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Winamp 5.5 featuring the Bento skin
Original author(s) Nullsoft
Developer(s) Radionomy
Initial release April 21, 1997 (1997-04-21)
Stable release 5.666.3516 (December 12, 2013 (2013-12-12))
Written in C[1]/C++[2][3]
Operating system Windows, OS X, Android[4]
Size 16.3 MB
Available in 18 languages
Type Media player
License Freemium
Website .com.winampwww

Winamp is a media player for Windows, Android, and OS X developed by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev[5][6][7] by their company Nullsoft, which they later sold to AOL, who sold it to Radionomy in January 2014. Since version 2 it has been sold as freemium and supports extensibility with plug-ins and skins, and features music visualization, playlist and a media library, supported by a large online community.

Version 1 of Winamp was released in 1997, and grew quickly popular with over 3 million downloads,[8] paralleling the developing trend of MP3 (music) file sharing. Winamp 2.0 was released on September 8, 1998. The 2.x versions were widely used and made Winamp one of the most downloaded Windows applications.[9] By 2000, Winamp had over 25 million registered users.[10]

A poor reception to the 2002 rewrite, Winamp 3, was followed by the release of Winamp 5 in 2003, and a later release of version 5.5 in 2007.


  • Features 1
  • History 2
    • Initial releases 2.1
    • Winamp 1 2.2
    • Winamp 2 2.3
    • Winamp3 2.4
    • Winamp 5 2.5
      • Winamp 5.5 2.5.1
      • Winamp 5.6 2.5.2
      • Winamp 5.7 2.5.3
    • Acquisition by Radionomy 2.6
  • On other platforms 3
    • Android 3.1
    • Mac OS 3.2
  • Easter eggs 4
  • Derivative works 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Playback formats
Winamp supports music playback using MP3, MIDI, MOD, MPEG-1 audio layers 1 and 2, AAC, M4A, FLAC, WAV and WMA. Winamp was one of the first common music players on Windows to support playback of Ogg Vorbis by default.[11] It supports gapless playback for MP3 and AAC, and ReplayGain for volume leveling across tracks. CD support includes playing and importing music from audio CDs, optionally with CD-Text, and burning music to CDs. The standard version limits maximum burn speed and datarate; the "Pro" version removes these limitations.[12] Winamp supports playback of Windows Media Video and Nullsoft Streaming Video. For MPEG Video, AVI and other unsupported video types, Winamp uses Microsoft's DirectShow API for playback, allowing playback of most of the video formats supported by Windows Media Player. 5.1 Surround sound is supported where formats and decoders allow.[13]
Media Library
At installation, Winamp scans the user's system for media files to add to the Media Library database.[14] It supports full Unicode filenames and Unicode metadata for media files.[15] In the Media Library user interface pane, under Local Media, several selectors (Audio, Video, date and frequency) permit display of subsets of media files with greater detail.[14]
Adding album art and track tags
Get Album Art permits retrieval of cover art, and confirmation before adding the image to the database. Autotagging analyzes a track's audio using the Gracenote service and retrieves the song's ID2 and ID3 metadata.[14]
Winamp can also be used as an RSS media feeds aggregator capable of displaying articles, downloading or playing that same content as streaming media. SHOUTcast Wire provides a directory and RSS subscription system for podcasts.[14][16]
Media player device support
Winamp has extendable support for portable media players and Mass Storage Compliant devices, Microsoft PlaysForSure and ActiveSync, and syncs unprotected music to the iPod.[14][17]
Media Monitor
Winamp Media Monitor allows web-based browsing and bookmarking music blog websites and automatically offering for streaming or downloading all MP3 files there. The Media Monitor is preloaded with music blog URLs.[14]
Winamp Remote
Winamp Remote allows remote playback (streaming) of unprotected media files on the user's PC via the Internet. Remote adjusts bitrate based on available bandwidth, and can be controlled by web interface, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360 and mobile phones.[14]
In February 1998, Winamp was rewritten as a "general purpose audio player"[18] with a plug-in architecture. This feature was received well by reviewers.[19][20] Development was early, diverse, and rapid: 66 plugins were published by November 1998.[21] The Winamp software development kit (SDK) allows software developers to create seven different types of plug-ins.[22]
  • Input: decodes specific file formats.
  • Output: sends data to specific devices or files.
  • Visualization: provides sound activated graphics.
  • DSP/Effect: manipulates audio for special effects.
  • General Purpose plug-ins add convenience or UI features(Media Library, alarm clock, or pause when logged out).
  • Media Library plug-ins add functions to the Media Library plug-in.
  • Portables plug-ins support portable media players.[23]
Plug-in development support increased Winamp's flexibility for, for example, a plethora of specialized plug-ins for game console music files such as NSF,[24] USF, GBS,[25] GSF,[26] SID,[27] VGM,[27] SPC,[27] PSF and PSF2.
[41] control, a docked toolbar, and other innovations to the user interface.scripting transparency, alpha channel), and more flexible, freeform "modern" skins per the Winamp 3 specification. Modern skins support true bitmap images Winamp 5 supports two types of skins — "classic" skins designed to Winamp 2 specifications (static collections of [40][39] systems, which can use unmodified Winamp 2 skin files.Unix and Linux player for XMMS One example is the [38] The Winamp skin format is the most popular, the most commonly adopted by other media player software, and is usable across platforms.[37] designs.Etch-a-sketch, and iPod, Klingon nontraditional examples have included [36] Designers see skins as an opportunity to be creative:[35] also at GnomeArt.[34][33]


