XBMC has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a media player for hacked Xbox consoles. The software is now available in a variety of flavors, including versions for Windows, OS X, Linux, and even a bootable distro designed to run entirely off a thumb drive. For Christmas, a beta of the next release, 11.0, trickled onto the web, bringing a smattering of upgrades both large and small. Here's a quick summary of the highlights:
Milestones include Addon Rollbacks, vast improvements in Confluence (the default skin), massive speed increases via features like Dirty-region rendering and the new JPEG decoder, a simpler, better library, additional protocol handling, better networking support, better handling of unencrypted BluRay content and structures, adjustable display refresh rate in OSX (to match the already available feature in Windows and Linux), AirPlay support, an upgraded weather service, and much more.
Version 11.0 will apparently work much better with remotes, and it's supposed to offer a measure of GPU-accelerated video decoding with AMD graphics hardware under Linux. Interestingly, this is also the first "stable release" for iOS devices like the iPad and Apple TV. Improvements have been promised to the Linux installer, although they're not quite ready for release.
The XBMC 11.0 beta can be downloaded on this page. I'm currently grabbing a copy for my own home-theater PC and the media box I have out in the garage, but I'm a little leery of using beta software for our primary source of living-room entertainment.