Next uTorrent version to be browser based

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 24, 2017

In the latest episode of Torrentfreak's Steal This Show podcast, BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen reveals that the next uTorrent version will run in a web browser.

When it comes to popular BitTorrent clients, uTorrent is probably the most popular of them all. With about 150 million active users per month, it easily beats other popular Bittorrent solutions by a large margin.

While that is the case, development has stalled more or less in the past five or so years. Updates were released regularly for the application, but new features that would get users excited about were not really released.

One of the main reasons for that was the focus on other endeavors by uTorrent's parent company BitTorrent Inc.

While uTorrent attributes to a large percentage of the company's revenue, focus was laid on expanding the business in other directions using the popular technology as the backbone. The company launched BitTorrent Sync -- which was renamed to Resilio Sync later on and moved to its own business -- and BitTorrent Live, a P2P real-time streaming technology for instance.

uTorrent meanwhile continued to be successful, but criticism of the program and its parent company rose. Ads were introduced in the program, and it all culminated in the bundling of a Bitcoin miner with the application. The company promised later on to move away from the bundled software monetization model.

Things have calmed down at BitTorrent Inc, according to the interview. About 50 people work for the company which wants to focus on proven products in the future.

uTorrent in the web browser

The company makes most of its money from advertisement in uTorrent. This is not going away, according to the interview. What must come as a surprise to many users of the program however is that the future version of uTorrent will run in a browser.

Moving a desktop program to the browser is a major undertaking and cut, one that will certainly be disliked by part of the program's userbase.

According to Cohen, the web based uTorrent will offer a "nicer experience", "modern widgets", and a "greatly improved streaming experience" as users may stream torrents directly from the browser.

What is going to happen to the desktop client? Cohen does not say; maybe some form of integration is planned, a side by side option at least for the foreseeable future, or, and that is also a possibility, it is abandoned once users start to move to the web based version.

A web-based version offers advantages and disadvantages over desktop programs. On the pro side, there is nothing to run or install anymore, as it runs in a browser. It may also be run from any location, but it is unclear right now how the actual handling of the torrent files is going to happen.

On the negative side, users will likely have to register accounts to use the web version. Some data will be stored in the cloud, which, depending on what uTorrent is being used for, may not be in the interest of part of the userbase.

As far as the future is concerned, BitTorrent Inc could introduce subscriptions, cloud-based storage options, VPN support, use of its own servers for file transfers, and more.

Closing Words

A web-based version will certainly be more lucrative than the standalone client. The main question is how many of uTorrent's current users are willed to move to the web-based version of the client, and how the migration will take place.

Now You: What's your take on the decision?

Next uTorrent version to be browser based
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Next uTorrent version to be browser based
In the latest episode of Torrentfreak's Steal This Show podcast, BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen reveals that the next uTorrent version will run in a web browser.
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  1. Sal said on September 20, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I switched to qBittorrent. Biggest problem for me was that uTorrent has no option to bind to VPN. The former workaround of adding a Firewall block for the Local IP also no longer works when using latest uTorrent with Win 10 v 1703. uTorrent now just adds corollary exceptions to whatever rule you create. I had two techs at TorGuard have a go at it and two TeamViewer sessions later we all reached the same conclusion: that it is just no longer possible. With that kind of behavior I can only imagine what kind of invasive protocols will be linked to a browser client version. Goodnight uTorrent … you served us well but it’s time to move on.

  2. Shadess said on May 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Got 0 interest for utorrent in the browser.

  3. Graham said on April 25, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I stopped using uTorrent a long time ago. It keeps getting worse and it’s not worth the trouble anymore.

  4. komputernerd said on April 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    The comments have your answer! Read them and weep!

  5. Mick said on April 25, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I hope its not going to be as bad as the Firefox extension called Torrent Tornado, which finds only very few peers and gives you a fraction of the speed any normal client will. I’ve used qBittorent in the past couple years anyway.

  6. Ed Gein said on April 25, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Sorry but i’ve already moved on from utorrent, my needs are perfectly met by TIXATI

  7. Tom said on April 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

    still using 1.6.1, does exactly what it is supposed to.

  8. Sordino said on April 24, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Do you know if this is made possible because of WebAssembly, assuming add-ons can use it ? (Can they ?)

    Or will it be rewritten in JavaScript.

  9. Robert said on April 24, 2017 at 10:13 am

    What a great way to data mine info. You will be able to hit the share buttons and expose your torrent habits to trackers and the feds while logged in to the super cookie called the Microsoft login account. It’s an everybody wins idea.

    1. sadsa said on April 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Unless it’s open-source or self-hosted, but yeah, that’ll never happen.

    2. Sordino said on April 24, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      I have way more control over my browser than whatever custom client they make, especially if they bundle stuff like ads and bitcoin mining and what have you. Or at least this is true for Firefox.

      1. buck said on April 24, 2017 at 5:05 pm

        Closed source vs Open source argument. If source code is not available you must assume the worst these days, thus why qBittorrent is a much safer option than uTorrent regardless of the platform.

        Just because it runs in a browser doesn’t really give you more control, javascript will be a pre-requisite for uTorrent in the browser, thus advanced fingerprinting techniques will be be employed to identify you and associate you with your torrent activities. This will be onsold and incorporated in the Big Data ecosystem.

        Bottom line is BitTorrent Inc are on a mission to maximise revenue at almost any cost.

    3. buck said on April 24, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Browser fingerprinting and tracking users to capture their detailed torrent downloading habits for financial gain. Onsell this potentially damaging torrent searching and download data into the Big Data machine, who amalgamate this data to an existing profile, which is in turn onsold to anyone who wants it.

      Seriously, how dumb do they think people are? W10 users dumb? I swear the collective IQ of humanity is dropping each and every year.

      qBittorrent FTW. Open source, transparent, and private-ish with a good VPN.

  10. Yuliya said on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Bad. My browser peaks at 6GB of RAM usage, I’m not willing to torrent with it as well. I assume it’s going to be extension based. I’ll keep using the desktop program. Btw, you can remove all the cr.p that uTorrent has by default:
    imgur com/jkb5Lgo
    I use the portable (PAF) version, but you can do the same with the installlable version (it installis in AppData unfortunately).

  11. God hates Figs said on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Still using 2.0.4 with no issues whatsoever.

    1. asd said on April 24, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      same here, using utorrent 2.0.4 since before it was sold out, and not planning to update any time soon. Tried qBittorrent several times throughout the past few years and unfortunately it was unusable because it was so buggy and unreliable.

  12. switch said on April 24, 2017 at 9:58 am

    And what’s wrong with Tixati !?

  13. Richard Allen said on April 24, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I’ll take a look at the browser version but I doubt if I move from the desktop program. No, I don’t think that will happen, I’m still using version 3.2.3, even with it’s bugs, so for me to change to something different there would have to be a very compelling reason to do so. I’m curious to know how that will work with the proxy that I use just for torrents. Would a move to a VPN be necessary? How about the ‘Advanced’ settings for the disk cache? How will that work, if it does? Just over a week ago I renewed my one year proxy subscription and I’m comfortable with how that works in the desktop client. So… We’ll see how the browser version works out.

  14. PD said on April 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

    The advent of WebAssembly may have played a role in this move. It’s quite possible other apps will follow as the web becomes a more compelling platform with near-native performance.

  15. edgydog said on April 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

    I’ve been using qBittorrent on Windows for a while now and I don’t know why people still use uTorrent…
    Even when I was using OS X back in the days, Transmission was my first choice.

    1. Harushi said on April 24, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Why not. I’m using portable version of uTorrent. It has a modern and good-looking UI, various options, … And you can disable ads completely through its options. I’ve used uTorrent since I knew how to torrent and I used to switch to other torrent apps. But when I found the portable version of uTorrent, I decided to use this until now.

  16. Kenneth Knudsen said on April 24, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I’m not willing to let such a sensitive app live in the cloud, i prefer my torrenting to live entirely on my PC where i have the greater control (yes i know i’m a bit of a control freak). There is no telling what BitTorrent Inc. can and/or will do once a large portion of it moves to the cloud, I’m just not comfortable with that, so dear BitTorrent Inc. IF/WHEN you make that move i WILL find another client for my torrenting, and that’s a fact, not a threat.

  17. insanelyapple said on April 24, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I’m not using it for years since last relatively normal and clean version which was 2.2.1.

    Comments section on torrentfreak site are interesting regarding utorrent plans – from bringing up mentioned 2.2.1 version to wondering if new browser-based client will be safe to use considering US legislation and/or the “regular” user tracking.

    Personally, I’m satisfied with Transmission client for Windows for some time.

  18. ilev said on April 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

    For torrent/magnet streaming including subtitles use Soda Player 1.1.1 (Mac, Windows) which include support for Apple TV/AirPlay and Chromecast.

  19. LucasS said on April 24, 2017 at 7:52 am

    If it was “web-based” like rtorrent/rutorrent, I wouldn’t actually mind, but it being totally web-based is kinda of bad in my humble opinion, since it’ll probably be less secure and private than the standard application model. I might be wrong though, who knows…

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