Not too long ago, Microsoft announced its Xbox Video Service. It has proven to be clunky, and at times, non-functional. Users have been experiencing all sorts of problems with it. From extremely slow downloads to glitches and failed transfers. Even Xbox’s Larry Hryb said “technical issues have resulted in a very unpleasant experience” for users. The BBC recently reported on the Xbox Video Service problems:
The problems reflect the difficulty companies – even those of the size of Microsoft – are having in getting video into the online age.
Video content in high definition results in very large file sizes – which can put a strain on servers when delivering content to thousands of people at the same time.
When Microsoft released the second Beta of Windows Vista, it had a major bandwidth problem on its hands. The demand for it was so high that they had to resort to limiting bandwidth to “prevent the internet from collapsing.” This resulted in slower downloads for everyone. The genial Chris Pirillo then created Vistatorrent.com to give Microsoft a hand by easing the load on their servers. Microsoft didn’t seem to mind initially, but later sent Vistatorrent a cease and desist letter, a framed version of which was later presented to Prillio and the gang at Gnomedex.
So what’s a poor multinational to do?
Use BitTorrent, of course! Here’s how BitTorrent could help Microsoft.
First of, with the Vista Beta downloads, it only made sense for Microsoft to release an official torrent. The result of Microsoft not doing was a host of “pirated” Vista torrents being uploaded, the quality and authenticity of which Microsoft couldn’t assure. And when you’re offering a Beta version, you want people to download it and thoroughly test it for bugs, not limit enthusiastic fans (if that’s what you can call them).
Secondly, if Microsoft’s Xbox Video Service used BitTorrent to distribute content it would speed up downloads and ensure that they are not interrupted. It would also save Microsoft a lot of money on bandwidth bills, because as you probably know, files are downloaded from other people over BitTorrent and the load is spread out, not focused on a few servers. Users could even get free ‘points’ (or Microsoft Monopoly money, as Macworld likes to call it) for seeding torrents. The overall experience of purchasing content and downloading it would be a lot more streamlined and smooth.
The only possible drawback is that users won’t be able to start watching a movie after just a few minutes of downloading, since BitTorrent downloads aren’t chronological, bits are prioritised by the number of people uploading them (the less seeders sharing a bit, higher the priority it’s given), and not by the actual order in which they are in the file.