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The children of Napster

New file-exchange programs are everywhere. News Windows hed: dek:

Whether you’ve given up on the new subscription-based Napster, or you’re just looking for a few good alternatives to check out in the event that the file-exchange server goes down for good, here’s a handful of popular freeware and shareware peer-to-peer programs that are gathering a decent numbers of users.

FastTrack’s KaZaA Media Desktop enables peer-to-peer file sharing for users with Windows Media Player 6.4 and Internet Explorer 4.0. You can search and download media files–audio, video, images, and documents–from other KaZaA users (the company boasts an average 370,000 users online simultaneously), and the program includes an integrated media jukebox and the ability to publish your own work. The latest update includes a user file list, and gives users the ability to search by source or size criteria (a nice feature when you’re looking for something just a little bigger or smaller), search while downloading, limit the number of concurrent uploads, and speed up searches, and FastTrack has also beefed up security a bit. It’s a free download www.kazaa.com.

BearShare, a Gnutella client by FreePeers Inc., lets users search, download, and share files with everyone on the Gnutella network. The latest version–2.2.6–includes handy features such as keyword highlighting for search results, the ability to search and download any type of file, bandwidth detection and avoidance, monitoring and updating of directories, a setup wizard, an online community forum to help you use the network, and customizable filters (including a family filter that will weed out adult content). The latest version has also cleared up previous problems with the use of hyperlink control, changed default settings to improve search accuracy, and fixed thread synchronization that caused occasional crashes when exiting the program. BearShare is a free download www.bearshare.com/download.htm.

Hotline Communications’ Hotline Connect Client (v.1.85) is a suite of two Internet-based applications–Hotline Client and Hotline Server–that enables downloading and sharing files with its 3 million users. Users can interact with Hotline community members using the program’s real-time chat feature, even during download time. Hotline Client also lets users post news and messages, and it includes real-time messaging, conferencing, data warehousing, file transfer, and streaming multimedia capabilities. The Hotline Server lets users open their servers on their own terms–limit access to friends and family, or open your files to everyone on the network. Both applications are free downloads www2.bigredh.com/hotline3.

Smirck v1.1 simultaneously connects users to multiple OpenNap servers, making it even easier to find a wide variety of MP3s. This new release works for all Windows operating systems, including Windows 95, and all Windows-related bugs have been fixed. Smirck has also streamlined the registration process. User feedback on Smirck’s site shows that the free program is fast and easy to use http://www.smirck.com.

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