security risks or harm your device.

Turn on developer mode?

I checked the linked help page but it did not contain a lot more context. Are there any reasons not to turn this on?

Also, the prompt insinuates that Developer Mode is required to run sideloaded apps that originate from outside the Microsoft Store. I've downloaded plenty of EXE installers off the internet and didn't have to turn on Developer Mode to run them. Any idea what's going on here?

2 Answers 2

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Are there any reasons not to turn this on?

It's a basic security warning. Imagine the warning is not there: Someone sends you an app with instructions to turn on developer mode. Once you run it, you find out that it is malware. Alternatively, imagine a compromised device that downloads and loads a malicious app. Apps from the store at least have traceability as to who developed it and apps are scanned for basic security issues.

The feature exists as a basic security function to limit exposure to malicious apps, but the ability to turn it on is there for development. Best practice is to make the machine in Developer Mode to be solely for development and not for personal use to segregate the more dangerous environment from your personal data.

The Microsoft site explains why you need this for some apps and not others:

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    The "Installs and configures firewall rules for SSH services that allow remote installation of apps" bit sounds a bit scary, but using a different Windows installation for development and personal use would be fairly impractical for my hobby projects. I might as well dual boot Windows and Linux in that case. Crucially, as Joseph and the linked docs point out, the rule seems to apply to APPX but not EXE. That explains the behavior. Thanks for the pointers!
    – Pieter
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 16:33
  • The appx thing is also explained in my links. Good luck!
    – schroeder
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 16:53
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Are there any reasons not to turn this on?

Not really. It's just FUD to scare people into only trusting Microsoft.

I've downloaded plenty of EXE installers off the internet and didn't have to turn on Developer Mode to run them. Any idea what's going on here?

That setting only affects .appx type apps, not .exe's.

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