Winamp Lives!

Nullsoft is releasing a new beta version of the venerable Winamp MP3 player today, full of features crafted with an eye towards taking on Apple's iTunes. Eliot Van Buskirk explains on Listening Post:
- The Winamp Remote feature allows you to stream the music and videos on your home computer to any other computer, a Nintendo Wii, or a cellphone, simply by leaving your home computer on and logging in to (iTunes, on the other hand, only lets you stream to computers on your local network).  I demoed Winamp Remote on a Wii and found it ran smoothly, with an easy-to-learn interface. ... - A sharing feature lets you email -- or text (!) -- a playlist to anyone you know.  Just create the playlist and enter their email address or (music-capable) cellphone number; they receive an email or text message with a link to the playlist, which then streams from your computer.  Playlists can be as short as one song, giving you a way to text message your friend the Jeffersons theme song just as he's leaving that hot job interview.
Sounds pretty great! I think many of us have fond memories of Winamp, even after we left it behind to move to library-based interfaces like iTunes since they make large music library use easier. (Although Winamp has had a library feature since at least version 3, it never quite all came together.) Between Winamp 5.5 and Songbird (and nerdier options like Media Monkey), the desktop music library competition may be heating back up. Winamp's 10th Anniversary Version Edition Will Challenge ITunes [Listening Post]
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26 Responses to Winamp Lives!

  1. dculberson says:

    Pork, I’m assuming based on your software choices, your toaster is an iron block with a handle that you keep on your wood-fired stove, right? Anything more is ridiculous: imagine having a separate heating element for all these different appliances.

    To me, having a music player with library functions is more like having a toaster that self-heats and pops up when the toast is done: convenient and, once you’re used to it, indispensable.

  2. pork musket says:

    That’s a great point… for metadata I’ve always used Tag&Rename because I can automate a lot of work that way, and it will pull data from CDDB and similar services, but for someone who isn’t at least tangentially familiar with regular expressions it’s a bit overwhelming.

  3. Unka Willbur says:

    I couldn’t live without WinAmp. It’s the primary reason I haven’t completely given up on Windows in favor of OS X.

    Now, understand, I’ve got A LOT of albums online, some 2500+ at last count. Even if ITunes were to give me a list of by albumn and not artist or track, I’ve found that looking at a text-list that size pretty much has the same effect on me that the coffee aisle did on Robin Williams in “Moscow On The Hudson”, that is its overwhelming.

    But, ah, the beauty of WinAmp plugins. Specifically, the “AlbumList” plugin. Which alllows me not only to sort my albums by Artists then year, but will display all my albums by cover art.

    By displaying my album collection as images, I’ve found it’s much easier to locate music I want. I couldn’t live without it. ITunes just doesn’t provide a remotely similar, easy-to-use feature.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I use foobar as well, as I like the complete control over its user interface, and it isn’t the bloatware I feel iTunes and Songbird are. I miss the Winamp 2.x days when it was pretty slimmed down still, and yet was a no-hassle player. Foobar for me is certainly not a no-hassle player. Every other player these days is just so loaded up with services I dont care to use.

  5. pork musket says:

    #3 – that’s a bit of a stretch. My toaster makes toast, and it does a good job of it, performing all the functions a toaster needs to do to make toasting easier. It doesn’t organize my bread for me, it doesn’t put butter on the toast. I have a breadbox for my bread, a butter dish for my butter, and a knife to spread the butter.

    Just because I have multiple devices with heating elements doesn’t mean that they don’t each excel at specific tasks, which is the basis of my argument. Your analogy is suggesting the opposite – have one device (in your example, a stove), and use it for everything. That’s the approach that iTunes and Winamp use. I would rather have a tool that does a great job organizing/moving my music, a great tool that plays the music, and a great tool to stream that music where I want it. That’s why I have a coffee maker for coffee, a toaster for toast, etc.

  6. Bobby Galaxy says:

    I want a toaster that makes coffee in my car. Especially if I could download it for free.

  7. The Rabbit Ambulance says:

    Winamp. Haw. Man, that shit didn’t die yet? Haven’t used that ever since AOL bought nullsoft. Try Amarok. It’s worth switching to Linux just for the awesometastic music powerhouse that Amarok is.

  8. pork musket says:

    You can tie winamp visualizations into foobar – it takes a bit of doing, but google and 10 minutes of playing around and you’ll have it, in case anyone is interested. Milkdrop + projector + wall is a pretty cool effect for some parties

  9. Anonymous says:

    I still use Winamp 2.9x (I can’t remember exactly which version, and I can’t check from work), and have never had a reason to switch away from it. I just have one playlist with every file and leave it on random selection, which still gives me the ability to jump to a particular file if desired, or just let it play. I also tend to leave windows maximized, and windowshade mode fits perfectly within the title bar.

    I’ve had Windows or other applications lock up so hard I can’t even get to the Ctrl-Alt-Del menu, but Winamp still keeps playing. I love that.

  10. theficus says:

    Shockingly, this release actually supports Unicode (sort of) and it recognized my iPod right out of the gate. I doubt it will replace iTunes for me, but it is showing some real promise for the first time in a long time. Of course, in a few days I’ll probably end up eating my words.

