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Music America Online Software

What Happened To Winamp? ( 332

Winamp was released more than 20 years ago, and last week marked the 15th anniversary of the release of Winamp3. An anonymous Slashdot reader tries to explain what finally happened to Winamp: AOL planned to discontinue Winamp in November of 2013, but instead sold it to the Belgian online radio service Radionomy. The last update on Winamp's Twitter account was September of 2015, though it announced that they were looking for a new senior C++ developer. Then in December of 2015 Vivendi Group became that company's majority shareholder, stirring hopes that the company might one day launch a revamped version of the classic mp3 player from 1997.

So did they? Radionomy's Winamp page is still showing download links -- though they now lead instead to a forum post which says "code licensed to the previous owner" is being removed or replaced. But that post has been updated five times -- as recently as last October -- with "info about the next Winamp release," each linking to a thread on Winamp's forums which offer tantalizing glimpses into a still-ongoing development process. And last October a Winamp dev posted on Twitter that "a Winamp 5.8 public beta release could be imminent," while the web page at still says "There's more coming soon," with a background image of a llama.

"There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is in today if not for a few layers of mismanagement by AOL that started immediately upon acquisition," their first general manager told Ars Technica in 2012. (Winamp's developers had been earning $100,000 a month just from $10 shareware checks before AOL acquired the company in 1999 for $100 million.) In May TechRadar wrote that Winamp "is still a great media player...but it now relies on third-party extensions to add features found as standard in more modern players."

I still remember all the visualizations and custom skins -- but does this bring back any memories for anyone else? Leave your thoughts in the comments. And what mp3-playing software are you using today?
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What Happened To Winamp?

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  • I use it daily (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:10AM (#55051303)

    I couldn't stand itunes's bloat and insistence on taking control of my media files/directories.

    Winamp forever, itunes never.

    • Winamp cannot load your songs onto the iPod. iTunes could.
      That is the reason for iTunes dominance. iTunes looks good on OS X but it look out of place on Windows. However if you had an iPod/early iPhone iTunes was needed.

      This isn't a case of a product failing due to bad design or engineering. Just a disruptive force came in and took it over. with the iPod, most people (not the Stereotypical Slashdot crowd) rather have their music on their own device then on a bulky PC. Having to be yelled at by IT worker

      • Winamp cannot load your songs onto the iPod. iTunes could.

        WinAMP could with a plugin. WinAMP 2 didn't really manage your music, it expected you to manage it yourself and just managed a playlist. WinAMP 3 (remember, the one all the WinAMP users hated?) tried to.

        There were lots of reasons that iTunes took over but the big one is that, for most users, hierarchies are not intuitive (only something like 10-20% of the population finds tree structures natural) and are horrible for managing music because there isn't a strict hierarchy even out of genre, performer, albu

        • WiMP provided the same functionality as iTunes, except for the iPod/iPhone support. And frankly, it's a much better Windows application than iTunes, as in dramatically.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Monoman ( 8745 )

            iTunes has to be one of the worst applications ever created. Give me WinAmp or Foobar2K any day before iTunes. I tried switching to a Mac about 5 years ago and gave up after 1 year simply because I could not find a decent program (free or free trial) that could handle a large and diverse (file types) audio file collection.

        • Mediamonkey was what I used to manage my music after the iTunes era but without the bloat. I bought a lifetime license for $30 years and years ago.
    • Yes this!

      Winamp wasnt great for its features although at the time it even played "tracker" files. Winamp was great because it wasn't bloated by any stretch of the imagination. I imagine most if not all the code is a mix of C and Assembler without several massive monolithic frameworks linked into it like just about everything has these days.

      The explosion of formats however makes re-inventing all these wheels a daunting task, so all the players are now codec hells.
  • Foobar2000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:11AM (#55051305)

    This basically took over Winamp's userbase.

  • Memories? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duds ( 100634 ) <> on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:13AM (#55051311) Homepage Journal

    "I still remember all the visualizations and custom skins -- but does this bring back any memories for anyone else?"

    Memories? I still use it.

    I don't know what these supposed "Features" it doesn't have that are in modern players are but I don't want them. What I want is something that sits in one line at the top of my screen and plays music. It's still Winamp for that and has been since 1997.

    • I have it playing a shoutcast stream right at this moment too.

      The 2.x version that I'm using is lacking a media library which is really useful when you have hundreds of gigabytes of torrented^W legitimately purchased MP3s on disk. But that storage is now offline so while I don't miss it now, it's certainly a limitation because playlists become unmanageable at that scale.

