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New Kazaa beta makes debut

Sharman Networks, maker of the peer-to-peer file-sharing software, has announced the release of a new beta version of the popular program.

Sharman Networks, maker of peer-to-peer file-sharing software Kazaa, has announced the release of a new beta version of the popular program.

Released Wednesday, the new version, 2.6, allows people to run multiple searches at the same time and is designed to let content providers sell their wares over the P2P network, enabling them to save on bandwidth costs.

The upgrade, Sharman said, will offer significant bandwidth savings for companies such as computer game manufacturers, which often sell games that are over 500MB in size.

The company's latest edition of Kazaa is meant to entice its users into buying more licensed content through content packaging.

"This latest version is designed to enable artists to offer music, video and promotional material in a digital package or 'Kapsule,'" the company said in a statement. "Musicians will now be able to offer a much greater variety of material, such as images, audio, video, lyrics, tour dates and band information in one place."

Sharman's CEO, Nikki Hemming, said that the design of the latest version will allow for increased distribution of "heavy" files, such as games packages.

"It is encouraging to see content such as video games, that can be up to 100 times larger and cost 30 times more than a single music file, being purchased by Kazaa users," she said in the statement.

The beta, or test, version is available for download from the Kazaa Web site. The final version will be available in the coming weeks, the company said.

ZDNet Australia staff reported from Sydney.