  11. Fred Ochsenhirt says:

    Yep, you’re in the minority. Doesn’t make your way better or worse, just different. It’s the essence of the Linux v. everything else debate – would you rather have incredibly granular control over everything but do more work, or cede control to Apple or AOL or whoever and get to be lazier? The mass market clearly prefers the latter. Ubergeeks prefer the former. Isn’t choice grand?

    And as to the actual point, a version of Winamp that is actually competitive would be great, and might spur Apple to actually innovate in iTunes. I suspect it’s too little, too late at this point, however, barring a major fumble from Cupertino.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I still use venerable WinAmp (pre 3.0) as my primary music player. The older versions of WinAmp use shockingly small amounts of system resources on modern machines. There are lots and lots of WinAmp plug-ins allowing it to play nearly any music format.

    Sure, all this stuff is years old, but it’s not like old software wears down and stops working. Generally, it just works better because it was built to work on machines with far less power.

    iTunes? iTunes sucks on windows, especially on older windows machines. Apple writes very good software for Macs, they write pretty awful software for Windows.

    I may take a look at this new WinAmp, but if it sucks resources like the some of the post Justin Frankel versions, I’ll give it a miss.

    For those who are interested in the older, lightweight versions of WinAmp, they can still be found on abandonware software repositories. The Google knows where they are.

  13. Anonymous says:

    itunes-style applications, which i like to call application-specific databases, are killing computing by making people less likely to do things in any way other than what was thought of by the software developers.

  14. marco antonio says:

    I still use Winamp, and I prefer it over iTunes. I can organise my music thru the file system (fantastic), and also organise the exact order i want on my playlist. Easy to use, barely any resources used, i just wish there was a Winamp version for Mac…

  15. palindrome says:

    I have fond memories of using winamp visualization plugins to help calm my fussy babies. I still think winamp had the coolest visualizations going, and you
    modify them yourself and make your own. I spent hours dinking around with those.

    No media player has visualizations that are as good as those were.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I still use Winamp 2.94 on Windows, and xmms on Linux.

    Foobar is nice and fast, but last time I used it, it just shoved everything into a big ugly play list and couldn’t window shade.

    I think people use iTunes just because it is forced onto them. It’s just so big, awkward, and clunky, everyone I show alternatives to it drops the thing in a heartbeat.

  17. dculberson says:

    Palindrome, now you’re talkin’. Geiss. Geiss. Yes, Ryan Geiss wrote some of the raddest shit for Winamp. Milkdrop alone is 100% reason enough to have a version of Winamp around. I used to have a P3 set up just to run Winamp with a line-in plug-in feeding Milkdrop for visualizations of all my music, mp3 and otherwise.

    Man, I’m gonna have to dig some of that up again!

    My wife, a friend, and I watched Milkdrop, while completely sober, for many hours in a row on several occasions.

  18. A New Challenger says:

    In the meantime, I use the Orb remote media program/site to stream to my Wii. Although my music collection is pretty paltry compared to most who would use such a thing, I’m usually better off just putting a CD on since my stereo is right there. But it also has webcam control, so I can spy on the PC from my bedroom.

  19. joflow says:

    I have to admit, I never stopped using winamp. Partly because, like Pork said, I do my best to keep everything organized the way I like it and I’m obsessive about track name formatting (TrackNumber ArtistName – SongTitle people!), but mainly because I haven’t found any other media player that stays the hell out of my way like winamp in windowshade mode. Desktop real estate and how it’s used is important to me, and the thin black line with glowing green words fits the bill like no other media player I’ve seen. I’ve got waaaay too much music to diddle around with playlists and tagging and the like, and with the rate I add more every week, it would end up being a futile and exasperating waste of time.

  20. Pat Race says:

    Winamp got bought out by AOL and started to suck when the core developers left. I use foobar.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is it that iTunes does better than the likes of Winamp, foobar2000, and Musikcube? A serious question. I tried iTunes briefly and didn’t care for it much. Those other three seemed far faster and more flexible to me. Does iTunes have some secret features I missed?

  22. Anonymous says:

    i’ve never stopped using winamp either. i have an old computer, no video game systems, no mp3 players, i’m poor as fuck, and winamp has never failed me. i won’t be messing around with any of this remote nonsense though. i just need something that plays songs when i click on them and isn’t a resource hog.

  23. AlisdairC says:

    Err, how is MediaMonkey nerdier? It’s pretty closely related to Winamp, but does more, works well and has great library functionality.

  24. pork musket says:

    I suppose I’m in the minority here, but I use this fancy thing called a ‘file system’ to organize and sort my music library. Also, my music player (I use foobar) only plays music, and not videos. Isn’t that strange?

    For streaming my music from my server to my stereo, I have a Squeezebox from slimdevices. Best $250 I’ve spent in a long time. For streaming stuff when I’m not at home, I use GNUMp3D ( Not sure if it can stream to my Wii, but shockingly enough, I use my Wii to play video games and not listen to music.

    iTunes and the newer versions of winamp are, imho, like having a toaster that makes coffee inside of your car.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      File system organization works fine – I try to keep my albums nice and clean – but I really like being able to dink around with the metadata options that iTunes & co. provides. You can do very similar things with playlists, etc., but I don’t like dicking around with stuff if I don’t have to.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I just completed a great journey through Turkey and North Cyprus, and I’m delighted to report that Winamp never went away there. Invariably every person I met used Winamp to play their tunes.

    Sam in NYC

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