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What is Kodi, and how do you use it on Windows 10?

Kodi is a favorite among cord cutters and digital media fanatics, and it has a long history. Born from what was once called Xbox Media Center (XBMC), the platform owes its roots to Microsoft's very first gaming console.

Times change and Kodi has grown a lot since then. It's open source and available on a whole range of devices, which sadly doesn't include the Xbox One right now. However, you can get Kodi on Windows 10, and as a result, just about anything that runs Windows 10.

Here's what you need to know.

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What is Kodi?

Kodi

Kodi is an open-source media center app that's been continually developed for more than a decade. It's one of the most complete media centers you'll find anywhere, allowing you to consolidate all your media — videos, music and photos — in one place, with a customizable interface.

There's also a huge library of third-party add-ons available within Kodi — some legal, some ... less so — which provide access to a range of streaming services. Kodi is widely available, with builds available for nearly all OSes and devices.

One of Kodi's biggest strengths is how easy it is to use. Sure, there's a ton of things you can do with it and a range of customizations you can make, but the base service is simple to set up and get going with. With version 17, Krypton, the new stock skin adds a touch of style and an easy-to-navigate user interface for all screen sizes.

Find out more on the official website, Kodi.tv.

How to get Kodi on Windows 10

Kodi

Kodi 17 with stock skin installed via the Windows Store

The easiest way to get Kodi on your Windows 10 machine is to download it from the Windows Store. The latest version is all packaged up and ready to roll. You just have to download it — see the link below — and open it like any other app.

Download Kodi from the Windows Store (opens in new tab)

You can also download it directly from Kodi.tv as a traditional .exe file, which works for anyone not using Windows 10. Here you can also get yourself the latest nightly build, if you like living on the bleeding edge.

Kodi and Xbox One

Xbox One S

Despite its Xbox-based origins, Kodi cannot be used on the current Xbox One (opens in new tab) console. That's a shame, but it's also not entirely the fault of the Kodi developers. That doesn't mean you can't unify Kodi and Xbox, though, and thanks to the HDMI input on the rear of the console you can cheat your way to a one-box-for-everything solution.

We've got a full guide on exactly what you'll need to do to use Kodi with your Xbox One:

How to use Kodi on the Xbox One

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Getting started

Kodi

When you first set up Kodi it will be completely empty. You have to add sources of media, and there are a bunch of legal add-ons available right out of the box in the official Kodi repository. These include YouTube, Twitch and OneDrive, as well as some services provided by cable TV networks, news channels and the Smithsonian Museum. It's not limited to video, either, so you can also pull in music and photos to your Kodi setup.

It's also worth getting a remote app for your phone, if you don't want to use a keyboard and mouse or you don't have a suitable hardware remote. If you're a Windows 10 Mobile user there's no official app like the one for Android, but you're not completely out of luck. Try this third party app for a nifty phone-based remote:

Download mrRemote for Kodi from the Windows Store (opens in new tab)

If you want a piece of hardware that's not too intrusive when you're kicking back relaxing, mini keyboards such as the Rii i8 (opens in new tab) are a great choice. They're cheap and work great with Kodi.

So that's how you get started with Kodi on Windows 10. It's a simple process and doesn't require that you set up an account or hand over any of personal information. You just download it, open it, and start making it your own.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

