Macster is the macintosh version of the Napster client, for sharing mpeg audio layer III files over the 'net. the current version is preview release 4. I found the service pleasantly surprising. Although sometimes it is too busy to connect, when I do get through, the downloads are quite reliable. The speed is also much better than I thought would be obtained from a hacked-together network of bedroom servers. I thought it would be really slow and frustrating. Then I remembered that this isn't commercial software, so is unlikely to suffer from poor performance.The Mac client is missing the upload functionality, meaning you can leech, but not share your goodies. Further notes on Macster/Napster in the node Recording Industry Association of America.

Blackhole Media's Macster has become the official Napster client for the Mac OS. As a result, Macster Preview 5.5 has been slightly revamped and rebranded as Napster 1.0b1, complete with Napster's famous "cat" logo.

This was a pretty smart move on Napster's part; Macster's interface was already Mac-friendly and the feature set was approaching completion. Napster's (imaginary) money should bring the client up to par with the Windows version rather quickly, and the influx of Blackhole Media people into Napster means that the Mac client will never be ignored (AOL could learn a lesson or two...). Former Macster users will now be able to obtain top-of-the-line customer support through Napster.

I had long been looking forward to the "official" Mac version of Napster, which I had wanted to be identical to the Windows version, but now I realize that the purchase of Macster is probably best for both Napster and the illegal-MP3-downloading public.

It's worth noting that the upload/sharing feature has been enabled since Preview version 5. The biggest remaining problem is the issue of extremely busy Napster servers, which is not Mac-specific.

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