Presenting: ?BitTorrent

BitTorrent's purchase of ?Torrent last winter has finally come to fruition with its first major-point upgrade in more than two years. But ?Torrent has also upgraded--has BT stolen ?'s thunder?

If you use torrents frequently, then you'll remember December 7, 2006, as a day that will live on in infamy, a day that teh Interwebs broke in half--just a little. That was the day that BitTorrent, Bram Cohen's torrent progenitor, announced it had bought ?Torrent, the free-but-closed-source torrent client that showcased innovative features in a surprisingly lightweight app.

Now, two years since their last upgrade, BitTorrent has released its first version that combines ?Torrent code with its own open-source base, and ?Torrent has also come out with a minor-point upgrade. Confused? Read on.

BitTorrent 6 is a complete overhaul from its previous incarnation. The interface is the same as ?Torrent's, except for three toolbar icon changes that look more like variations than outright differences. The contents of the menus in the menubar are now identical to ?Torrent as well, which means that advanced functionality like tweaking your Web UI has finally come to the BitTorrent client.

The differences between uTorrent and BitTorrent are now barely measurable. Can you spot where they diverge?

(Credit: CNET Networks, Inc.)

?Torrent has maintained its small footprint on system resources. BT has shrunk, correspondingly, and that's a good thing: there's nothing like bloatware to drive users away.

Both feature an RSS tracker and search bar, but it's the search results where ?Torrent and BitTorrent diverge. Where ?Torrent's search takes you to the MiniNova torrent site, BitTorrent's goes to BitTorrent.com, a pay-for-most-content site. There's also a menubar item in the BitTorrent client called Get Stuff, with links to Movies, TV, Music and Games? all at the BitTorrent content site.

BitTorrent did contribute a few stable tools to uTorrent, so all the changes weren't flowing in just one direction.

(Credit: CNET Networks, Inc.)

However, there's been no indication that BitTorrent is going to abandon one client or the other, which is why they're keeping the eponymous client open source and ?Torrent locked down in closed source. Since they're keeping both around, there's been some message board chatter about positioning the smaller ?Torrent as the portable program and the full BitTorrent as the one for desktop use, but it's hard to say at this point.

For now, I'm going to keep using ?Torrent as my go-to client.

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