Last Updated: August 4th, 2014

Writing about the XBMC media center software almost always takes a little explanation. The open-source XBMC was formerly known as the "Xbox Media Center," because its first release way back in 2003 was based on the "Xbox Media Player" and intended to run on modified Xbox game consoles. Because the software no longer officially runs on the Xbox, and has never run on newer consoles like the Xbox 360, and in fact runs on a heck of a lot of hardware that bears no X at all, the creators have renamed the software "Kodi."


In addition to general confusion around the name and nomenclature for the project, the XBMC Foundation had a hard time with trademark and quality control. Because the original name contains "Xbox," at least by association, it's either very difficult or impossible to trademark or copyright, which has led to a variety of problems both for the central development team and for enthusiastic fans. XBMC has also had the potential of attracting lawsuits from Microsoft, which has thankfully never happened. Since Kodi is now being distributed across an increasing number of devices and form factors, not unlike Android, it was time to make a clean break with the past.

2014-08-02 18.59.10

At the moment the Foundation is planning on implementing the name change in the upcoming "Helix" 14 release, currently in milestone builds. The software itself, as well as the XBMC website and documentation, should be completely shifted over to the "Kodi" name by the time the final version is available. Version 13.1 is available for Android, Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Apple TV, and the Raspberry Pi on the download page.

Source: XBMC.org

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • S Mahmood Alawi

    They were probably never sued because no one knows what the xb stands for :p
    I've been using it for over a year now and to a reasonable extent i knew mc was media center and hadn't really bothered thinking of it...
    plus the fact they are open source might have helped keep microsoft off their backs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danieltye88 Tungmeister

    I've been using xbmc since 2008 and there's no way I'm going to start calling it anything other than xbmc.

    • malfunctionification

      How about "the media player formaly known as xbmc? "

      • Aborto

        Maybe we could shorten that to TMPFKAXBMC. Catchy.

    • NoPovertyPimps

      ...exactly my reaction when I first read the XBMC blog post. Old habits die hard, and I know we're not the only ones that are probably never going to call it 'kodi'

    • ExtraMedium

      Somewhere else in this thread someone suggested XPMC, Cross Platform Media Center. Could still work, sounds pretty similar too.

      Edit: It was Metsie

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      We somehow managed to stop calling Firefox Firebird. I think you'll do fine with time.

      • Renaldi I.

        Firefox used to be...a pheonix???

  • FrankJL

    that name sounds like a cheap flea market type gadget

    • Paludal

      Or what you would shout when getting surprised by a KODIak bear.. and do not get to utter its entire name.. (Sorry, horrid joke. could not resist).

      • FrankJL

        hahahaha i get it - humorous.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, reminds me of Coby. Vomit.

      • gotitogether

        Well daggone, now that you mention it, this new "identity" actually brought somethin else to mind for me as well. I just couldn't quite put a finger on it, but it definitely made me think "inferior," and even "sub-par," but I STILL couldn't quite think of what I was referencing my thoughts to.. Now that you've mentioned "Coby," BINGO! Thank you, Artem, for bringin that up!!

      • Dan Contento

        ... or Kobie. Vomit, Vomit.

  • http://techvalue.net/ ParisTech

    Well I didn't know how the name came to be and only now realised it's xbmc, I always read it as xMbc!

    • clovervidia

      Same, I've always said XMBC and gotten corrected every time.

      • Kevin

        I've always read AOSP as AOSAP.

        • clovervidia

          ASOAP for me.

        • LazarusDark

          I always read it a AESOP

          • smeddy

            That's a fine tale

          • ericerk


        • Theratchetnclank

          I read it as ASOP.

          Much easier to pronouce than AOSP.

        • kawamase

          that's what you get from banging your head on fruniture!

          • the milkman

            I always thought it was furniture

    • Raven Blood

      woah I kept reading it as XMBC >_< I was wrong this whole time!

  • duse

    Can anyone explain why they use this instead of Plex? It always seems so much more complicated. Plex runs on my PC and all the clients for it are dead simple. What are the advantages of something like XBMC instead?

    • APReader
      • KERR

        " To sum up the main difference, Plex is easy but limited and XBMC is hard but almost infinitely customizable."

        Agree. XBMC isn't "hard" though, I think it probably takes a bit more time to get it the way you like it.

    • primalxconvoy

      You need a plex account to make it work and a PC, which is more complicated than XBMC. This software can stream from any source, such as websites, other devices etc WITHOUT an account and a PC. It's like icefilms, popcorn time, a media player and (in some cases like Android or Ouya) a replacement launcher.

