Project Maelstrom was announced by BitTorrent back in December 2014. Since then the web browser has seen steady development. There were rumors that it has been pushed to a handpicked group of users last month as a closed beta, and now BitTorrent has launched its open beta to anyone who is interested. Project Maelstrom is a member of a Windows niche that can be deemed already overcrowded, specially given the fact that Microsoft is working on a web browser of its own these days. However, Project Maelstrom aims to make its own place by offering an environment that focuses on people who use and share torrents frequently. So, if you want to stream the contents of a torrent without actually downloading it, read on as Project Maelstrom might be the right choice for you.
Rather than focusing on appearing different from other Windows browsers, Maelstrom’s priority is to offer the functionality its users expect from a BitTorrent product. This means that the web browser has a UI that is nearly identical to Google Chrome’s interface. Since Project Maelstrom is Chromium-based, the UI similarity is to be expected.
Once you have installed Project Maelstrom on your Windows machine, it inquires if you want to make Maelstrom your default browser. A welcome screen also shows a brief description of the web browser, to clarify what makes it different from others. If you have been using Chrome, there isn’t anything new you will find on the surface of Project Maelstrom.
The real magic happens when you click on a magnet link from a torrent site. Usually, you need a torrent client to download such items, but with Project Maelstrom you can begin streaming content right within your browser. You can still choose to download the file just like you would download any ordinary, non-torrent document. The browser’s streaming screen is pretty good, and offers all the usual playback control options. As the product is in beta for now, the stream did crash on us a couple of times.
To customize the browser’s behavior, head to its ‘Settings’ menu and choose the desired parameters from the ‘Torrent Settings’ tab. Just like with BitTorrent’s main app, users can limit their upload / download rates, choose a download cache size to optimize performance and select different proxy settings.
If you are using BitTorrent, or another torrent client, on regular basis then having Project Maelstrom as your default web browser is a good idea. It takes all the goodness of Chrome and adds all the practical usefulness of BitTorrent to it. The browser will be released for Mac soon, but for now you can take it for a whirl on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer by heading to the following link.