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Kazaa - Not Just for Newbies
August 25, 2004
Thomas Mennecke
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There was a time when FastTrack was the pinnacle of file-sharing. Not only did it manage to take the file-sharing crown, but offered a reliable means to get the files you want. Sound strange? Chances are if this description of FastTrack sounds foreign to you, perhaps you were not around during the days of Morpheus.

When FastTrack first arrived on the P2P scene, it was only accessible by KaZaA. Notice the capital "Z" and "A". When Kazaa was owned by KaZaA BV in the Netherlands, it was spelled in this manner. Sharman changed the capitalization to distinguish ownership. In the early part of 2001, Morpheus dropped its support of OpenNap and joined the FastTrack network.

While this may seem like a foreign concept today, FastTrack was accessible without fear of any kind of spyware, adware, hijackware or scamware. Files were plentiful and corrupt mp3s were virtually unheard of. Slowly, the situation began to degrade. Sharman Networks took control of FastTrack and the Kazaa software, and the network was never the same again.

The first kick to the P2P community was the elimination of the Morpheus software. At the time, Morpheus was a highly respected client, and many frowned upon its loss. Later, the installation of third party spyware, sanctioned by Sharman Networks, further infuriated users. Lastly, the rampant proliferation of corrupt and false files caused many remaining original users look for alternative networks.

With the many problems facing FastTrack these days, not to mention it being the bulls eye in the RIAA's crusade, one would think this network is largely populated by the uninformed or computer illiterate, right? Think again. Over the course of the last year, I have been witnessing something quite striking occur among the computer literate.

The other day, I am over a friend's apartment while he is constructing a new computer - a very computer literate guy (at least so I thought.) After installing Windows XP and getting it online, one of the first tasks he almost preformed was to download Kazaa. Not Kazaa Lite, but Kazaa Media Desktop. After a lengthy conversation and pointing to the many evils of FastTrack software, Ares Lite was instead installed on the nearly ruined computer.

Other similar circumstances have also arisen. About eight months ago my network administrator, a very talented programmer, began complaining about performance problems on his home computer. What was supposed to be a pristine workstation was instead infected with Kazaa. I asked whether he was using Kazaa Lite or Kazaa Media Desktop (KMD.) I was nearly floored, but not entirely surprised when I learned that KMD was his client of choice. After directing him to DietK, his problems magically disappeared.

There are many other similar circumstances that exist, however the point remains that third party software is still a mystery to a large segment of the Internet population. While spyware may not mean too much to your average FastTrack/AOL user, it was a shocking revelation to the aforementioned individuals. Spyware is a relatively new concept, and something many do not even consider. More interestingly, many computer literate individuals are not aware that a file-sharing world exists outside of Kazaa - a genius marketing ploy by Sharman.

If you have been duped by spyware from Kazaa, you are not alone. Even the most computer literate individuals fail to read the End User Licensing Agreement, which specifies (to some extent at least) what will be installed on your machine. However, do not let Kazaa be your first impression into file-sharing.

While Kazaa may be the most common name in file-sharing, it certainly is far from being the end all of the P2P community. If it is music you want, we suggest trying out many of the newer, more advance networks such as Ares, SoulSeek, WinMX or Piolet. If you do not want to bother with the Newsgroups for movies or videos, then BitTorrent is for you. Also check out the helpful search sites (BitTorrent) or VCDQuality (IRC and Newsgroups.)

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FastTrack :: Kazaa

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