Opinion: Microsoft kick-starts our peer-to-peer future

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/dem10)

Microsoft is about to make a huge change in Windows 10 which will catapult P2P usage due to implementing the technology into their app and OS update deployment system. This will act similar to a BitTorrent client, where bits and pieces of software are distributed from all the computers on the network until the full installation is available. 

There are clear advantages to utilising peer-to-peer deployment, most notably to the speed and reliability of downloads. Connecting to the fastest peer allows for speedier downloads, and if one peer goes down then you can download the rest of what you need from another without disruption.

It makes a whole lot of sense for Microsoft’s operating system teams as Windows 10 is thought to be the last release under its traditional release model. Moving forward, it seems likely that Windows will be offered "as-a-service" with ongoing updates, tweaks, and feature releases throughout the year rather than a big release.

The firm acquired expertise in the area through Pando Networks, the maker of a peer-to-peer file sharing technology, back in 2013.

This isn't a new system, but the first to be distributed to such a large pool of users. Companies such as 1E and Adaptiva have been providing this type of functionality through System Center Configuration Manager for over a decade, but you would have to actively search-out their software whereas most Windows users aren't likely to know they even have this new feature. 

Security will be the major focus here if Microsoft decides to take this route. Encryption and validation methods are sure to have been built-in by the company, but if this is cracked then such a wide distribution could be disastrous. 

Microsoft often has problems with initial releases, and the age-old "every other release is good" joke appears to be continuing going by Windows 10's positive reception so far compared to its predecessor. It might be some comfort that the firm acquired expertise in the area through Pando Networks, the maker of a peer-to-peer file sharing technology, back in 2013. 

It will be interesting to see if peer-to-peer distribution loses its bad reputation and gains more uptake if Microsoft decides to take this route for its updates. Peer-to-peer and mesh networks will help to deal with bandwidth issues if deployed en masse, so it might just be an inevitable future that Microsoft is helping to kick-start in Windows 10. 

Do you think peer-to-peer distribution should be more widely-adopted? Let us know in the comments.

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