Initial releases

WinAMP 0.2a
WinAMP 0.92

Winamp was first released in 1997, when Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev,[5][6][7] formerly students at the University of Utah, integrated their Windows user interface with the Advanced Multimedia Products "AMP" MP3 file playback engine.[42] The name Winamp (originally spelled WinAMP) was a portmanteau of "Windows" and "AMP".[43] The minimalist WinAMP 0.20a was released as freeware on April 21, 1997.[44][45] Its windowless menubar-only interface showed only play (open), stop, pause, and unpause functions. A file specified on the command line or dropped onto its icon would be played. MP3 decoding was performed by the AMP decoding engine developed by Advanced Multimedia Products co-founder Tomislav Uzelac, which was free for non-commercial use.[46]

WinAMP 0.92 was released as a freeware in May 1997. Within the standard Windows frame and menubar, it had the beginnings of the "classic" Winamp GUI: dark gray rectangle with silver 3D-effect transport buttons, a red/green volume slider, time displayed in a green LED font, with trackname, MP3 bitrate and "mixrate" in green. There was no position bar, and a blank space where the spectrum analyzer and waveform analyzer would later appear. Multiple files on the command line or dropped onto its icon were enqueued in the playlist.

Winamp 1

Winamp 1

Version 1.006 was released June 7, 1997[8][47] renamed "Winamp" (lower case). It showed a spectrum analyzer, and color changing volume slider, but no waveform display. The AMP non-commercial license was included in its help menu.

According to Tomislav Uzelac, Frankel licensed the AMP 0.7 engine June 1, 1997.[48] Frankel formally founded Nullsoft Inc. in January 1998 and continued development of Winamp, which changed from freeware to $10 shareware.[8] In March, Uzelac's company, Advanced Multimedia Products (which by then had been merged into PlayMedia Systems), sent a cease-and-desist letter to Nullsoft, claiming unlawful use of AMP. Nullsoft responded that they had replaced AMP with Nitrane, Nullsoft's proprietary decoder, but Playmedia disputed this.

Version 1.90, released March 31, 1998 was the first release as a general-purpose audio player, and documented on the Winamp website as supporting plugins, of which it included two input plugins (MOD and MP3) and a visualization plugin.[18] The installer for Version 1.91, released 18 days later, included wave, cdda, and Windows tray handling plugins, as well as the famous Wesley Willis-inspired DEMO.MP3 file "Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass".[49][50]

By July 1998, Winamp's various versions had been downloaded over three million times.[8]

Winamp 2

Winamp 2, shown with default Base Skin

Winamp 2.0 was released on September 8, 1998. The 2.x versions were widely used and made Winamp one of the most downloaded pieces of software for Windows.[9] The new version improved the usability of the playlist, made the equalizer more accurate, introduced more plug-ins and allowed skins for the playlist and equalizer windows.

PlayMedia filed a federal lawsuit against Nullsoft in March 1999. In May 1999, PlayMedia was granted an ISO decoder from the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the developers of the MP3 format.

Winamp 2.10, released March 24, 1999 included a new version of the "Llama" demo.mp3 featuring a musical sting and bleating.

Nullsoft was bought by AOL in June 1999 for US$80 million in stock.[10][51]

Nullsoft relaunched the Winamp-specific in December 1999 to provide easier access to skins, plug-ins, streaming audio, song downloads, forums and developer resources.

