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VLC Media Player coming to Xbox One this summer

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One media player to rule them all

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VLC Media Player is in development on Xbox One, with the team behind the software aiming to release it this summer as part of the first wave of Universal Windows Program (UWP) apps, the team announced yesterday.

VLC, a popular free, open-source media player, is already available in the Windows Store for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. But the developers of that version are rebuilding it as a UWP app so that it can run on a variety of Windows 10-based devices, including desktop and laptop computers, mobile devices, HoloLens, and Xbox One.

"We've been working on Xbox One for a long time, even considered a Windows 8 app last year, but we [couldn't] because of the lack of proper APIs," said Thomas Nigro, the main maintainer of VLC for Windows 8.1 and 10.

Microsoft's UWP platform, which the company integrated into Windows 10, is designed to allow developers to write a single app that runs on any device running that operating system. In November 2015, Microsoft released a major Xbox One system update that brought Windows 10 to the console.

Some developers, including Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney, have criticized the UWP platform. Sweeney wrote an opinion piece last month in which he raised concerns about UWP, charging that Microsoft's implementation of UWP threatened the open Windows PC ecosystem. Microsoft denied those allegations and said it wasn't locking down Windows with UWP.

The VLC announcement could serve as an example of the benefits of UWP. Microsoft announced three weeks ago, during its annual Build developer conference, that it was finally enabling all Xbox One consoles to be turned into development kits. Anyone who owns an Xbox One can put the system in "Dev Mode" to test UWP games and apps; Dev Mode is currently available in a preview, and is scheduled to launch this summer.

Nigro said his team began working on Xbox One support for the UWP version of VLC Media Player in February. The group will publicly release an early version of the app next week; Xbox One owners will be able to try it in Dev Mode. If everything goes as planned, the team will be able to bring VLC Media Player to the console this summer. Just as Microsoft and Sony have enabled developers to easily self-publish games in this console generation, UWP has the potential to open up app publishing on the Xbox One.