Winamp is the music software that just won’t die, apparently. Pitchfork notes that the developers recently released the classic MP3 program’s first update (5.9 RC1 Build 9999) in four years. While it isn’t a dramatic change on the outside, the producers described it as the “culmination” of years of hard work, including two teams and a pandemic-dictated hiatus. There are significant under-the-hood changes, including a migration to a much newer development platform.
The software has a long history. Winamp gained fame as the playback software of choice during the early music download era — it was the home for all the MP3s you (or possibly your parents) got from fledgling digital stores and peer-to-peer apps. It played numerous common formats, and was well-known for its highly customizable interface skins and visualizers.
Parent company AOL (formerly Engadget’s owner) shut down work in 2013, years after rival apps and streaming options like Spotify took hold, but that wasn’t the end. Radionomy bought Winamp in 2014 to aid its online music plans. and the team has lately promised a “totally remastered” experience with podcast and radio features as well as a closer connection to artists.
Winamp’s return won’t revive the turn-of-the-millennium digital zeitgeist. Streaming still dominates, and there’s a chance you listen on your phone or smart speaker more than you do your PC. If the llama-themed startup sound is permanently etched in your brain, though, this could be a welcome dose of nostalgia.