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Popular torrent client uTorrent has gone through significant changes since it was acquired by BitTorrent in 2006. Launched in September 2005 as a minimalist, resource-friendly and free application for downloading torrents, is has evolved over the years to do far more than downloading, including streaming and playing music and videos within the client itself. As usual, some welcomed the new features and others resisted them, but the latest change is likely to get more of the latter: uTorrent is going ad-supported.
Advertisements will soon be integrated into the client in the form of "featured torrents" that sit in a highly visible spot just below the toolbar within the uTorrent UI.
These featured torrents will create an extra revenue stream by promoting "relevant" content from advertisers such as films, games, music, software and more – the company says this will in no way affect your privacy. They'll also be used to inform users of new products, features and services, as well as to promote independent artists.
You'll be able to skip offers of no interest to you by clicking an x within the ad, which will advance you to the next one. There is no way to turn in-client offers off but that may change in the future. "We may not get it right on the first try but we will continue to improve our efforts based on your feedback," BitTorrent said.
Currently nearly all of the company's annual revenue, estimated at somewhere between $15 and $20 million, comes from an optional toolbar that users can install when uTorrent is first downloaded. They are also backed by millions in venture capital and sell a Windows-only, premium version of their client known as uTorrent Plus for $25, which will continue to provide an ad-free experience.
With over 125 million active users per month, uTorrent stands to make quite a bit of cash for BitTorrent.