BitTorrent has released a major update for its wildly popular filesharing client this week, marking the debut of its first paid version. Called uTorrent Plus, the software is being sold for $24.95 a year and infuses the (once?) lean, mean, downloading machine with a host of new features, including integrated support for converting popular video file types, such as MPEG4, H.264, Theora, and VP8, as well as MP3, AAC, and AC-3 audio files.
Paid users can also expect a built-in antivirus powered by BitDefender, an HD media player and remote access tools that allow you to control your home torrent client through any supported browser. You'll also be able to download files from your home torrent library to the remote device you're using. Those new functions might sound great on the surface, but BitTorrent seems to be receiving a mixed response from the community.
Ironically, those faithful to the software don't seem particularly angry that the company is charging for a premium version. Instead, they seem to disagree with the developer's choice of adding unnecessary features. Many subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy and uTorrent originally rose to stardom for maintaining a trim waistline. While most of the extras are limited to the paid software, some have trickled down to the free version.
Anyone can install a free copy of uTorrent 3.1, which has also been released this week and now includes an integrated standard definition media player as well as drag-and-drop file shifting to other devices, such as a game console or smartphone. We imagine the new features are largely out of the way and don't consume much in terms of system resources, but folks seeking greener pastures might want to try Deluge, qBittorrent or Tixati.