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21 years later, Winamp is still our favorite music player – here’s why

25 mayo, 2021

Winamp marked a before and after in the way we consumed music. It was the last years of the 90’s; music began to be digitized, the Internet began to become popular in homes and the illicit consumption of multimedia content became the order of the day with programs such as eMule, KaZaA, LimeWire or AudioGalaxy. Given the low speed of connections, MP3 songs were the main download subject for users who were eager to access music for free.

Desktop computers already had their own MP3 players, although as always happens in the Internet world, there was someone who wanted to go a step further. In this case, that “someone” was two people: Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev, who in 1997 set up the NullSoft company and launched what, for many nostalgic people, has been the best MP3 player ever: Winamp.

After becoming one of the most popular software on the Internet, Winamp was discontinued on December 20, 2013

After becoming one of the most popular software on the Internet, going from being free to being worth 10 euros after 14 days of trial, being bought by AOL and living a glorious 15 years that generated Frankel up to $ 100,000 per month, Winamp was no longer available the December 20, 2013. Some companies bet on the project, the first being Radionomy and the second Vivendi, which claimed it would release a polished version of the player back in 2016. We’re still waiting.

The flame of hope was rekindled a few days ago


While MP3 music consumption has plummeted, making room for streaming music through services like Spotify and Apple Music, there are not few geeks who are still waiting for Winamp to come back reinforced. The hype went through the roof when the Winamp 5.8 beta was leaked a couple of days ago. An anonymous person had uploaded the file to the Internet and its main novelty was the compatibility with Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.

Radionomy and Vivendi promised that they would launch a new version that would come without major changes at the interface level (a somewhat crude interface seen in 2018 that is still a house brand), and it is possible that this version 5.8 will be the definitive one. The editors of Genbeta and Weblogs were struck by this news, and although the vast majority have received it with affection and nostalgia, they all agree that a player like Winamp has little or nothing to do in today’s market.

Javier Lacort: “I would not use it again because it would be like using a VHS or a cassette”

Javier Lacort

I met Winamp because my brother-in-law was my first advisor tech. We (all) needed a place to listen to what we downloaded from the AudioGalaxy and Winamp was free, worked great, was comprehensive, and had tacky customizations, which was canonical in circa 2001.

However, I would not use it again because It would be like using a VHS or a cassette. We are already in another era, that of streaming, and it did not even have an ordering system like those of later years, it was all an infinite list, not an organized library. The first song I downloaded and heard on it was Wordsby FR David. I remember it because it seemed magical to me to have a whole song without a CD or anything.

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Anna Martí: “I was forgetting about him on Spotify, soon I was streaming meat”

Anna Marti

I have a dark past where, well, there were a lot of MP3 songs on my hard drive. Tired of the Windows Media Player interface, overwhelming and slow, my brother enlightened me with this player that it allowed me to create playlist, although I did not like aesthetics at all (I feel here hurt sensibilities).

It seemed like a very cool program to be comfortable, not slow down and allow me to listen to my hours of daily music in the order that I wanted, also being able to put physical CDs (if I remember correctly). I was forgetting about him on Spotify in my case, I was soon streaming meat (and my eyes appreciated it too).

Sergio Araujo: “the proof of his success is that he is still current in the middle of 2018”

Santi Araujo Final

Winamp and Nero are two applications directly associated with my adolescence and with my room at my mother’s house. At that time when you can feel a bit lost, many times I found refuge in my MP3 collection (no internet connection) and in my Winamp playlists.

Windows Media Player was a complete nightmare and Winamp came at the right time. It was light, functional and the proof of its success is that it is still current in 2018.

Gabriela González: “until the sun today I have not known a better player”

Gabriela gonzalez

Six or seven years ago, Winamp was my favorite music player, not only because it did everything and made it perfect, but because of the customization possibilities it offered.

I probably spent as much time testing Winamp skins from DeviantArt as I did organizing my music library. When the streaming came and I moved to Spotify, the years of playing MP3s in Winamp are behind us, but until today I have not known a better player.

If one day Winamp really comes back and lets me connect my Spotify account, I would be delighted to meet him again. But today, the music library matters more to me than the app.

Miguel López: “I had a lot of fun being able to change his appearance with the skins”

Miguel Lopez

A friend made me discover Winamp at the same time that he showed me another crucial piece of software: Napster. Thanks to those two things I discovered the MP3 format, I understood what compression is and I started to get used to seeing entire songs in files that did not exceed 4 MB. Winamp version 2.78 seemed perfect to me, and I abandoned the Windows Media Player of yesteryear.

I used Winamp for many years because of its lightness, and I had a lot of fun being able to change its appearance with the skins that were on the net. I remember that later an update to Winamp 3 slowed down the program a lot, which made me look for alternatives. Winamp 5 made the player make a comeback several years later, but back then iPod and iTunes had already caught me.

It is no longer necessary to have a music library on your computer, but you can access millions of songs by paying a subscription

The 23-year-old MP3 format has been displaced by the Internet. It is no longer necessary to have a music library on your computer, but you can access millions of songs by paying a subscription of 9.99 euros per month. The same has happened with movies and, later, it will happen with video games.

Winamp, to return, will do so in a market very crowded by other much more popular alternatives that play in a completely different league. That does not mean that this famous player does not have a little hole in the hearts of the most geeks, of those who have seen the Internet grow and who have enjoyed what, for many, has been a Golden Age in the not so long history of the network of networks.

Images | Old Version, Winamp Heritage