Kodi is now available for Xbox One, but as a work in progress

Kodi has finally come full circle. The popular open-source media player is again available for Xbox, but this time the newer Xbox One through the Universal Windows Platform.

Developers XBMC offered up the good news in a blog post, explaining that while the app was now available worldwide, there were still some features that needed to be added and bugs squashed. Those that have used the player on different devices will get the same look and feel in the UWP version on Xbox One, but with some limitations:

What you should really understand and keep remembering is that it is still in early stages of development and has very rough edges, might not be as stable as the regular version and may even be missing some functions. Due to the nature of how UWP works our hands are tied in some areas. Some parts are not even finished yet and our developers are still working on getting it up to the regular standard. As of this writing there’s limited access to only what’s part of your Video and Music folders. Network support is limited to only NFS:// shares. No access to the Blu-ray drive to start the disc or even an attached storage drive. There might still be problems with certain general python modules that are used by add-ons and we are finding and reporting them to the developers as testing progresses. I’m sure there’s more that might not work as intended yet as there are so many features it just will take a while to go over them. We cannot promise to what extend we can get every feature working as it all depends on what is available to us developers.

For those unfamiliar with Kodi's history, it started as the Xbox Media Center on the original Xbox, although not an official Microsoft product. The player was eventually developed for other platforms, with the Xbox version suffering as the device obsolete. In 2010, they stopped development on the Xbox version, as technical hurdles made it harder to develop for Xbox 360, and by 2014, renamed XBMC to Kodi.

However, when Microsoft adopted UWP for Windows 10, there was new hope. With some help from outside developers, the Kodi team created a Win32 version that did very well on what was then the Windows Store. The popularity offered hope that a 64-bit Kodi could work if they figured out how to do it. Here's a little bit on why:

Initial work that needed to be done was to convert most if not all external code libraries Kodi relies on and get these changes accepted by the original maintaining developer group(s). Once that work was started the current Windows specific code was picked apart piece by piece and slowly converted to be with the UWP specs. A really tedious job as part of the code still include “hacks” based on the first Xbox. As the work of the code libraries was nearing its end we could finally announce that the first 64-bit Kodi builds were available for windows.

Work on the UWP version was being done in conjunction with the 64-bit version, although few on the team were aware of it. With help from Microsoft, the infant UWP version was born in July. By November, UWP code was merged into the master Kodi code, with the end result finally appearing in the Microsoft Store today. Converting from 32-bit to UWP is a feat few companies have been able to accomplish, especially in such a short amount of time.

While Xbox One users will be happy that Kodi has returned as a media option, the difficult conversion to UWP means that any Windows 10 device will be able to use it as well, including Windows phones, Surface Hub, and even HoloLens.

While Kodi may be popular, some of that popularity is for the wrong reasons, as it has become a preferred app for pirates using nefarious third-party add-ons to get the media player to stream copyrighted material illegally. The company has implemented a low-grade DRM to try to deter piracy.

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