Thursday, December 30, 2021

Winamp, the famous media library



The popularization of the internet, the lowering of its rates and the digitization of music made the computer take on the role of source and player of our songs. Regarding this, it is impossible to ignore a chapter in this story in which piracy was the order of the day, with protagonists such as KaZaA or eMule (perhaps more common and longer in time depending on the country). Either way, getting a significant number of songs in mp3 format made the players much more required and someone thought that what was offered so far (Windows Media Player, Real Player, etc.) did not satisfy the needs or did not give the option to do so, specifically Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev (former students at the University of Utah). They created the germ of the player, which came to be a very simple graphical interface to make the use of AMP (Advanced Multimedia Products, which is considered the first * .mp3 player) more comfortable on Windows systems (a title bar and a menu bar with a few playback commands). In 1997, Frankel created Nullsoft, his company, and Winamp 1 was released. It was not the only alternative player created to listen to this music format, but it was the one that combined features such as creating playlists or random playback, all in an interface that used to be quite intuitive. It soon became popular, becoming one of the most downloaded software in the last 10 years. What started out as free software ended with version 1.5, at which point the freeware license became shareware, giving users a free 14-day trial after which they would be required to pay $10. The show became popular to the point where Frankel earned $ 100,000 a month. And the success did not go unnoticed for what was a great company of the time, AOL, which bought the software from Nullsoft for 80 million dollars, in fact it also kept the streaming service and the SHOUTcast protocol. The intention was to create an online radio platform such as Pandora or Last.FM unifying the Winamp and Warner Music catalogs, but they did not succeed (the existence of one and the absence of the other is the proof). This also coincided chronologically with the launch of the iPod and its song sales platform, iTunes, which, although it was somewhat behind the mp3 revolution, had its role in normalizing the purchase of mp3s to the detriment of piracy in the United States. AOL would end up dismantling Nullsoft in December 2003 and Frankel left the new parent company in January 2004. Rocknerd cites Nullsoft's Rob Lord in relation to the acquisition of AOL and what Winamp could have been had it not been managed by AOL the way it was. Depending on how familiar Winamp is to you (if you were a user from the beginning, last minute or if you have never used it), one interface or another will have stuck in your retina, but the most popular ones may be from the 1.9, when quite a few new features and items were added. In the Old Version blog (now defunct) they made their particular tribute to the app by showing some of the interfaces of these versions that allowed us to recover some images. As we mentioned before, the first version was 0.2 (April 1997), which already went beyond plain text to present an interface with the basic elements of a player (title, playback buttons, bitrate, audio output mode, etc.). The dark gray background that would become a hallmark would come with 0.92, in addition to the upper bar with yellow lines, and in 1.0 a graphic equalizer, the list editor, a frequency analyzer and the bar would be added. search. Version 1.6 started another of the characteristics that had the best reception: personalization. In addition, they were expanding the support of different formats, such as MIDI, * .wave and CDs, which came with version 1.91. This interface with the equalizer occupying a large part of it and the screen for the playlists may be quite familiar to you. With version 2.0 came the Advanced Visualization Studio (AVS) by default (until then it was a separate plug-in), which allowed to create rhythm-dependent animations on demand. But it was ** in 2002 when Winamp 3 ** arrived, after the purchase of AOL and completely rewritten at the code level, incorporating a multimedia library, a renewed interface and the only one adapted to Linux of all the existing ones (and video support from the 2.9), although there was some rejection by consuming too many system resources and being somewhat unstable.  

With version 5 in December 2003, the code bases of Winamp 2 and 3 would end up converging, trying to include the best of each one, with a renewed interface based on that of version 3 that supported the skins of version 2, as well as its plug-ins. Later, version 5.5 would coincide with the 10th anniversary in 2007 of the app (called 'The 10th anniversary edition'), which unified the modules in a single window and added support for languages ​​other than English. Did Winamp die? If it had at least one sentence notice, the end of its availability was announced for December 20, 2013, after 15 years of existence. An announcement that came after a series of layoffs in April of that year in AOL Music (division to which Winamp belonged) and the rise of streaming. Not that day came, it did not disappear, and what there was was a certain abundance of rumors of its purchase for which names like Microsoft itself sounded. But in the end, it was not those of Redmond who put in the capital to keep this part of the history of the mp3 alive, but it was the Belgian company Radionomy, an aggregator of online radio channels that already had more than 6,000 radio stations. However, this purchase did not bring too many movements for the famous player and at the end of 2015 it was Vivendi Group who took over a large part of Radionomy's shares. In early 2016 it was making headlines that there would be a new version of Winamp, aimed at polishing it out of the libraries for which Radionomy had no use rights. Now, a few years later, we are still waiting for that hypothetical version that would also include mobile devices, but although its version 5.8 was released if you go to its official website you will see that it does not load. In the end those "novelties on the way" that were promised in it did not arrive. Of this popular player there was even a version for Android in 2010 (with the last update in 2013), although today the battle of listening to music in digital format is broadly a matter of streaming, either on a computer or on devices. mobiles. Be that as it may, the fact is that Winamp is still alive in the hearts of many users who prioritized customization as a hallmark and the possibilities it gave with respect to other software. Although while there is someone who conserves and uses it, we have no choice but to end this review post with the phrase that every fan maintains: long live Winamp.

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