WinAmp’s humble beginnings from this bloggers perspective.
The news of WinAmp has been sending shockwaves with their announcement of finally shutting down the program and closing the doors after 14 years on December 20th, 2013 along with all sister media servers associated with it. Throughout most of the older internet community and since we haven’t posted a blog update in a while we thought that we should give our views and insights about WinAmp since in a very strange way we had WinAmp even BEFORE we had a PC.
We had a version of WinAmp Called “AmiAmp” for the Commodore Amiga computer which possessed a 68020 processor or better the first MP3 we ever got was on some french server on Lyon that had lots of anime p0rn, but for some reason, they also had “The Cranberries – Salvation” in MP3 format on there. It was the only song on that FTP site. If anyone from the Cranberries is reading this
Relax. We did get the CD a few years later. -S
My Amiga 3000 with a 25Mhz 68030 processor was not strong enough to play the mp3 at 128kps stereo, I could only play it in mono with %100 CPU power. When we eventually
stopped drinking the kool-aid and left the Amiga scene and got a PC we of course got Winamp right away.
Read on to continue our diatribes of old software.
The late 90’s with dial-up.
Streaming audio didn’t happen for us right away as the ability to stream on a 9600 baud modem was sketchy at best. It was mostly a lot of ripping of CDs and being able to build an mp3 collection of music. Eventually, I got 56k I actually went away from WinAmp for a while and picked up another player called “RealPlayer” which over time we realized that they were just ShoutCast stations that WinAmp was fully prepared to handle right from the start. RealPlayer eventually got insanely stupid with the Ads and we stopped using it in favor of WinAmp.
Winamp introduced not just streaming radio but streaming television as well. Going into the 2000s and when AOL took it over. The player in itself went stagnant save for a few ‘security updates’ and AOL’s shit attempt to gleam extra revenue off of ad space.
Our first radio stations we listened to.
Two major stations pop out of my head that I still listen to this very day. Limbik Frequencies, and Rant Radio, while many others have come and gone. It was those two channels that have stood the test of time and have morphed a lot over the years. Limbik Frequencies started off as this free-styling DJ fest in a closet of a room that you can even watch videos of. And Rant-Radio was a Vibrant talk scene of angry Canadians who eventually retired and became a mirror station for other talk shows.
The ShoutCast protocol was not just for music, but people began to find out that you can also transmit video data over it. A lot of the video feeds were poor quality and blocky looking because in the early 2000s bandwidth was insanely expensive. The most beautiful channel which had a high bandwidth was when Bjork aired her concert live at 1000kps which looked like 720p satellite quality. and the DemoScene channel at 600kps.
For a time, AOL ‘modified WinAmp and stripped the ShoutCast TV feature from their Media Library panel. Of course, you could still download the plugin off of AOL’s website which new people did not do and I could only suspect that AOL did this to try to curb piracy of illegal shows being broadcasted with their own application.
AOL was a group of idiots for trying to minimize this feature instead of actually embracing it allowing sister companies to use the technology to actually promote their shows and their networks to encourage people to watch them on cable. Or to simply get ad revenue via commercials to a wider listener audience base. They were not just destroyed by ITunes. They were destroyed by themselves! In fact, at the time of my writing this they have shut down the TV service side already.
You could have had something magical AOL. But a lot like many of your services. But you destroyed it, way to go!
They will no doubt shut down their centralized services on December 20th. But here’s the kicker. Shoutcast is a protocol that will not really die as there are enough services such as IMVU and SecondLife which are using it in a decentralized way (NeoStreams does not broadcast the Shoutcast streams of DJs publicly). It simply limits the ability of WinAmp and any other third-party player which was looking at the Shoutcast centralized server hub for new stations and DJs to listen to.
Of course, you don’t need Winamp to play these stations. Most PC Browsers can easily play m3u streams and if not there is always a VLC player for PC and mobile phones. where you can insert a stream address and start playing.