      • duse

        Considering needing a PC more complicated depends on what your proposed alternative is. I consider a PC and a Roku about as simple as it gets because the PC I already have (and is almost always on) and the Roku is a dumb, simple client requiring absolutely zero maintenance. What does removing the PC really simplify? It would probably need to be on to serve most media to XBMC anyway. And what is the simplest living room hardware for XBMC...Raspberry Pi? I can't imagine that is simpler or lower maintenance than a Roku. Plex can also stream from websites via "channels" (still requires the PC).

        • Aborto

          Simpler again would be a low power NAS box as the server. You would quickly run into issues with Plex if your media was stored on a NAS box as they generally do not have the CPU power required for transcoding.

          XBMC simply requires enough power on the media center to play the files where Plex requires a dedicated app on each source with enough horsepower to do real time transcoding. It really doesnt work well at all if you want to use several different sources of media.

          I used to use a Plex server for streaming to phones along with XBMC for my media center, but ever since phones have had the power to play 1080P video I have not bothered with the Plex server.

          • duse

            I don't see the NAS box as simpler really since I have a PC that's on most of the evening anyway. Might as well use it for more purposes. If you only use laptops I guess I could see the appeal of a NAS device.

      • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

        The account is free and allows you to Remotely stream outside of the local network so it's not like that account is needed for local use nor does it cost you anything...
        Only Plex Pass which only gives you advanced beta features before they go free costs you anything.

    • Ambroos

      What I really don't like about Plex is that it transcodes so much. It's a huge CPU hog and reduces quality. XBMC, even on a Raspberry Pi, can play pretty much anything streamed over LAN (even from a simple Windows share) without having it transcoded. Faster, cheaper, better. Transcoding = bad. If you need to transcode you have a bad playback device and you should just get a Raspberry Pi.

      • duse

        I just don't see this as true...I use Plex on Roku 3. I used to test what things could "direct play" (meaning no transcoding) and what couldn't but stopped caring because everything looked the same regardless, and CPU usage is always low. I don't think I could ever be compelled to switch due to this unless I noticed lower quality streaming.

        • Aborto

          I can definitely notice the quality loss with high definition videos. I stream over a powerline and wireless network and the quality of transcoded media when limited by bandwidth is noticeably less than the native MVK which has no trouble streaming on the same network.

          I often also get small stutters or pauses several times per movie with transcoding, its nothing to do with host CPU power as it's running on an i7. This doesnt happen at all with the native files streaming to XBMC.

          It makes close to no difference with SD content that I can notice though.

          • duse

            I only use a wired network so maybe that's why it's not an issue for me. Like I said, I stopped paying attention to what was transcoding and what wasn't because everything looked equally fine.

    • Joshua Marshall

      Personally, I have all my movies ripped in ISO format, and Plex doesn't support it.

    • dude

      Plex app doesn't detect DLNA (even though it broadcast DLNA) and other type of media server that XBMC can.

      • duse

        If you're using the Plex client I don't see why you'd need DLNA instead of Plex's server.

    • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

      I use both...Running on the same HTPC...
      But XBMC has better tools, options, and does a Much better job with Interface and display of titles than Plex does.
      If it had Chromecast support built in and Transcoding for units that are not connected to the HDMI port of the HTPC I might not even need Plex.

      It's really only there for Mobile devices and devices that need transcoding.
      Something XBMC should have implemented long ago!

      • duse

        An HTPC just seems like an ancient concept at this point. There are so many simple, cheap, maintenance-free boxes out there that deliver better and easier living room experiences. XBMC definitely runs on a more limited set of "living room hardware" which makes Plex more appealing.

        • Aborto

          One thing I have found I do a lot of on a HTPC though is watch youtube videos. Previously I have had a Boxee box and an Ouya and both did great at video playback but were horrible to use for web browsing.
          I run windows XBMC on an Intel NUC now as youtube and other heavy websites still really don't work well on those cheap devices and I like having a full browser to fall back to.
          There's a surprisingly good youtube client built into my TV but trying to search using a remote is dreadful.

          Admittedly not a problem if you don't bother with the web on your TV.

          • duse

            Well, I don't see much of a need to. Most network websites that stream shows you can access via a Plex "channel". As for YouTube, Roku has an app that works well, and you can search via your phone. In fact, you could just find the video on your phone and hit "play on TV"...this works with a Roku by itself, don't even need Chromecast.