    • I still give it to customers for use on their HTPCs as I've found most customers like to have the visualizations going when they are playing their music, gives their guests something to look at as they are passing by the screen at parties, and winamp has to be the easiest that I've found for computer noobs to use. Layout for the songs/artist/album on the left, and a big easy to hit visualization tab in the middle...couldn't be simpler to use and it takes me less than 3 minutes to show even the most noobish

  • Still capable of amazing me with some great effects that perfect on many occasions.

  • I side-load it on my phone. I also have a VM running Shoutcast, so I can stream music from my collection across my wifi. I love Dronezone for specific types of meditations, and Space Station Soma is really good too. Especially after a few bottles of Robitussin LOL
  • Still use it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:35AM (#55051347)

    Still use it. I could go on, but it feels like this Winamp story shows up a couple times a year.

    It uses a tiny amount of RAM, a tiny amount of CPU, supports tons of plugins, global hotkeys, and more. I would "upgrade" but I've never actually seen a player that's an improvement. Why would I use a "newer" tool if the newer tool isn't functionally better than the old one? Playing an MP3 shouldn't take more than 16 MB of RAM or >0.0% CPU. End of story.

    Thank God ONE software package hasn't become a bloated piece of crap that requires 15 seconds to load and 1 GB of RAM to load a freakin' word document.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I gave up on Winamp because its unicode support was crap. Unicode itself is crap but at least Foobar2000 supports it.

    • Thank God ONE software package hasn't become a bloated piece of crap

      Funny. I remember "bloated piece of crap" being my first criticism of Winamp 3. Admittedly we've moved the bar a bit since then.

    • It uses a tiny amount of RAM, a tiny amount of CPU, supports tons of plugins...Playing an MP3 shouldn't take more than 16 MB of RAM or >0.0% CPU. End of story.

      Ultraplayer: 2MB download, 8MB ram, 0% cpu

      I went looking for something better when I saw Media Player taking one-third of my CPU (at the time). Found Ultraplayer. Never changed.

  • Mobile phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:35AM (#55051349) Homepage

    Is what happened to WinAmp. The truth is that the vast majority of people now use their mobile phone to listen to music and not their laptop or desktop. The trend started with the iPod and was accelerated by the phone. As flash capacity increased it has been ever pushed further down the line. As such the market for audio players on your computer has larg

    You can get 400 albums on a 64GB microSD using 256kbps MP3 and still have plenty of room to spare for photos. It's not like 128 and 200GB+ microSD are extortionate either.

    That said the Linux clone xmms suffered the same issue, a massive "redesign" that destroyed it and even qmmp seems to be dead. For me neither are any use now I have a HiDPI display which is a shame.

    • Is what happened to WinAmp.

      I use winamp on my phone.

      • by Barny ( 103770 )


        Only sad thing was I paid for pro features and like a few weeks later they dropped them.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Spotify and streaming in general. The kids don't bother with MP3s any more, they just stream.

      • This is true. I see a lot of kids these days who only use one media player: YouTube. It really doesn't make sense to them to use local storage for media files that are widely available on the internet. For them, local storage is for pictures, videos (that they shoot), games, and apps. When they're really into music they get a subscription to Apple's music streaming service or something similar. I'm pretty sure most kids wouldn't know what we're talking about when we say "MP3."

        • It's not just the kids. I'm 36 and have been using computers since grade 2, ran a BBS, used winamp until I moved to a Linux desktop fulltime in 2000 (subsequently switching to xmms) and I'm now a full time streamer.

          My job is intense and I don't have time to deal with managing local mp3s. It simply makes no sense. I now use an online streaming service full time which also provides offline access via downloads.

          • by Minupla ( 62455 )

            44 (AKA old enough that I had to break out calc to work that out :)) and ditto. You can apparenlty teach an old dog new tricks, although I'll NEVER understand my daughter's love for watching other people play games on Youtube she doesn't wanna play herself! I'll watch her watching someone play a game on youtube and offer to get it for her on Steam. "No it's OK Daddy, I just wanna watch play".

            Kids these days!

          • I stream, too. But I do it from my own streaming server.

    • Is what happened to WinAmp.

      WinAmp 3.x is what happened to WinAmp. What a piece of shit that was. I stopped using WinAmp in favour of several alternates over the years (currently Foobar) long before "mobile phones" did anything other than make calls and send 120 characters of text.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Kinda sorta. There is a fairly sizable community behind Foobar2000, which I consider to be the successor to Winamp (super configurable, hackable, and plugins to play anything you want) There is also quite a bit of support for JRiver Media Player. In both cases it's usually people with more esoteric media collections, or those who don't like the way streaming media sounds, or audiophiles who want to manage their ripped media collection.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @05:16AM (#55051417)
    Nullsoft single handedly invented the MP3 players, streaming audio & video and P2P filesharing and downloads. AOL Time Warner (as it was at the time) singlehandedly failed to capitalize on any of these things and in fact drove the founder out by squelching his projects.

