I got this news from Windows IT Pro e-mail (check out their forums here):
Microsoft researchers have created a new peer-to-peer (P2P) file- sharing system that's similar--but superior?--to the widely used BitTorrent system. Microsoft researchers say that the system (code- named Avalanche) is 20 percent to 30 percent faster than BitTorrent.
Like BitTorrent, Avalanche breaks large files into tiny chunks, which are distributed to the users who want the file. As users complete the download, Avalanche uses their systems in a distributed manner as servers, and other users download chunks from a variety of systems simultaneously. This process speeds downloads for many users.
I have no idea what guys at MS Research decided to work on this but they published a white paper titled "Network Coding for Large Scale Content Distribution" that explains a technology which claims to be better than bittorrent.