The first version of the Java based BitTorrent client Azureus was more than 5 years ago, and a lot of things have changed since then. Azureus was renamed to Zudeo, and later to Vuze. Backed by millions of dollars in venture capital the company launched its own distribution platform, which alienated some of its early users.
With the latest release, 4.0, Vuze once again introduces quite a few changes. The difference this time is that they emphasize more on the BitTorrent experience than their Vuze Network. The UI is more lightweight, less cluttered, and should appeal to both novices and hardcore BitTorrent users (old UI is still supported).
The most interesting change they made is to include BitTorrent search in the application. This allows users to search all their favorite BitTorrent sites from within the application. Mininova and BTjunkie are included by default, but any site can be added to the search, including private BitTorrent trackers.
We had the chance to discuss some of the major updates to the client with Vuze CEO, Gilles BianRosa.
TF: What was the reason to update the user interface of the client, and how is this new release an improvement to its predecessors?
Gilles: Our new UI has been directly inspired by the feedback of our users, who told us loud and clear that our previous UI was confusing and a little schizophrenic—with core torrent functionality they loved, and new features bolted on in odd places. So we’ve done a few things.
First and foremost, we’ve tried to have the application reflect our core functionality, and that’s what you’ll see across the top of the global toolbar: Find, Download, and Play. Second, you’ll see an intuitive left-nav framework that users have responded to extremely well, since it provides direct and persistent access to all of the product features. And finally, you’ll see improved category navigation within the Vuze HD Network, to enable our users to browse directly to the type of content that interests them.
Vuze search results
In terms of functionality, there are two key things users will appreciate in this release. First, there’s the new subscriptions, and second, there’s now private tracker login support for the meta-search functionality that we launched back in June.
TF: How do these new subcriptions work, and how are they different from the regular RSS feature most BitTorrent clients have?
Gilles: The new subscription feature enables users to request that specific content be sent to them automatically. Just click the orange Subscriptions button associated to content in your Library. You can set your subscriptions to download automatically, or simply to notify you when new items are available.
The big innovation here is that these subscriptions are initially created by users (usually power users) and then made available to everyone. This removes entirely the complexity associated with RSS for torrents, which tend to return lots of unwanted or duplicate results. Just click Subscribe!
TF: The latest release seems to offer an “all in one” solution where users can search, download and play content. Do you believe this approach will appeal to both advanced and new users?
Gilles: For the uninitiated, the BitTorrent ecosystem is a confusing one. In order to get up and running, a person has to find a tracker site, choose and download a torrent client, download a video player, and then figure out how each one works and how they all work together. For the new user who isn’t shown how it works, it’s almost impossible to figure out.
So, for new users, we’ve created an all-in-one BitTorrent client, that enables them to Find, Download, and Play high quality and HD content, all in one easy-to-use application. We think advanced users will like it too, since Vuze has all of the features it’s known for, plus some great new functionality like torrent meta-search with support for private trackers, and Subscriptions. As we’ve user tested the new Vuze, new and advanced users have found the all-in-one functionality to be both intuitive and powerful.
TF: You said before that you listened to feedback from users. How has this helped to develop the client?
Gilles: This release has been directly inspired by feedback from users. We’ve surveyed our users in multiple ways, talked with them on the phone, and watched them as they used the last version of Vuze client, as well as prototypes for this new one. We’ve talked to power users, casual users, and non-users. All of that is reflected in this release. That said, this release is just a foundation for the great things we’ve got in the development pipeline.
Vuze was scheduled to be launched today, but the release has been postponed for 48 hours. TorrentFreak readers who want to play around with an unofficial early release can grab it from Vuze (Win/Mac).