Limewire has announced that it will soon release version 5.0 of its popular file sharing client, featuring advanced social sharing capabilities. The new version will allow users to integrate buddy lists from Jabber-compatible services and share files just with their buddies. A tighter integration of the Limewire music store, which I mused about earlier this year, is also in the works. A press release quotes Limewire COO Kevin Bradshaw with the following words:

"The peer to peer world has always had an inherently social aspect to it, and with our next version, we are bringing social sharing to the forefront."

The fact that Limewire will be compatible with Jabber services is kind of interesting, because it means that you for example can almost instantly start sharing content with other GMail / Google Talk users that happen to use Limewire as well.

It's also a clever set-up on Limewire's part. The company, which is still struggling with at least in two legal battles with content owners, has good reasons for not wanting to know who its users are and what they are sharing - but there's nothing wrong with piggybacking on another service architecture that already allows social connections.

I had a chance to chat with Bradshaw at the Digital Hollywood conference the other day, and went away from our conversation with the impression that Limewire's version 5.0 will just be a first step on a slow, measured transition towards a much more social P2P service. It will definitely be interesting to see how those first steps will be received by Limewire's still huge user base.

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