Xbox hackers release media player

Programmers posting on an Xbox hacker site say they have developed an "Xbox Media Player" that allows people to play videos in the VCD format used in bootleg versions.

The first homemade software to take advantage of new hacker add-ons for the Xbox has started to dribble onto the Internet, including a media player that purportedly runs DivX video files.

Programmers posting on the XboxHacker Web site said they have completed an initial version of "Xbox Media Player." The software allows modified Xbox consoles to play videos in the VCD format, commonly used for bootleg movie discs, and versions 3.x and 4.x of DivX, a controversial compression format used to swap videos over the Internet. Future versions of the application will include support for MP3 and Windows Media Audio files, according to the developers.

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The application was written on a PC, the developer, who identified himself only by his hacker name, "d7o3g4q," said in an e-mail. But it can be run on an Xbox outfitted with a mod chip, a gray-market add-on that allows the consoles to run homemade software and bypass security measures built into the game console. The software is available on several sites, most notably that of mod chip retailer Lik Sang.

Microsoft representatives have said the software giant is investigating legal options to shut down makers of mod chips.

Hackers have been battling ever since the Xbox went on the market to exploit the console's PC-based design and run their own software.

Projects in the works include an effort to port the open-source Linux operating system to the Xbox and several projects to create "emulators" that would allow the Xbox to run games created for other home consoles and arcade machines.

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