Winamp Is No More
Starting December 20, 2013, Winamp will no longer be available for download. A warning was posted on the Winamp website yesterday. Winamp served an instrumental role in the proliferation of downloaded music giving music fans an easy way to play music on their computer.
Initially developed as an .mp3 player in 1997 by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev, two former students at the University of Utah, Winamp quickly transformed into the player of choice for many eager .mp3 downloaders, who hoarded files from Napster, Kazaa or any other free source they could find. This does not mean that Frankel and Boldyrev were patrons to the world of illegal downloading. In January of 1999, a partnership was formed between Nullsoft, Frankel and Boldyrev's development company, and Audio Explosion to create a secure, trackable, and profitable MP3 download service: Mjuice. The memory of Mjuice is hazy. As an add-on to the Winamp download, Mjuice utilized the .mja filetype, encrypted and secure, but as an add-on, it was just an additional step to getting your music into your awesome Winamp playermusic which had to be paid for at that (gasp!). Despite the clunky MJuice add-on, users continued to opt for Winamp. In June of 2000, the program had over 25 million registrants. MJuice disappeared.
While I haven't used Winamp in years, I was still sad to read about the media player's end. As a sixth grader, I loved the multitude of skins available, but once I got bored with that and illegally downloaded files starting coming with buckets of embedded spyware, I focused on buying CDs and ripping music to the very slow Sony SonicStage, the accompanying program for my Minidisc player. Though I left, Winamp kept growing. They added playback for .flac, availability in sixteen different languages, video playback, and developed a version for Android.
Sony ended production on all MiniDisc players and now goes Winamp. Like all real-life and professional decisions, one must weigh the time put in and the benefit received. Constantly supporting and updating Winamp probably was not worth it for AOL, Winamp's current owner. Maybe Winamp will move back into the domain of freeware, where it first began? That would be cool.
So long, good friend.