Boxee Media Center Gets an Upgrade, But Won't Pursue PCs Any Longer

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 27, 2011

Boxee, which offers an open source, social media center platform that we've covered a number of times, is radically changing course according to a new announcement from the company. While Boxee was originally simply a software platform that provided a "10-foot interface" for those who wanted to sit on the couch and control media on big screen TVs, it ended up finding success as an embedded platform in devices such as the D-Link Boxee Box. In that space, it competed with Roku, Apple TV and other devices. As of January, it sounds like that will become Boxee's primary focus.

The Boxee software is out in a new version 1.5, and you can get it and read about it here. It works on Windows, the Mac and Ubuntu. According to a post on the Boxee site, though:

"As a platform, we have been able to bring Boxee for Computers to about 85% of the Boxee Box in terms of features and functionality...This 1.5 release will be the last version of Boxee for PC/Mac/Ubuntu. It will be available on through the end of January....We believe the future of TV will be driven by devices such as the Boxee Box, Connected TVs / Blu-Rays and 2nd screen devices such as tablets and phones. While there are still many users who have computers connected to their TVs, we believe this use case is likely to decline as users find better alternatives. People will continue to watch a lot of video on their computer, but it is more likely to be a laptop than a home-theater PC and probably through a browser rather than downloaded software."

And so one of the most storied open source projects of the past few years will likely head away from a community-driven development model and become increasingly like other media devices and their software platforms. There is a message to the community on the Boxee site:

"To our computer users… to those who have come out to our NYC and SF meetups, talked with us at Engadget, GDGT, and Giz Gallery events, or enjoyed Austin BBQ with us during SxSW, or simply messaged with us on Facebook, Twitter, and our forums… thank you for all your support – we would not be where we are today without you. But we can’t stay here."

You can't blame them for this decision. On devices, the folks behind Boxee can make deals with content makers that allow them to get around strict digital rights management (DRM) rules and provide the maximum number of types of content. Still, it will be sad to see the computer-based version of Boxee stop in its tracks.