Bittorrent has just released a first beta version of Bittorrent 8 for the Windows operating system. The beta client features a user interface redesign and personal content channels. The user interface sports a new color scheme and layout. The dominating colors are all shades of gray and purple, a mixture that is actually not as easy on the eye as one would think. Purple text on gray background is sometimes hard to read.
But you do not only get purple text, you also get purple borders, a purple BitTorrent logo and prominent feedback button. It also seems harder to concentrate on a single element of the interface because of that new color scheme.
The interface itself looks like a metro experiment gone wrong, with no options to change the design to an older layout or to make color changes.
Personal content channels is the big new feature in Bittorrent 8. It's aim is to simply sharing files over Bittorrent, which is now possible even if you do not know what torrents are or how you create them.
You can create an unlimited number of channels and add files to them. Once you have done that you can invite friends, colleagues, family or the whole wide world to download files from that channel.
Here is how you configure your channel in detail. Click on the arrow icon next to My Files in the BitTorrent client interface.
You then have the option to add a name, channel title and icon.
The channel interface loads once you hit the save button. Each channel has three distinct content sections. First the header with options to write messages or add content, second the file and message listing and third the sharing sidebar.
Content can be added by selecting already downloaded torrents or new files from the computer's hard drive. Selected files are automatically added to the channel's content listing.
It is only possible to add one file at a time from the local hard drive, which might become tiresome if you want to add more than a handful of them.
The BitTorrent software handles the uploading and creation of the torrent files. This is especially helpful for users with little technical experience.
Users can be invited by email, with a direct link to the channel or by posting the news on Twitter or Facebook.
All invited users and the channel owner can post comments or messages, but only the channel owner can post new files. Comments and messages are updated in real-time.
The link points directly to the download of the latest version of the Bittorrent software. The software comes bundled with the custom content channnel.
The custom version will install BitTorrent on the system if it is not already installed. It will otherwise add the custom channel to the version of BitTorrent on the computer system.
Please note that there is no way to create private channels. Even though channels are not publicly advertised, they are publicly available if someone manages to get the right web address for a channel. That said, it should be clear that personal content channels should not be used for important or personal files, considering that third parties who should not be able to access them might.
It appears as if the files that you want to share are uploaded to BitTorrent servers. This is likely done to ensure their full availability even if the channel owner goes offline.
It is mentioned in the beta announcement that channels do not have a file size limit during beta, and that their creation is free. This suggests that paid plans are in development and available with the release of the final version.
Windows users can download the beta of BitTorrent 8.0 from the Chrysalis web page at BitTorrent.com.
Update: The beta has been removed from the site and is no longer available.
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