Great news for all the Apple TV users out there; the Boxee team has just announced that it will be offering the alpha software to all Apple and Ubuntu users.
The Boxee software is a media library front end that acts as an alternative to iTunes on the Apple TV, OS X, and Linux computers. Besides bringing integrations from IMDB, Amazon, and other indexing services, Boxee is also capable of playing a multitude of file formats such as Xvid, Divx, OOG, and WMV.
Despite its obvious advantages to the built in iTunes software, its most important feature has to be the ability to stream free content from services such as hulu.com and netflix on demand. This essentially allows your Apple TV to replace other media devices such as the Roku Netflix player or even paid services offered by Microsoft on the Xbox 360.
Since its inception in early 2007, Boxee has been in closed Alpha testing and users were only able to gain access through invitations only. Over 150,000 users have signed up for the alpha stage according to Boxee’s developer, Avner Ronen. But the Boxee team will be opening up the alpha testing stage to all users as of January 8, 2009. Unfortunately, the software is not currently available for Windows users, but a version is reportedly in the works.
In order for the Boxee software to run on an Apple TV, arguably the platform of choice, users are required to hack the device (which is similar in concept to jailbreaking an iPhone). This doesn’t void your warranty as doing a factory restore on your Apple TV can easily reverse the hack. Boxee was developed on the open sourced XBMC, which has similar functions but was able to be installed on a modified first generation Xbox.