48 Comments
  • Would there be any advantage of the Windows 10 app installer over the basic EXE? Seeing it is not universal makes no sense to me to roll it out on the desktop when I cant make use of it on my phone or xbox. seems like add ons are also not really linked 
  • I think the most basic benefit is that the app can be updated through the store. Meaning you don't have to check their website for the most current build...in theory anyhow.
  • Just assuming a normal app could not provide an update process - which they can.
  • They also can go more direct metrics on the performance of the app, including better crash reports from the OS (according to them).  
  • While in theory they could do automatic updates in the exe version, the fact is, they don't. Another advantage of the store version is the sandbox nature of store apps, and one click install and uninstall, with no leftovers.
  • Almost sounds like you're down on the fact a fairly big name released an app into the Store?! Can't use Photoshop Elements on your phone but the Store is still better for having it there.
  • Edit - Sorry, your comment wasn't directed at me - That is certainly not the case. I am happy to have any, high quality, app in the store. I was only attempting to add clarity as to why Kodi is in the store but not available on Xbox or Mobile. I understand that the devs have limited resources and that Centennial was the best path to the store for them, at this time. Still would prefer an equivalent UWP at some point though.
  • Actual working uninstall, no junk left behind is the main reason for you the user. For devs there's many other reasons.
  • 1. Clean install/uninstall (vs exe install) 2. I guess it can save your configuration on OneDrive, easily restored if you reinstall Kodi.    
  • Project Centennial - can't mess with your registry, no bloatware, clean uninstall, potential to integrate deeper into the modern OS of the developers wanted to. All this is why Microsoft want win32 apps on the Store - piece of mind for the end user.
  • It should be said that the Windows store version is a product of Project Centennial. That means that it's a repackaged x86 app & won't work on Mobile (and, as in the article, Xbox either). It is a great use of the Centennial bridge I just hope they build a full UWP version some day!
  • Oh, right. Well, it's good that at least can be distributed through the store (and even maybe uses the APIs), but a UWP version would be preferrable.
  • Back before flatscreen TVs were affordable and Smart TVs were a thing, I had set up a computer to use it as what was called a HTPC. I had a special software too, but this seems more streamlined and perfect for the Windows 10 era. I'll give it a try.
  • Back before I had DSL, I was stuck on dial-up (Not by choice), I modded an original Xbox to act as a media center (No piracy possible on dial-up, no worries there), and used XBMC, or XBox Media Center (Kodi's original name). Was a super helpful thing to a guy that could only watch DVDs and broadcast TV.
  • Highly recommend.  Installed about 6 months ago on my desktop and tablets.  Pairing it with the Microsoft Display Adaptor allows me to stream it wirelessly to my large screen TV. It's been fantastic.  Cable bill cut in half.
  • Nope ! Says 'this app won't work on your device' :/ Lumia 950 latest public build...
  • It's not for mobile because it's a Project Centennial app, an x86 app repackaged for the Store.
  • Okay !
  • Sounds interesting, will check it out. I have been using Plex for movies and media collection. I works Great on Xbox and mobile.
  • Kofi looks better, but struggles to sync what is watched and not between devices, and cant sync content.
  • Krypton's(build 17) UI is just so ugly to me. I'll stick with 16 before they kill it
  • Just download the Confluence skin and use it on Kodi 17!
  • You can download a wide variety of 3rd party skins for Kodi from its integrated app store or 3rd-party app stores. I also dislike the release version of the new skin (Estuary) since I really hate the look of my content getting clipped off the screen edges--- it just looks sloppy and inefficient to me. The first version of Estuary was much cleaner and there is an excellent skin based on it (Estuary Mod) which is what I'm using now. My other favorite skin is Transparency!. If you like the old Confluence skin it's available in the Kodi app store as well. Choice is good :-)
  • I saw in the picture crackler whats that??
  • I also use the Exodus plugin in Kodi, so I can watch many TV shows and movies, this is so cool!!
  • so are they up-to-date movies (@ the cinema) , tv shows
  • Exodus is a content scraper. It goes through a lot of file hosting sites to find Movies/TV shows. It has up-to-date content; however, the legality of it is up for debate. The creator just a couple days ago said he is no longer going to be updating it due to the possible legal ramifications of it.
  • Okay, I read the article, but I still don't get why Kodi is necessary...or even desireable.  What does it actually do that is not already on a Windows PC or even the Xbox One?  The ONLY reason we bought our Xbox One was because it had the capability of being a central media hub for our house AND it had BOTH voice and gesture control of pretty much all of it. No need to pick up that stupid remote.  Once they ruined the dashboard and gutted the Kinect, there was no longer any value-added for the Xbox One.  I can do everything it now does either from a regular Windows PC or, in most cases, the smart TV we use (minus voice control).  We use Cortana on our phones and PCs already.
  • The main benefits of Kodi as I see it are: 1. It runs and looks the same on basically any device or OS you have (except Xbox). 2. It easily and seamlessly supports 3rd-party addons, which opens up the potential for unlimited media sources and viewing/listening options.
  • Kodi is indispensable to me. I've been using it for about 10 years and it's grown from being an interesting curiosity to being the centralized media hub in my house. It can scrape data for downloaded tv shows, movies, music, music videos, can stream/DVR live tv (I have an HDHomeRun Prime for that), can be controlled with a remote, can launch other apps (I have it running Steam and LaunchBox for gaming/emulation), etc. etc. etc. It's incredibly powerful and scales from simple needs to highly complex setups.
  • I just need it to work on Xbox. Once they do that ill be a happy f-er. Till then I'm one sad panda that has a bad time.
  • Android users...Install Kodi, then install Complete Kodi Setup Wizard, Open the wizard and Install Builds. Done...everything will be setup for you. :)
  • Horrible idea. Those wizards are unsupported and not recommended, and often install malware on your device.
  • Really?? Never had any problems with mine. 
  • I use Emby Server and the Ember for Emby client on Windows 10 Mobile / PC / XBOX ONE. Not as many plugins, but if all you're watching is your own content, it gets the job done. Some prefer Plex which also runs on XBOX ONE natively.  
  • Just heard about Ember. Didn't know it was available on Xbox One.
  • media center remote or xbmc second screen are way better client remote apps than the one you linked in the article
  • Kodi is 99% piracy. Good going WC.   Inb4 everyone disagrees and says they own terabytes of content. Nope.
  • I prefer to torrent my stuff.
  • Uhm not really. I have 8 friends who use Kodi and none of them pirate. I have all my DVDs and Blu-rays backed up to a media server in my basement. With Kodi I can access over 800 movies and shows in any room of my house instantly. The only pirates are young and likely can't afford to buy the content
  • Kodi is an open, extensible platform--- if you want to use it for piracy I guess that's your business, but to say that "Kodi is 99% piracy" is disengenuous at best. I don't use it for that purpose and neither do any of the dozen or so households I personally know. 
  • PCs can be used for piracy. Good going WC. /s
  • I really loved xbmc which is now Kodi. I installed my first mod chip on the original Xbox just for this and emulators. Such a great program I highly recommend it especially if you have a PC you can use as a media storage server. Even something old will work you just need to add storage
  • Nah, WIndows Media Center is better....
  • It was fine back in the day, but it's very limited now... and it's also dead.
  • If you are worried about piracy just watch what plug-in for kodi you install. Many of the illegal ones are just front-ends for streaming torrents.
  • Kodi is great for single device usage. But I find Plex, which is a fork of Kodi/XBMC, suits my needs much better, especially with multiple devices. If you have a spare PC to use as the Plex server back end, any device can pull from your centralized Plex server and keep track of your watched progress in sync. Kodi only does this per device, so if you have many devices, Kodi is much harder to keep track of things. Plex can also transcode to the formats the playback device supports, and can even stream outside your network if you have the bandwidth for it. Very useful if you have wifi access while traveling!
  • Yeah, that's the sole reason I use Plex--- streaming stuff outside my house or very occasionally to chromecasts on other TVs in the house. Kodi does a LOT more than just that, though. Anyway, you are correct--- if someone just  wants to stream their content Plex is a lot easier to set up than Kodi.