          • Aborto

            Roku is pretty much nonexistant in this my part of the world, netflix and hulu don't work here for example.
            I can use the "play on tv" feature with the youtube client in my TV, it is not what I would call fast or reliable.
            When you have a group of friends over drinking and people are putting on music videos on youtube a proper keyboard and mouse is a must.
            Trust me, after years of trying different solutions trying to avoid a HTPC because I wanted something small and efficient I gave up and went to a NUC and XBMC for very good reasons.

    • ExtraMedium

      Habit I suppose, been using it for years without any problems. It does everything I need, which is sorting through my library, video on demand, looking up media info etc. And all of it for free.

    • KERR

      I like XBMC because I can have fine control over the videos and music I have. I've tried Plex but it's only good if you have well-known content (I have my own videos and other random stuff ripped from the net, including training videos).

    • Aborto

      Plex requires host software running, my XBMC machine plays from network shares on several PC's in the house. I would have a hard time convincing my flatmates to run a Plex server each.

      I would rather not have another bit of software running on my PC to do the transcoding. Having someone else playing movies in another room and stealing my CPU power while I was playing a game would be annoying.

      Plex is rubbish for files it doesn't recognize. If you have a large collection of home videos, youtube downloads or obscure shows it cant find on TVDB it does a terrible job of organizing them.

      In saying that I still think Plex is great software, its easy to use and works well. But its not flexible enough for my particular uses.

      • duse

        As you said, there is usually one or more PCs hosting files anyway, and I feel no issue running Plex on one of them. I've never noticed significant CPU use and I even game on my desktop while someone streams in the living room. I guess I could see how it might be a problem if you have several people streaming from your PC at once.

        For files it doesn't recognize, you can add a library section that doesn't attempt to find TV or movie metadata for the files...it just shows you the files based on your folder structure.

        I guess I can see how it doesn't fit all use cases, but assuming you have a PC serving files anyway, I've never seen much benefit from removing Plex from the equation.

        • Aborto

          Exactly, neither program fits all use cases perfectly. XBMC is arguably a little more complicated to set up (although i find it just as easy as getting the Plex server configured properly) but it definitely more flexible when you have a more complicated network setup than a single server.

          They both have their strengths, Plex is miles better if you have a single server and multiple clients, XBMC wins with multiple media sources to a single client.

  • Torsten

    Here in Germany, Kodi is a cheap drugstore chain...

    • Thomas’

      Never seen one.

    • Alphajoe

      That thought came to my mind as well. Doesn't really add value to the name...


  • MichealCLarson

    The software itself, as well as the XBMC website and documentation, should be completely shifted over to the "Kodi" name by the time the final version is available. http://moourl.com/uhw2p

  • primalxconvoy

    Considering I use "SPMC" (for Ouya), aka "Semper", then why didn't they go for that instead?

    • Dissidence

      SPMC is an unofficial fork developed by koying, not the XBMC team

  • Andy

    Had XBMC (or XBMP) on my beautiful black box 10 years ago, and currently use it on my PC for everything video (I still only use torrents and DC++) - but if they keep that fugly logo, and the stupid name, I will have to shift to another media center.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    I tried it once but the hideous UI really put me off after about 2 minutes.

    • dude

      You can skin it.

      • ocdhd

        Kodi can suck it if you can skin it.

    • Theratchetnclank

      With Bello it looks amazing <3

  • http://youtube.com/jedijens Jens Törnblad

    I really don't get this. Kodi sounds really stupid. i don't get how XBMC can get problems with Xbox when it only uses 2 of the letters in the name. It was short for Xbox media center, but that was a long time ago. The XBMC team has said for a long time that XBMC doesn't mean anything and they even call it XBMC Media Center. They wrote something about Kodi being better suited because it's nowadays more like an Entertainment Center but that is pure bullshit. They could just rename it to XBMC Entertainment Center if that's really the case. This is just plain stupid and the name Kodi sucks. Don't get me wrong here, I really love XBMC and have used it for years, but there's no way I'm gonna call it Kodi.

    • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

      Should have made it XPMC for Cross Platform Media Center.

      • http://youtube.com/jedijens Jens Törnblad

        That I could've both understood and accepted. Great suggestion

      • dude

        They're trying to not get sue by Microsoft, XP is still a Microsoft product.

        • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

          XP is no longer supported or sold by Microsoft so they would have a hard time saying that they were taking money from them and besides XPMC as long as it doesn't use any MS type logo is not an infringement...
          You can't trademark letters only Logos

          • beh


          • ocdhd

            Yeah I went a bit over board, but that Martjin over at XBMC, Grade A douchebag. He is in each and every post condescending arrogant be-belittling attitude towards everyone who has a problem. When you have something that is good, and you are doing it for others, how about doing it with some Class? Keywords, Martijin and XMBC. Look him up. Find his posts and tell me how many of his posts are actually nice. Guy is a tool. There are others there that are MUCH nicer. I did not mean to mention the whole community of them as bad.
            Now how about the names I suggested?
            XMC? HTMC? Kodi, sounds like a really foolish name to me. Are they marketing an Etch A Sketch? or a Talking Poodle? What exactly is KODI? What comes to mind when someone says KODI?

