June 17, 2005 4:12 PM PDT

Microsoft working on file-sharing application

Microsoft is working on its own file-sharing application, code-named Avalanche.

Unveiled at a Microsoft open house by its United Kingdom researchers in Cambridge, the project is the company's own take on peer-to-peer file-sharing technology such as BitTorrent.

While Avalanche is based on a different system than BitTorrent, both are essentially used for the same purpose--to distribute large files between a number of users. In BitTorrent's case, that's largely downloading Linux distributions and cracked versions of movies.

A Microsoft spokesman, however, said there was to be no network naughtiness with Avalanche: "It includes strong security to ensure content providers are uniquely identifiable and to prevent unauthorized parties from offering content for download."

BitTorrent works essentially by breaking the information, or files, down into chunks. To build up a BitTorrent file, a user needs all the chunks. Some, however, are made available more often than others, which can create problems. In the Avalanche P2P equivalent, not all the chunks are needed to complete the file. The downside of the Avalanche system is that users can actually end up downloading more chunks than they need. But, claims Microsoft, because the load is spread more evenly, it can be more efficient.

A Microsoft research paper on the technology both praises and criticizes BitTorrent: "Despite their enormous potential and popularity, existing end-system co-operative schemes such as BitTorrent, may suffer from a number of inefficiencies." The coding system used by Avalanche, which is based on network coding, is 20 percent more efficient with downloading, according to the research paper.

"We are currently investigating the benefits of using network coding to distribute very large files to a large number of users in realistic settings," the paper continues.

Microsoft's spokesman said there are currently no official plans to release the technology or include it in any products.

Builder UK's Jonathan Bennett contributed to this report.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.


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rehashing for the monopoly
could it be possible for microsoft to stop rehashing existing
protocols and codecs to then use their monopoly to push this on
everyone. i realise people have a choice, but realistically for
most pc users (such as my parents) when they have a download
available its assumed its neccessary or for the better.

why couldn't microsoft being as large as it is, actually create
something innovative and stop this rehashing of everybody elses
work and buying other software outright. it honestly makes
them look stupid if they basically can't do it themselves.
Posted by (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dunno if you're joking or not.

If you're downloading from 1 peer is it maxing out your connection?
Or are you downloading from hundreds?

Can you figure it out yourself or should I explain more.
Posted by (79 comments )
Link Flag
BitTorrent maxes out my Internet Connection...
...so how can Avalance be a whopping 20% faster?
Posted by hion2000 (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Less communication overhead would be one place to start the optimization process.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Ah yes... Innovation' strikes again
Once more, MS has discovered that it is far behind the software
power curve. And enough MS money has stuck to the wall to
give us 'Avalanche', or is that an overdressed underpowered

It coluld be better than Bittorrent, after all, MS has the advantage
of 'innovating' all the development work that went into

It's too bad that MS doesn't spend more time and money coming
up with an honest OS design - a solid core OS, supported by a
range of independant applications. Windows now is okay under
most circumstances, but I just wish that so much of the basic
Windows OS code wasn't hidden in IE and other 'bundled'
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Right on! Another "Innovation" by Microsoft:-(
I am so sick of this.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Innovation != Invention
I'm so sick of hearing this worthless argument. "Microsoft doesn't innovate." The heck they don't. Just because they didn't invent p2p software doesn't mean they can't be innovative in their implementation. If Microsoft can, for example, integrate DRM with P2P file-sharing, they will have an innovative product. Furthermore, it would be the first P2P software that can seriously be considered as a tool for business use. If you want to complain about people who copy approaches, ideas, and even straight code, look no further than GNU/Linux and dozens of other sub-standard open-source rip-offs of proprietary software.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Funny, the Timing...
This is happening right when the "Supreme Court" is due to make its final decision on the legal-culpability of "P2P Companies", with regards to the illegal-actions of its customers.

And, Magically, Microsoft just happens to announce its own "P2P" network, ...which will apparently clearly "identify" P2P Users and distributors, -allowing for enforcement of such "Intellectual Property Rights".

And, do not forget that Microsoft is a company desperately trying to force ITS OWN "DRM" control-standards upon consumers, apparently generally against their will, ...at this very time.

HHHMMM... Funny, huh..?
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a joke
I have to say that p2p file sharing is a really great thing! All though everyone is right M$ is just re-inventing the wheel. As far as making sure illegal stuff doesn't get on, sounds to me like a program that will really need to be constantly updated in order to make sure that doesn't happen. If Microsoft continues to put out problemmatic stuff like they always have...well, you know the rest. Either way i'm sticking to Kaaza Lite ;-)
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
BitTorrent Protocol
"To build up a BitTorrent file, a user needs all the chunks. Some, however, are made available more often than others, which can create problems."

I think you should take a deeper look at the BitTorrent protocol. The problem you are talking about here is tackled by the 'rarest first' protocol.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.bittorrent.com/bittorrentecon.pdf" target="_newWindow">http://www.bittorrent.com/bittorrentecon.pdf</a>

Microsoft is always re-inventing the wheel, that too a wheel that fits only on vehicles made in a certain factory. It is a shame that this mamoth company with all its resources &#38; money cannot come with anything innovative in its products &#38; protocols.

Even without any alpha of Avalance being available, Microsoft is touting it is "better" than BT. Typical Microsoft approach of talking before walking.
Posted by pythonhacker (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Could be good
The current distribution system for files is limited. When the Battlefield 2 demo was released last week to a limited amount of websites, every web server hosting it was hammered. EA should have just made its own download page with a simple bittorrent client, and the bittorrent file. Problme solved.

Except that most people associate bittorrent with pirating/warex etc.
This could also put places like FilePlanet out of business, so expect resistance.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The same case in JAPAN
I found the same case at MicrosoftCaseStudy.

[Telecommunications Leader Creates Secure Document-Sharing Infrastructure]
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies/CaseStudy.asp?CaseStudyID=16052" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies/CaseStudy.asp?CaseStudyID=16052</a>

Is this case study issue related with ? I guess.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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