For Shoutcast broadcasting, there’s a service called IceCast which instead of doing streams with the MP3 format it instead uses the OGG-Vorbis format for transmitting its data. IceCast is a bit harder to set up server-side but actually saves bandwidth and is reverse compatible with WinAmp, SecondLife media, and pretty much anything which has a math co-processor.OGG format is all about. Compression is slightly better than MP3 but nothing earth-shattering. When the ShoutCast servers die there may be a mass exodus to IceCast. Only time will tell really!
As for the player itself you got a lot to choose from nowadays. If you want a plugin-happy versatile player which is already a part of the open-source community then I would suggest something like XMMS as you can see it has that vibe of old skool WinAmp 2.0 about it. Installing all of the libraries to play music on Linux is a little annoying, but it works rather flawlessly when you get it all going.
About MS buying WinAmp from AOL.
If you have been reading around on the articles of Microsoft buying Winamp from AOL or the rumors there of. It’s just that, Rumors. Even if Microsoft did buy it I would not be thrilled with Microsoft having the intellectual properties over ShoutCast because all they would do is sit on it and possibly try to integrate it into their game consoles just like they did with Skype. Microsoft buying WinAmp would only continue its life support that WinAmp has been on since the original developers left to pursue other careers. Microsoft also already has a media player, it’s called Windows Media Player, which means they would just integrate some of the techs from WinAmp and discard the rest of it. So although the ShoutCast networks would be alive with Microsoft, the Llama would not be kicking anyone’s ass anymore.
Hah! I doubt it. Companies view Open Sourcing as anything that was otherwise closed as admitting their mistakes and saying that they have failed. Regardless of how many signatures or petitions pop up. Nothing will come out of demanding AOL give up its rights if they are simply going to pull the plug.
I decided to come back to this article to make some corrections, that apparently it may not be the “end of an era” as I titled it and the way it was looking near the end of 2013 when all of the announcements for flying around the internet. But instead, it may turn into a “Stasis pod” for the Shoutcast networks. Radionomy is the company that bought ShoutCast away from AOL which Radionomy is a Belgium-based company. I do hope they bring back the Shoutcast video streaming networks. And who knows! They might breathe some new life into the 15-year-old product.
Update 09/16/15 – GoodBye Mobile.
Ohh, you thought we were done with this article, didn’t you? Well, Radionomy is dropping the ball a little with the Winamp brand. With the Shoutcast apps dropping off of both Google Play and Apple Store. It almost forces users to go off to find alternatives AWAY from Winamp more so than staying with the brand that has been with users for an obscene number of years. It almost seems like the people who purchased the software really wanted the Shoutcast network and have no idea what to actually do with the WinAmp Program itself.
Here’s an idea. Re-Open Shoutcast TV. WinAmp covered IPTV before it was really a thing. It is remembered like this because one of the first things we got to see is Bjork’s live concerts being broadcasted at 1MBs and it was at clear as a standard-def satellite back during y2k. We know we’re dating ourselves. But instead of hiding your features and being behind the scenes. Actually, DO Something!
Update 12/25/18 – Perhaps not “Dead” but “Coma” would be a better term.
Whew! As we quickly approach 2019 we find that the official Winamp website gets a new coat of paint which is good. Now if they can spend a few more pennies and make it HTTPS compliant we would feel a little more comfortable about the future and authenticity of this site. But if the site security doesn’t bother you they do have a survey that you can fill out asking about some of the features you want. Which at this time we’ve not only filled out that survey. But will leave this entry as an open letter to WinAmp:
- IPv6 support – Servers that have their DNS set for IPv6 as well as the client on IPv6 leave Winamp in a perpetual ‘loading’ state. WinAmp cannot support IPv6 and the only workaround is on the server end where the provider has to disable it so it resolves properly.
- Codec Support – If WinAmp wants to get back into the game they need to support the same codecs that other players like VLC support.
- ShoutCast TV – AOL destroyed it before Justin.tv/twitch made it big. It’s time to re-enable that feature.
