I have been meaning to post this for a few days but not had the change. In the meantime it seems this has was picked up by /. (among others) and since then it has become fairly well publicized. MSR (Microsoft Research) has a research project about "file swarming with network coding" or in simple terms peer-to-peer called Avalanche. This is different from the "normal" P2P networks that you might have used in the past. Those networks distribute blocks of files via swarming to all the nodes on the mesh network and as the the number of nodes increases, the harder it becomes to schedule these chunks of file in an optimal manner. So, how is Avalanche different you ask? Well here is what they have to say about it:
"Instead of distributing the blocks of the file, peers produce linear combinations of the blocks they already hold. Such combinations are distributed together with a tag that describes the parameters in the combination. Any peer can generate new unique combinations from the combinations it already has. When a peer has enough independent combinations, it can decode and build the original file."
Sounds, all well and good but what does it have to do with Visual Studio 2008? Well MSR has released a tool called MSDC (Microsoft Secure Content Distribution) based on Avalanche – of course which is different from MSDN. This allows you to
leech download VS.NET 2008 Beta 2 which was recently was made available publicly. But there is a catch – this is available only until August 22nd – so if you want to use this better get your act together.
I had downloaded VSTS 2008 using this almost a week ago and below are some screen-shots showing what my experience from my ISP at home. This might have speeded up a little since as I suppose there are more people downloading using this now. As you can see (click on the images to see a zoomed version) over time the speed increased quite dramatically and I have to say it was much faster compared to MSDN.