As of June 22, 2000 Winamp "surpassed 25 million registrants".[10]



The next major Winamp version, Winamp3 (so spelled to include mp3 in the name and to mark its separation from the Winamp 2 codebase), was released on August 9, 2002. It was a complete rewrite of version 2, newly based on the Wasabi application framework, which offered additional functionality and flexibility. Winamp3 was developed parallel to Winamp 2, but "many users found it consumed too many system resources and was unstable (or even lacked some valued functionality, such as the ability to count or find the total duration of tracks in a playlist)".[52][53] Winamp3 had no backward compatibility with Winamp 2 skins and plugins, and the SHOUTcast sourcing plugin was not supported. No Winamp3 version of SHOUTcast was ever released.

In response to users reverting to Winamp 2, Nullsoft continued the development of Winamp 2 to versions 2.9 and 2.91 in 2003,[54] even alluding to it humorously.[55] The beta versions 2.92 and 2.95 were released with the inclusion of some of the functionality of the upcoming Winamp 5. During this period the Wasabi cross-platform application framework and skinnable GUI toolkit was derived from parts of the Winamp3 source code. For Linux, Nullsoft released an alpha version of Winamp3 on October 9, 2001 but has not updated it despite continued user interest.[56]

Winamp 5

Winamp 5 featuring Winamp Modern skin

The Winamp 2 and Winamp3 branches were later fused into Winamp 5. Nullsoft joked that "nobody wants to see a Winamp 4 skin" ('4 skin' being a pun on foreskin).[57] It was also joked that "Winamp 5 is so good they skipped a number" and "Winamp 2+3=5,".[58] Winamp 5 was based on the Winamp 2 codebase, with several Winamp3 features (e.g. modern skins) incorporated. Winamp 5.0 was released in December 2003.

From version 5.2 onwards, support for synchronizing with an iPod is built-in.[59]

Winamp 5.5

Winamp 5.5: The 10th Anniversary Edition was released on October 10, 2007,[60] ten years after the first release of Winamp (a preview version had been released on September 10, 2007). New features to the player included album art support, much improved localization support (with several official, localized Winamp releases, including German, Polish, Russian and French), and a unified player and media library interface skin. This version dropped support for Windows 9x.[14][61]

As of version 5.55, Winamp development is credited to Ben Allison (Benski) and Maksim Tyrtyshny.[62]

Winamp 5.6

Winamp 5.621, when listening to the SHOUTcast stream.

Winamp 5.6 features Android Wi-Fi support and direct mouse wheel support. Fraunhofer AAC Codec with VBR encoding support was implemented. Moreover, the option to write ratings to tags (for mp3, wma/wmv, ogg & flac) was added. Hungarian and Indonesian installer translations and language packs were added.

With the release of Winamp version 5.66 on November 20, 2013, AOL announced that would shutdown on December 20, 2013, and Winamp would cease to be offered for download after that date.[63]

Five days later, version 5.666 was released with the "Pro" & "Full" installers being one and the same, in the process removing OpenCandy, Emusic, AOL Search and AOL Toolbar from the installation bundle. This was announced to be the last release of Winamp from AOL/Nullsoft.[64]

Winamp 5.7

There was a Winamp 5.7 beta program for an invite-based Winamp Cloud feature, which would let Winamp play a user's entire cloud stored music library across all supported devices.[65] This feature would have allowed AOL to provide a music locker service that would essentially compete with other online music lockers. The beta program was cancelled months before the announcement to shutdown the Winamp project.[66]

Acquisition by Radionomy

On November 20, 2013, AOL announced that on December 20, 2013, it would shut down, and the software would no longer be available for download, nor supported by the company after that date.[63] The following day, an unofficial report surfaced that Microsoft was in talks with AOL to acquire Nullsoft.[67][68] Despite AOL's announcement, the Winamp site was not shut down as planned, and on January 14, 2014, it was officially announced that Belgian online radio aggregator Radionomy had bought the Nullsoft brand, which includes Winamp and Shoutcast. No financial details were publicly announced.[69][70] However, TechCrunch has reported that the sale of Winamp and Shoutcast is worth between $5 and $10 million, with AOL taking a 12% stake (a financial, not strategic, investment) in Radionomy in the process.[71]

On other platforms


Winamp for Android streaming an Internet radio station over WiFi

Released as a beta product in October 2010, the Android version for OS 2.1 includes syncing with Winamp desktop (ver. 5.59 beta+) over USB or WiFi.[4] It was received with some enthusiasm in the consumer blog press.[72][73]