    The SUPER stupid part is AOL did this a lot. They bought up a lot of innovative companies and squeezed the life and individuality out of them and stifled their potential. Want to know how dumb it got? AOL forced all their subsidiaries to migrate their email systems to use the AOL client because of course they did.

  • by Inviska ( 4955697 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @05:41AM (#55051453)

    Winamp was required to play mp3 files on Windows in the late 90s because Windows Media player did not support the codec. This allowed Winamp to grow as a successful product, up until Microsoft started bundling Windows Media Player 7 with Windows. Since WMP7 had support for mp3, most people just used that, simply because that's what mp3 files opened in when they double clicked on them. This lead to a rapid decline in Winamp users, and thus through the illegal practice of bundling Microsoft was able to abuse its Windows monopoly to kill off another competitor.

    Bundling is an illegal practice for trust companies, and it always amazes me that they were able to get away with this with no investigation at all. It's not the only time Microsoft has used its bundling of Windows Media Player to its advantage. With WMP9 Microsoft added the VC-1 codec as a competitor to h.264. VC-1 was supposed to offer lower royalty payments to h.264, while offering similar performance, but once all patents were assessed the royalty payments turned out to be the same as h.264, so VC-1 offered no advantage at all to the incumbent codec. However, Microsoft used its Windows monopoly and bundled WMP application to push VC-1, and they were so successful they managed to get VC-1 included in with the Blu-ray and HD-DVD standards. Some early Blu-rays from Warner used VC-1, but the quality was noticeably inferior to h.264, and thus it is rarely, if ever, used for Blu-rays now. However, thanks to its monopoly abuse anyone who buys a Blu-ray player is paying money to Microsoft because all Blu-ray players have to support VC-1.

  • Still use it (Score:4, Informative)

    by SCVonSteroids ( 2816091 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @06:11AM (#55051509)

    What else would I be using?

    • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
    • if you didn't already know there's a revival project from one of the original crew with a beta edition out that's pretty solid:

      WACUP (Winamp Community Update Pack) -
      The latest version being v0.9.9.1744 (August 3rd 2017).

      Happy days!

  • I use banshee, but only because of inertia.

    I have ~8000 songs and Banshee takes forever to start up. Upon startup I get a grey shell of the main window for about 5 seconds before anything happens.

    Other than that, it seems to work fine.

    This happens with the same music collection among several computers and recurs about a week or so after wiping out the config files.

  • Audacious does most of the things winamp did. Can even be made to look almost exactly like it. Even has plugins like winamp.

  • "There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is in today

    Are the two that comparable? Winamp's a media player. iTunes is a front-end for a store and a device manager.

  • Ditched it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <EnsilZah AT Gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 20, 2017 @07:45AM (#55051719)

    I ditched it around the time they decided it needed to play video, burn CDs and have a fucking integrated browser.

    • I ditched it 15 years ago. I still light a candle every anniversary of the death of Winamp ... errr I mean the release of Winamp 3.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @08:02AM (#55051763)

    >"And what mp3-playing software are you using today?"

    Audacious [under Linux], of course. And guess what skin? Refugee Winamp 2! :) []

  • And back in the day it was the only convenient tool to rip CDs until Audiograbber came along. It is still a great player, but limited. I defected to VLC that plays about everything.
  • It's dead, Jim.

  • It comes down to simply playing the media files and being quick and reliable. All the rest is just useless crap.

    Now that you know that I like SMPlayer - LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE!

    It seems like Winamp was really good but then got more and more bloated, I don't want that happening to SMPlayer

  • Winamp - it really whips the llama's ass!

    Not sure about everyone else but for me what replaced winamp was mpd with ncmpcpp on my desktop and laptop and Google Music on mobile. This let's me access my library either locally with mpd clients or remotely by pushing it all to Google Music and using their player.

    I haven't really used winamp since the early to mid 2000s. That's when the iPod hit and then I used Songbird [] which USED to be able to sync media to your iPod. Then I jumped from that to Google Music around 2011 and mpd for local access at

  • Aimp is the closest I found (
    Fubar2000 not as refined as Aimp but seems to be more extensible (

    Why pick, I run both.

  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @09:46AM (#55052083) Journal
    Your question seems to legitimize .MP3, it implies that it's the only format that people would ever use to play music. While you may well be right that it's what a majority of people use, you just made me very sad realizing how hopeless it is to try and get people to care about listening to music that has decent sound quality in lossless formats when most of us never have issues like running out of storage space anymore.

