BitTorrent today launched Project Maelstrom, the company’s distributed browser, in beta. The company also released new tools on GitHub that let developers and publishers build content for the browser.
Announced in December, BitTorrent described Project Maelstrom, then just an invite-only alpha, as “the first torrent-based browser.” The launch today is an open beta, meaning anyone can now try an early version of Maelstrom.
You do, however, need a Windows computer. Windows users can download the beta now from here. Since the alpha, BitTorrent says it has improved stability, integrated support for automatic updates, and added DHT visualization for users when loading torrents.
While the alpha was only made available to “a small group of testers,” BitTorrent said today it plans to quickly grow the test group with its new beta program. In fact, the project has already managed to garner quite a bit of interest in just four months. The company says it has more than 10,000 developers and an additional 3,500 publishers “who will help us build the next 20 years of the Internet.”
Maelstrom is essentially useless without a group of interested to build for it. The browser currently doesn’t really do all that much, because there just isn’t much to browse.
BitTorrent has very big ambitions for this project. The company says that a browser with a distributed protocol can “open a better future for publishers, creators, and users” thanks to “a more efficient, scalable, and cost-effective alternative to HTTP.”
Yet the company may be getting a bit ahead of itself. It describes a vision for “a truly neutral, content-friendly network” and “a sustainable, content-friendly Internet, powered by people.”
A truly distributed web is no easy feat, as it means not using any centralized servers. Yet this is by no means a new idea from the company: It’s the core of its relatively successful synchronization tool BitTorrent Sync.
Building a browser that allows for a completely new way to publish, access, and consume content is certainly not impossible. As many startups learn firsthand, though, “build it and they will come” isn’t as simple as it sounds.
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