Microsoft threw it's hat into the P2P ring in 2003 with the release of their own peer-to-peer client called threedegrees (sic). Unlike the more popular P2P services, such as KaZaA and WinMX, threedegrees allows a maximum of ten friends to share the online experience together by extending instant messaging, sharing music & pictures, group chatting, and personal desktop animations (which Microsoft calls "winks"). The service is only available to Windows XP users and requires installation of the threedegrees client and a IPv6 network stack. The threedegrees client is being developed by one of Microsoft's development teams, NextGen.

A beta version of the software was released in February 2003 and, like most betas out of Redmond, it's caused a number of problems with users' computers. Many users found that after uninstalling the software that their Internet access had been disabled. One of the most common causes of this was linked to McAfee VirusScan software and Microsoft is said to be working on a fix. Furthermore a DNS flaw in the network stack implementation causes some websites to be inaccessible.

"The correct behavior for DNS (RFC 2308) is to reply to a AAAA request with NODATA (which indicates that the name is valid, for the given class, but are no records of the given type) if no IPv6 addresses are available . Certain domains respond to AAAA requests with NXDOMAIN which means No Such Domain Exists, and therefore any IPv6 enabled browser would not be able to resolve their site," says a Microsoft employee by the name of "Tripp" on the threedegrees support forum.

Another beta version, v1.0.0352.0, of the program was released in July 2003 and in this version the interface looked even more cutesy than the previous one. The bugs in the last beta have been fixed, but time will tell if any new problems have been unleashed in this newer version. One noticeable change: the program name has changed to 3°.

Microsoft plans to have both the final versions of both threedegrees and the network stack complete in 2003. In the meantime the company has resolved to work on fixing the problems the original beta version has caused.


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