BitTorrent today launched a new BitTorrent client: uTorrent Web. Not to be confused with uTorrent (stylized as µTorrent), and despite what its name might suggest, you still have to download and install uTorrent Web.
BitTorrent commonly refers to the infamous peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing protocol associated with piracy. But there is also a company by the name of BitTorrent, which owns the two most popular clients for the protocol: BitTorrent and uTorrent.
uTorrent Web has been available in beta for years, but today the web-based torrent client is finally available as a stable version. The main difference between uTorrent Web and its counterparts is that all the downloading happens in your browser. Just like uTorrent, uTorrent Web can play audio and video files before they’ve finished downloading, but unlike uTorrent, the playback also happens inside the browser. Other file types can be downloaded as well — it’s really just like a normal BitTorrent client.
After installation, uTorrent Web will try to open torrent and magnet links automatically in a browser window. You can search for content on your regular torrent sites or use uTorrent Web’s search box, which redirects you to Google. Downloading is just as fast as you would expect, and playback is seamless — even subtitles are pulled in automatically, assuming they’re included in the torrent file.
The app’s settings are far from rudimentary. You can pick your language, your default download folder, and even whether to open each torrent in a new tab. It’s also possible to set uTorrent Web to start up when your computer boots or clear your search history, and of course you can choose uTorrent Web as your default torrent client.
The idea is that making all this possible inside the browser will make downloading torrent files easier for average internet users. At least, that’s how BitTorrent explains it:
When we first started the project, our vision was to build a torrent client with simplicity and quick playability. With a simple download to play experience as the focal point of µTorrent Web, we see more users successfully downloading and playing torrents than with any other product in BitTorrent’s history.
Despite today’s release, BitTorrent promises that the desktop version of uTorrent, which will now be referred to as uTorrent Classic, will live on: “Our long-term plan is to continue development across both products and make them available on utorrent.com.”
uTorrent Web is only available for Windows, but it will likely be ported to other operating systems if this launch is successful. In our testing, however, the experience wasn’t ideal — uTorrent Classic is still significantly simpler to install and use. But the fact that BitTorrent has managed to bring all the basic functionality into the browser is certainly a success.