BitTorrent creator slams Microsoft's methods

BitTorrent creator slams Microsoft's methods

Summary: Microsoft's proposed competitor to BitTorrent is "vapourware" and its paper on the subject is "complete garbage," BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen claims.Writing in his blog about Microsoft's planned 'Avalanche' distributed file-sharing solution, Cohen said people were taking the product too seriously.

TOPICS: Piracy, Legal
Microsoft's proposed competitor to BitTorrent is "vapourware" and its paper on the subject is "complete garbage," BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen claims.

Writing in his blog about Microsoft's planned 'Avalanche' distributed file-sharing solution, Cohen said people were taking the product too seriously.

"I'd like to clarify that Avalanche is vapourware," he wrote. "It isn't a product which you can use or test with, it's a bunch of proposed algorithms. There isn't even a fleshed-out network protocol. The 'experiments' they've done are simulations."

"It's a bad idea to give too much weight to simulations, especially of something so hairy as real-world Internet behaviour."

Cohen came down heavily on the research paper that Microsoft used to introduce its technology. While the paper attempted to compare the Internet traffic methodology behind BitTorrent to Avalanche, Cohen said the analysis came up short.

"I think that paper is complete garbage," he wrote.

The developer said Microsoft had completely misunderstood the way BitTorrent operated. The paper quotes "the tit-for-tat approach used in the BitTorrent network" as an inspiration for parts of Avalanche's own operation. Under the approach, a peer-to-peer client will not upload any content to another client unless it has also received a certain amount of content in return.

Cohen said, however, this was a waste of time and had been discarded long ago.

"I can't fathom how they came up with this," he wrote. "Researching either the source code or the documentation on the BitTorrent Web site would have shown that the real choking algorithms work nothing like this."

"Either they just heard 'tit-for-tat' and just made this up, or they for some odd reason dredged up BitTorrent 1.0 and read the source of that." BitTorrent is currently at version 4.0.2.

Cohen went on to say that the 'tit-for-tat' approach was used when BitTorrent was still being developed, but that the first real-world test with only six connected machines showed that it did not work well.

"This gaffe alone makes their simulation completely worthless, but it isn't the only one," he wrote.

The BitTorrent creator said the paper misjudged the amount of peers each BitTorrent client will connect to while downloading. While the paper assumed that number was between four and six, he said in real life BitTorrent typically utilised between 30 and 50.

"In other words, intentionally or not, the simulation is completely rigged against BitTorrent," he concluded.

But Cohen didn't write off the paper entirely, saying despite its flaws, it could still be useful.

"Unfortunately, [the paper] is actually one of the better academic papers on BitTorrent, because it makes some attempt, however feeble, to do an apples to apples comparison," he said.

Topics: Piracy, Legal

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  • Microsoft's use of FUD ("Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt") when involved in (real or potential) competition is well documented.

    However, equally well noted by many commentators is their use of distractingly inaccurate plans or comparisons during the initial stages of a project.

    I have little doubt that the inaccuracies were well understood by Microsoft, but that this is just one of their traditional comapaigns.

    P.S. I am not a Microsoft hater. I legitimately own and use more of their software than any other single commercial vendor.
  • This is really getting pathetic. MS can't seem to do real tech anymore. Their profits are earned with legal, political and advertising forces, not real development and innovation.

    just pathetic :(
  • The Microsoft paper has strengths that aren't cancelled by their characterization of Bittorent. Its chief innovation is the idea of combining Bittorent's peer-to-peer mechanism with a Tornado code such as is used by Digital Fountain. The authors seem unaware of Digital Fountain's patent position which is extremely strong in this area (whoever wrote these patents is a true artist); the proposed invention clearly infringes on the Digital Fountain patents and the Microsoft authors are clearly aware of Digital Fountain's prior art.
  • Sounds like Bram Cohen is getting scared he will eventually be isolated and left behind.Market places dont work well under anarchistic or communist values.Open free trade and reward for effort supports the market and ultimately far more people then merely opportunistic looters and thieves.Get real P2P,ers. Develop the software with the filtering systems intact, not conveniently circumvented. No one likes to be stolen from. This is not just an issue for "Big Business" content providers [who I have no allegiance to] but also for small content creators like myself.
  • Bitorrent is very popular, Don't care about MS options

    "Bitrrent" in danger of being replaced by MS?, No. What other file sharing protocol is so popular and efficient as it is bitorrent? The 2 most common options for file downloading use or direct HTTP or Bitorrent; the main point of bitorrent is to distribute the load on the network, MS options are most of the time directed toward vendor locking, they want to sell and coerce