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The return of Winamp

October 17, 2018.



As soon as it appeared in 1997, Winamp was the most popular free MP3 player on Windows and also the most downloaded freeware. Its creator, Nullsoft, was bought by AOL in 1999 for around 100 million. Since then, Winamp has been in a slow tailspin, primarily due to bad management decisions and a culture shock between AOL bureaucrats and the libertarian techno geeks at Nullsoft. Apple’s launch of the iPod digital media player in 2001 didn’t help much. Version 3 in 2002 was the next nail in the coffin because most users preferred the previous versions. Winamp could have disappeared in 2005 following the exit of its creators, but for more-or-less obvious reasons, AOL kept the software alive for years. It even adapted the software to Android (2010) and more surprisingly, to MacOS (2011). In November 2013, lacking satisfactory revenues and unable to find a buyer even after discounting it to 5 million, AOL dropped the axe. Winamp’s site was unplugged the following month and the software is done for. And finally, the software was sold in 2014 to Radionomy, a Belgian company that runs an online service where users can create their own streaming radio station. Until last month, there was no further news of Winamp, but an update to the desktop player leaked last month, bringing it from version 5.666 (the last version dating back to 2013) to 5.8. This version solves compatibility problems with Windows 10 and eliminates the paid options — news that will be enthusiastically received by the community who remained loyal to the old software. After the leak, Radionomy took the reins and announced the official arrival of 5.8 on its winamp.com site and simultaneously hinted at the 2019 launch of version 6 with added functionality. Hurray, Winamp is back!

TechCrunch, “Winamp returns in 2019 to whip the llama’s ass harder than ever.”