Wyzo, has released an alpha version of FireTorrent, a Firefox extension that adds BitTorrent support on Windows, with a Mac OS X version coming up. BitTorrent, is a distributed way of software and documents delivery in which users share data with each other without the need of a centralized provider.
Frequently associated with piracy, it is without a doubt an efficient vehicle on the Internet with social and political impact. That explains why many people keeps asking for native torrent support and developers around trying to implement it.
FireTorrent is a quick 500KB download and delivers an impeccable user experience: click in a .torrent file and Firefox’s well known download confirmation window appears. Smartly, the download confirmation asks for the torrent contents instead of the .torrent file which would be confusing for end users who shouldn’t care whether the download is will be delivered via a torrent, FTP or HTTP.
Torrents are then added to a new tab in the Download Manager, so all downloads reside on a single window. By default you get as little information as you do with the download manager: the file name, download progress and estimated time to completion. Press More Info and you get additional common torrent information: number of seeders, available seeders and the upload rate.
As an alpha it’s not free of bugs. For example on one attempt I received an error message because I didn’t have enough free space on disk for the download but got no retry option. I made up space but when clicking on the torrent file the download manager would appear and disappear and didn’t start it.
It is however very usable and a much better offering for integrated torrent support than FoxTorrent which I find to be a mess of a setup with an external service running in the background all the time, that demands its own Internet access through my firewall (ZoneAlarm) and a web based torrent manager that while fancy, lacks any kind of integration with the Download Manager and forces users to keep an eye on two places. In fact I still have the FoxTorrent review stuck among my drafts as I never cared enough to release it.
Wyzo, the group, also offers Wyzo, the product, a Firefox-based browser with integrated BitTorrent support which I’ll be checking out later.
Usability: 5/5 – Usefulness: 4/5 – Features: 5/5