Who would’ve believed that ? Winamp just got an update, 8 years after the last one

Winamp has received a new update for its media player. The last time was at the end of 2013. It’s sort of a twenty-year time jump.

This is the resurrection for Winamp. More than eight years after the last update, the music player is now available in a completely new version. Internet users can download since July 29, 2022 Winamp 5.9in a version called “release candidate 1” – that is to say a version almost ready for general release.

Winamp was developed by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev, within their company Nullsoft. Born in 1997, it was bought two years later by AOL. A sign of the immense fame he had already acquired at the time.

Talking about resurrection is certainly not too strong for software that had not been maintained since December 12, 2013. It was on this date that version 5.666.3516 was released. Since then, nothing. More precisely, there was an experimental branch — numbered 5.8.3660 — on October 19, 2018, but it never got beyond this preliminary stage.

We had known for some time that Winamp was coming back. Its publisher had launched a communication to this effect, in particular in 2021.

The star music player of the 2000s

The younger generations may not have known Winamp, but you should know that it was the star software of the 2000s for listening to music. Tens of millions of people around the world were using it, at the height of its glory. Part of its success came from its customization options, with the famous “skins”, to dress up the program.

Of course, Winamp had other merits. The software was able to seduce the public thanks to its support for the majority of the most widespread formats of the time, but also by the possibility of connecting extensions to it. Also, some features, although trivial, were fun: you could see dynamic effects according to the musical notes.

Winamp Skin Museum
What would Winamp be without skins? // Source: Screenshot

The software came at the right time for the era of MP3 files, which Internet users shamelessly sought out on peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange tools, such as Napster, KazAa, eMule and BitTorrent. It was a kind of golden age for music piracy, for lack of an adequate legal offer – the arrival of streaming services like Spotify and Deezer closed this era.

Winamp 5.9 is available

Version 5.9 of Winamp appears to be above all a refurbishment of the player to enable it to function fully in 2022 – no new features are mentioned. The list of changes is given on the official Winamp forum. A more accessible summary is provided in parallel on Twitter by the official account of the media player.

In summary :

  • Improved code;
  • Major overhaul work;
  • Migration to Visual Studio 2019;
  • VP8 support for MKV videos;
  • Support for HTTPS streams;
  • Support for operating systems from Windows 7 SP1;
  • Major updates for supported libraries (Freetype / LibFlac / LibOpenMpt / PortAudio / LibMpg123 / Libogg / Libvorbis / Libsndfile / OpenSSL / Libpng / Libvpx / Zlib);
  • Countless tweaks, improvements and optimizations;
  • Fixed memory leaks;
  • Fixed issues for empty id3 genres;
  • JSAPI2 JavaScript API for online services and podcast subscriptions.

Winamp 5.9 retains the familiar appearance of the software that accompanied many Internet users almost twenty years ago. Those who knew this time will have no trouble finding their marks on the interface. But its success remains uncertain, because for ten years, a majority of Internet users have switched to streaming services. And the use of MP3 files has been somewhat lost.

An upgrade therefore, while probably waiting for more significant developments for Winamp 6+.

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