We are excited to announce that the media center software we’ve all loved for so many years will have a new name, starting with version 14. Instead of XBMC 14, we’d like to introduce you to Kodi 14.
Since 2002, the software known as XBMC has gone through three namings. First, it was called Xbox Media Player. Upon realizing that it did a bit more than your traditional media player, in 2004 the development team elected to rename it Xbox Media Center. A mere 4 years later in 2008, the team once again elected to rename the software to simply XBMC, given that it had moved on from its original roots on the Xbox. Support for the Xbox was dropped shortly thereafter. Today it’s all happening one last time.
Real World Problems
Six years have passed since the Xbox Media Center became XBMC, and simply put, “XBMC” fits less now than it did even in 2008. The software only barely runs on the original Xbox, and then only because some clever developers are still hacking on that platform. It has never run on the Xbox 360 or Xbox One.
Furthermore, while the software still acts as a media center, it also hosts addons, loads games, streams content to and from numerous devices, and can ultimately act as a complete replacement for whatever platform it is hosted on. Indeed, XBMC today is far more an Entertainment Center than a simple Media Center.
In essence both the “XB” and “MC” simply don’t make a whole lot of sense any more.
Beyond the nonsensical nature of the software’s name, there is a secondary issue. Because “XBMC” was originally based on the name Xbox, the developers of the software (that’s us) have never had any sort of legal control over the use of its name, which has resulted in a whole slew of problems.
In the past few years, we have seen the mass confusion that resulted from this lack of control first hand. Users have been fooled into wasting money buying boxes running hacked and typically broken versions of XBMC. News sites and blogs have gotten caught in confusing language numerous times. Unrelated fan communities, often founded under the best of intentions, have found themselves under attack, simply because no guidelines existed to simplify the process of clearly distinguishing themselves from the XBMC Foundation. What’s more, the Foundation itself and all of its developers have always operated under a potential legal threat from other companies that did have a legal trademark in a similar name. And that legal threat has actually gotten more problematic in recent years.
Because all these problems have been getting more and more pronounced, the Foundation decided to review its options with the help of the legal team at the Software Freedom Law Center. In the end, it was decided renaming the software that we all love so much was the most realistic solution. We’ve done it twice before. We believe this time Kodi will be the name we can keep forever.
Results of the new name Kodi
The average user will see little difference with the new Kodi. The software will remain the same. Users will get to keep using the software however they like. The code will remain licensed under the GPL 2.0. We even intend to stick with our current numbering scheme. Our next release will be titled Kodi 14. Indeed, the most significant difference for most people will be a slightly altered splash screen on boot up.
For companies, fan sites, and add-on developer sites, this name change should actually make work substantially easier. The XBMC Foundation has elected to wholesale adopt the policies of the Mozilla Foundation with regards to distribution and trademark licensing. For more information for web hosts and hardware vendors, see our Trademark Use FAQ (currently a work in progress). Simply put we are happy to remain incredibly permissive with the 3rd Party use of the Kodi name, so long as that use doesn’t confuse other users and the community. The FAQ and Trademark Policy should help you navigate exactly what “confusing” means to us.
Because of your generosity in t-shirt sales, straight-up donations, and word-of-mouth evangelizing, this project has lasted for 12 years and through four different names, and with your help, we all believe it can last twice that long again. So we figured we’d offer a t-shirt to commemorate the name change.
There’s only one thing. The image at the top of this article is not the final logo. We are working with doghousemedia to truly realize an awesome logo, and we aren’t quite there yet.
So instead of offering a bit of swag with the new name, we figured we’d offer the exact opposite. This is it. The last XBMC shirt or related piece of merchandise we’re ever going to sell.
There’s still a long ways to go in the renaming process. A ton of code has to be changed to reflect the new name. So many websites, webpages, social networks, and other things have to be updated. Much of the trademark legalese needs to be reviewed by the lawyers and government officials. The logo has to be finished. Needless to say, the upcoming Kodi developers conference this year is certainly going to be intense as we work through these issues. But we believe that with your support and the support of the whole community, Kodi, the media center or entertainment platform or whatever you choose to call it that we’ve all come to love will be even stronger than it was before.
Thank you all for your support, now and in the future. In the comments below, we’d love to hear your thoughts, whether they be about how you first discovered XBMC/Xbox Media Center/Xbox Media Player, or about what you think of the new name.
Kodi 14.0 “Helix” alpha 2
As a bonus, you can grab the first Kodi 14.0 “Helix”alpha2 build from our download page. The complete feature and changes list will follow in several other announcements. Going more in depth on all changes.