Why, Wyzo?

A new Web browser based on Firefox lets you download torrent files directly from your the browser interface, and collects both your torrent and regular downloads in one manager. But why is there a browser when a Firefox extension would do?

A company named Wyzo recently released the first public version of its flagship product, the Wyzo browser. Built off the open-source Mozilla Firefox base, Wyzo is notable for incorporating the ability to download torrent files directly from the browser interface without a separate BitTorrent application.

Wyzo offers the ability to download torrent files only because of an extension named FireTorrent that comes pre-installed with the browser. The FireTorrent add-on uses technology such as iP2P, STUNT and unP2P to translate a torrent file into the actual download that the torrent represents. Unfortunately, one big problem I had with Wyzo was that I wasn't able to kill/remove any torrent downloads that stalled because of a lack of peers.

Because Wyzo is basically a skinned version of Firefox, most of your favorite Firefox extensions will work with it, including two of my favorites, All-in-One Sidebar and Tab Mix Plus. I did encounter a problem with tab displays in both Wyzo and Firefox with FireTorrent enabled. New tabs were sometimes condensed to a tiny width that couldn't display the tab title at all. I fixed the problem fairly easily with the tab-width setting in Tab Mix Plus, but the problem keeps resurfacing, so I'm assuming there is a bug.

Don't be fooled by the 596K file size for the Wyzo installer. It might seem like a dream to true to those of us waiting for a lighter weight and speedier version of Firefox, but that dream quickly dissolves during installation when Wyzo connects to a server to download another 8,876K of files. When running Wzyo, I also found that it used as much or more system resources as Firefox with the same number and type of tabs open.

Wyzo download manager
Wyzo keeps your regular and torrent downloads in one download manager. (Credit: CNET Networks)

I had much more success with the FireTorrent add-on for Firefox than with the full Wyzo client, though I honestly prefer the Web interface of FoxTorrent better than either one of those options. Rather than clog up your download manager with extra torrent downloads, FoxTorrent redirects you to a Web page that displays the progress of your download. With FoxTorrent, you can also actually play music or movies directly from that browser page using a Flash interface.

To be honest, I don't see much point in the Wyzo browser. I can understand why they might want to release a separate product for marketing reasons, but I can't imagine many users will adopt it. According to press releases, Wyzo is targeted users who are interested in downloading torrent files but aren't advanced enough to be familiar with Firefox extension. How many of those people do you know? Exactly.

Do you use any Firefox extensions to search for or download torrent files? Is it any easier than using a separate BitTorrent application?

About Peter Butler

Peter has been working at Download.com since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for Download.com, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.