- HTTPS – wildcard registration is like $75/year. C’mon guys! We even have it and we’re just a blog!
- Native IceCast support – There was a plugin that did this function. But It needs to be in WinAmp natively. Because if you are going to convince people to come back you need to be open to all options instead of being Luddites on your own ShoutCast protocol.
- NO-ADS! Don’t die the same way RealPlayer did!
- Recover/integrate user-created content with skins/plugins.
- Mobile Support – Apple store and Google Play. Ideally with the ability to adjust the playback buffer on phones as SHOUTcast streaming is possible on something as low as 3G but requires a little more than a 64k buffer.
- Native listing system – Don’t rely on a browser to support your listing infrastructure. It’s slow and it’ll eventually lead to some serious exploits/problems.
Damn, that’s a long list! But you’ve been out of the game for a while Lama! Before you can start kicking ass you need some rehabilitation! :D
Update 08/15/2021 – Radio Silence.
Unfortunately, the survey is still going on their site. Either the devs are taking their sweet time or the site is back on life support with another company until they sell/destroy it. Perhaps the deluge of features made the devs throw their hands up and completely walk away from WinAmp. Since it’s Belgium-based we simply do not know.
Finally, there’s a blog out there called MyWinAmp which attempts to archive previous releases as well as skins and plugins of everything WinAmp. Super-thanks to Greg for that link! We checked some of their download links and they seem legit. Either way, make sure you got your script blockers and virus checkers running at all times!
Update 07/16/2022 – WACUP!!!
Woo-Boy the updates just keep rolling in. Since Who owns Winamp took all of those surveys and did practically nothing? WACUP (WinAmp Community Project Update) released a version of Winamp that we think corrected just about every request we sent off to the official Winamp site.
- Yes, IPV6 resolution works in this version
- Yes, IceCast and ShoutCast streams work.
- Still no ads. Nice! But you can support this community and we highly advise to do you for all of the patches they’ve done to this player!
- Unfortunately, no ShoutCast TV But that might be a website thing with shoutcast more-so then Winamp.
- No mobile WACUP. At least not yet!
- They did however bring back a more native experience with polling data from SHOUTcast/Icecast into the app like it used to be. Also nice!
- Both Winamp and WACUP have an SSL website now. Progress!
The WACUP community did address that apparently the source for WinAMP was leaked but they stated that the code was such a mess and for legal reasons, they are not touching it. So good for them!
What the hell Winamp.com!?! – The website.
It feels like they took all of those suggestions we (and possibly many others) and just threw them right into the garbage bin. Now it’s a little too soon to guess how this company is going to “Totally Remaster” Winamp. But taking away the Llama, NFT Initiative programs, no resources to download the classic Winamp, and finally, lots of “corporate speak” is never a good direction.
We suppose this is how it usually goes when your development base has long left and instead you just left with a bunch of people wanting to turn a profit. They may even accuse us, long-time users, as being responsible for “holding the software back” from new Web 3.0 markets and investment opportunities. Alienating your core user base isn’t a new concept. But for now, we just have to wait and see.
In the owners of Winamp decide to make a totally new application. Then this would put WACUP in a very unique situation a lot like what Xbox 360 did when they destroyed their blade interface. Someone else could pick it up and happily use it.
We suppose we got the “Good” ending of this story thanks to WACUP. But we didn’t get the “Perfect” ending with all side quests completed be having whoever governs over Winamp listen to its audience and just build the player better. To people like us; Winamp is a nostalgic application that has been with us for 20+ years from windows 95 all the way to Windows 10/11. To the average teenager, WinAMP is a software that doesn’t make sense in the world of Pandora and Spotify where you can get a radio station tailored to the songs you like for the small price of advertisement bombardment.
Wow, it’s been about 9 years of periodic updates. Chances are we will get more. Winamp died, and got reincarnated by its community while somehow still remaining dead by its current owners. Just weird!
May server protect you.
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