    This is not to say that mp3 isn't a perfectly appropriate choice on personal portable audio devices that we use with earbuds while 'on the go', because it's totally suited for that.

    But in the case of WinAmp and since this was a desktop app, there is a good number of us who actually have high-end audio interfaces with audiophile-grade D/A converters connected to large speaker systems, in which case such a choice of audio format arguably can and does make a difference.

    To answer the question, foobar2000 is so superior to anything else out there, it seems like the natural inheritor of all of the endlessly customizable features that made Winamp such a cool program to use back in the day. foobar2000 is capable of playing back any format known to man, including, FLAC, APE, ISO images of DVD-A, SACD and many other exotic formats, yet isn't encumbered by all of the bloat that has turned iTunes into such a dog for anything serious like dealing with very large music libraries.

    Even if Winamp was to be released today, it would have a very hard time catching up to the amount of extensibility and customization that plugins currently offer to foobar2000 and given its recent history would likely come as a freebie bundled with all sorts of toolbar installers and other sponsored crapware.

    Incidentally, and for anyone running OS-X, WineBottler allows for foobar2000 to run very smoothly, and I assume it's the same for Linux. Which means that using such a solution would probably would also work for Winamp under OS-X...
  • try xmms, or qmmp, or audacious, (oops those are Linux apps) maybe you can switch to Linux too
  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @11:00AM (#55052369) Journal
    The Llama, which had been ignoring it for years, suddenly turned around and whipped *its* ass. Winamp hasn't been seen or heard from since.
  • I use WinAMP/Foobar under Windows and Audacious/Juk under Linux.

    I would have used Juk everywhere and for everything but it's abandoned and it doesn't support streaming audio.

    As for their time shares it'll be: Juk 48% (my audio library), Audacious 48% (streaming audio), WinAMP 2% and Foobar 2%. I guess you can easily see that I don't use Windows much.

  • ... long ago to get to an Axis camera with sound at an open mic venue.

    The downside is that the Gentle User had to know how to download and implement the piece of crap, so the audience was limited.

    I played, "In The Early Morning Rain," by Canada's greatest, Gordon Lightfoot.

    Now we use Facebook Live.

    For mp3, I use my iPhone.

  • I like how Nullsoft gave away the full version of Winamp for free just before AOL shut them down. Version (aka: version 5.666) is one of the best versions ever, and I still use it every day.
  • [] mind you it was shoutcast related.

    I remember when I figured out how to use wwwamp [] and several .pls files to have automatic DJ source switching when it required custom solutions back then although never did write it up so can't remember off hand what I did.

  • by niks42 ( 768188 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @11:58AM (#55052565)
    Clementine works for me - even has some visualisations, and plays FLAC files.
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @12:47PM (#55052759)

    "There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is in today if not for a few layers of mismanagement by AOL that started immediately upon acquisition," their first general manager told Ars Technica in 2012.

    You mean it could be a fat, bloated piece of shit with a miserable, fucked-up design and a craptastic UI?

  • BACK IN MY DAY, Slashdotters used Linux and X11AMP. Then XMMS. Then XMMS2. Then Audacious.

    I still use Audacious, in fact it's right here on my left screen.

    • Similar story here, except now I use qmmp. It owes pretty much everything to WinAmp in terms of design, just as the ones you mention do.

  • I bought one of those shareware licenses back around 1999 and I still run 5.666 almost daily. It is a great media player and is far superior to iTunes for listening to and managing music.

  • I notice that many of the comments on this topic praise how well Winamp plays mp3 files. I installed it, however, because I enjoy streaming classical music (from radio stations that also stream into the Internet) and many of the streams could not be played by RealPlayer (which at one time was a dominant streaming application). Even today, there are streams that are mp3, mp4, m3u, sdp, ram, and possibly others. I now have Winamp, VideoLAN (VLC), and RealAudio so that I can "play" all of them. (VLC seems to

  • by sombragris ( 246383 ) on Sunday August 20, 2017 @04:40PM (#55053455) Homepage

    In Linux I use:
    - Clementine
    - Sayonara Player
    - mp3blaster
    - plain old mplayer

    In Windows:
    - Clementine
    - Foobar2000

    In Android:
    - Foobar2000

  • Because I really can't live without the "queue" feature. I usually play my lists in random mode, but sometimes I'm in the mood for certain musics, so I just select them in the list and put them in the queue. After those are played, it goes back to random mode. Ah, and I can configure keyboard shortcuts for doing that pretty quickly and easy, so it doesn't break my "flow".

    Some time ago I even did searched another player with similar feature but couldn't find. Any suggestions?

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay