We knew that BitTorrent was working on its own browser, and now it’s here in beta form for Windows. Based on Chromium, Project Maelstrom is designed to decentralize the web in the same way that torrents do, relying on a people-powered network of sites and files rather than large server hubs.
“With Project Maelstrom, we aim to deliver technology that can sustain an open Internet; one that doesn’t require servers, that allows anyone to publish to a truly open Web, and that uses the power of distributed technology to scale efficiently,” explains BitTorrent’s Rob Velasquez on the company blog.
BitTorrent says 10,000 developers and 3,500 publishers have come on board with the project since a closed alpha launch in December. The aim is to get the web working more like BitTorrent does, with multiple copies of data spread across the globe, though the browser will of course open websites hosted in the regular way if you want it to. A fresh batch of developer tools has also been released into the wild.
There’s also a privacy motivation here: Distributed data means more control for users over their personal information, at least in theory, because you aren’t signing your data over to one company’s servers. It would also help promote net neutrality, with data being pulled in from multiple sources. Websites can be created and distributed in the same way as any other type of torrent, and (for now) are represented by a string of numbers and letters rather than a URL.
With the code based on Chromium, the browser looks very sparse and Chrome-like. As you would expect, there’s integrated support for any torrents you find on the web, like Thom Yorke’s latest solo album — click on one of the links and you’re good to go. Remember this is beta software, so there are likely to be one or two bugs, but if you want to give it a go you can download Project Maelstrom from here.