          • ocdhd

            how about just XMC ? X being for Cross platform and MC for Media center? Or how about HTMC ? Home Theater Media Center? I have said this before and am saying it again. That Martjin guy over at XBMC is a huge douchebag arse-soyle, who does nothing better than to condescend on other people. I bet he has a woman in his life who calls him that by his pet name. I hope I don't offend anyone but dealing with some of those morons at XBMC...There is no friendly way to get idiots to do the right thing. You have to force them. Watch their downloads dwindle. No one SERIOUS about running a SERIOUS Home Theater Computer System is going to take Kodi seriously. Jarvis maybe, but Kodi, I dont think so. Suck it XBMC. I'm out.

          • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

            XBMC dev do tend to be their own worst enemy...
            Gotham has way more issues and actually lost some good features compared to the previous...

    • realitysconcierge

      Reminds me of what they did with dota 2

    • ocdhd

      ^^^^^^^^^ Jens Tornbladder knows!

  • dude

    Wish they choose a more interesting name, Kodi sounds like a name of a frat kid.

    Load up Kodi on my HTPC!

  • NoName

    Saw this comment on another blog:

    "What does KODI stand for?"

    It's a play on remote buttons
    K O D i
    | i

    | Play

    • Nick Yarosz

      ...but what about the 'i'? Without it, it's just Kod. Kind of like that fish that's defrosting in my fridge right now... mhmmm... fish and chips...

    • imlip

      i think ">i" should be forward.... play almost always gets replaced by a Pause or Stop button.

  • Stew

    A good move, i never used this because haxing Xbox in the naming was a big turn off. Perhaps the continued gross failure of the latest Xbox one has flrced this issue?

  • C64

    Since i found out about showbox i almost never use xbmc anymore. Almost never download anything anymore.

    • Eirik Corneliussen

      Same here, but I did just recently start to use xbmc again because of the "video not available now" deal with showbox

  • YO TED

    http://youtu.be/29CRHKr33og one of the hottest pole dancer in the world//////////

  • FreeMoviesOnAndroid
    • Tim


  • AdHoc

    Simply put, Plex client/server applications are crappy. I used Plex client on my iPad (was an alternative since XBMC is forbidden on it), Android Tab, Android TV Box and PC - all client apps proved unusable many times on these systems so I removed them from my life.

    Plex-Sever used to run on my Windows Home Server. If I must confess, my LG TV was flawless with it. Great! isn’t it? But tell me, what is the use of such media server if it cannot be installed as a service? One would expect it to run on a server even when not logged in right? but it doesn’t. The only workaround that was available to me was to install a damn expensive software that simulates Plex as a service, but I wasn’t ready to go that way.

    Speaking of generality, some great things about XBMC is that, it recognizes anything you throw at it, it doesn’t complain much, and now the best part, it does not require a server application. However, Serviio(the paid version is not expensive) is a good alternative if you need one. There is also a client app „ServiiGo“ available on the apps market, though I haven’t tried it but it might be worth it.

    Whether the Plex fans agree with me or not, the plain truth is that XBMC is far more advanced and simple to use than Plex. Notably, Plex has only a handful of add-ons while XBMC has lots of them. I have used softwares like Cyberlink Power Cinema, Windows Media Center and Media Portal but I kept coming back to XBMC because „it just works“.

    XBMC can handle any DLNA server; I have successfully used the following - Serviio, TVersity, Twonkey, PS3 Media Server - just to mention a few. It also can read media from network shares such as SMB, Cifs/NFS, NAS and from local drives including USB, SD.

    Think of simplicity, generality, extensibility, customizability and usability; Its what XBMC stands for.

    What more do you want?

  • John Alexander Endresen

    who cares? as long as they dont make changes on how it functions, i could care less.

  • ocdhd

    Kodi, hahahah. Sounds like a Dog, or a Pet. Team xbmc must have smoked some buzz kill. This goes to show just how COOL these guys are and how amazing their imagination is. Kodi Helix. That almost sounds like Fapper Schwarzenegger. First name a little poosee and second name hard core. Idiots. Good luck I'm not installing this crap till you can call it something that sounds like a piece of tech rather than a cute dog. Never really liked those uptight morons at xbmc anyway.