Mac OS

In October 2011, Winamp Sync for Mac was introduced as a beta release. It is the first Winamp version for the Apple Macintosh platform and runs under Mac OS X 10.6 and above. Its focus is on syncing the Winamp Library to Winamp for Android and the iTunes Music Library (hence the name, "Winamp Sync for Mac"). Nonetheless, a full Winamp Library and player features are included. The developer's blog states that the Winamp Sync for Mac Beta will pave the way for future Winamp-related development under Mac OS X.[74]

Easter eggs

Winamp has historically included a number of Easter eggs: hidden features that are accessible via undocumented operations. One example is an image of Justin Frankel, one of Winamp's original authors, hidden in Winamp's About dialog box.[75] The included easter eggs have changed with versions of Winamp, and over thirty have been documented elsewhere.[76]

Derivative works

Unagi is the codename for the media playback engine derived from Winamp core technologies. AOL announced in 2004 that Unagi would be incorporated into AOL Media Player (AMP), in development.[77] After beta testing, AMP was discontinued in 2005, but portions lived on in AOL's Web-based player.[78]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b Lists Boldyrev as "one of the developers at Nullsoft" of Winamp.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ Mariano, Gwendolyn (May 1, 2002). "Winamp glitch may benefit open source". CNET News. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Dixon, Douglas; Dreier, Troy; France, Jasmine (August 6, 2006). "Nullsoft Winamp 5.23 Review & Editor's Rating". CNET News. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Van Buskirk, Eliot (November 10, 2007). "Winamp Packs on Features for 10th-Anniversary Edition". Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Graffeo, Deana (September 14, 2005). "AOL Introduces New Podcast Offerings" AOL; Time Warner. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  17. ^ Hart-Davis, Guy (2007). "How to do everything: iPod & iTunes". McGraw-Hill. Google books. Pp. 306–309. ISBN 978-0-07-226387-9. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Winamp Developers". AOL, AOL Developers Network. January 4, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  23. ^ (preview)
  24. ^ "NotSoFatso NSF Player Plugin". (Slick Productions). Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  25. ^ Nezplug/Nezplug++ "GBS Winamp Plugin"
  26. ^ "Several GSF-compatible Winamp Plugins". Fantasy Anime;
  27. ^ a b c "Chipamp Winamp Plugin bundle" Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Out of print. Online: O'Reilly Safari Books Online ($).
  31. ^ As of June 2010, lists over 1900 Classic skins and over 700 Modern skins.
  32. ^
  33. ^ Hacker, p.141.
  34. ^ As of June 2010, 1001 Winamp Skins lists over 3000 Winamp skins in over 20 categories. lists over 500 Winamp skins.
  35. ^ Gnome-Art Skins
  36. ^ Tidwell, p. 308.
  37. ^ Tidwell, p. 286.
  38. ^ Beggs, p. 190.
  39. ^
  40. ^ Hacker, p.78.
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Neal, Ryan W. (November 21, 2013) Winamp R.I.P.: Celebrating The Life Of The Nullsoft's Revolutionary MP3 Player. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  44. ^ April 21, 1997 release date extracted from Winamp.exe 0.20a binary. This version still plays some constant-bit-rate MP3 files on Windows XP SP3, but can crash when paused and unpaused. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  45. ^ a b Haring, Bruce (2000) "Beyond the charts: MP3 and the digital music revolution". JM Northern Media. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-9674517-0-1. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  46. ^ License info from Winamp 1.006 Help menu.
  47. ^ Version 1.006 release date from help screen, version from executable binary.
  48. ^
  49. ^ DEMO.MP3 15592 bytes, 32 kbit/s, 22 kHz, recorded in "1997" "Exclusively for Nullsoft" by JJ McKay. Voice only, no music stinger.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ Release date from
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ "Winamp Media Player Version History"., Media player help. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  60. ^ (press release). Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  61. ^
  62. ^ Developer credits extracted from Winamp 5.55 credits screen. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  63. ^ a b
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ Beggs, Josh; Thede, Dylan (2001). "Designing Web Audio". O'Reilly Media, p. 189. ISBN 1-56592-353-7
  76. ^
  77. ^ "AOL: new players, new browser (Polish)" PC World Online – Polish edition (in English), December 13, 2004.
  78. ^ Mook, Nate (December 20, 2005) "AOL Discontinues new Media Player". Retrieved March 31, 2010.

Further reading

External links

  • Official website
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