By Delia / Last update December 29, 2021

The next-gen Winamp is coming

Recently, Winamp has announced that the next generation of Winamp is being developed, which is not just a regular update, but a complete remake.

Winamp was the first choice for listening to songs on the computer in the 1990s. However, this classic old software has been lost in the stream of time, and nowadays there are not many users who have access to it.

As a must-have and even a synonym for MP3 players, why did Winamp fade out of the scene? Will there be a place for Winamp in the Windows 11 era?

new winamp

The once legendary Winamp

Winamp's reputation was established in the 1990s, which is inseparable from the background of the times. Back then, MP3 was still a new type of audio coding and decoding still required a non-negligible amount of CPU performance, while the core value of Winamp was to provide an extremely efficient MP3 decoding solution.

If your computer is not good and the CPU frequency is not 1GHz, then Winamp is almost the first choice for smooth computer listening.

As such, Winamp has become a magic tool for playing MP3s with its good experience. What’s more, its lightweight size, powerful audio format compatibility, skinnable interface, and the ability to expand through plug-ins are all very appealing.

This is especially true for the powerful plug-in system, which allows users to customize the installation of various sound DSP plug-ins to "improve" the sound quality. Many users are at this time, the first contact with the computer, through the Winamp DSP sound plug-in experience to the CD player, tape player and other traditional appliances cannot achieve the magic effect.

The pinnacle of Winamp was Winamp 2, which was undoubtedly the world's number one music player at the time and one of the most downloaded Windows software - with tens of millions of users at its peak. But that was the end of the golden age of Winamp.


Winamp's fall from grace

AOL bought Winamp in 1999 for $80-100 million and invested a lot of effort in developing a new version, and the new generation of Winamp 3 was introduced to the market in 2002.

However, Winamp 3 left behind a lot of Winamp 2's code and could be seen as two different pieces of software; it couldn't use Winamp 2's skins and plugins, and its stability and functionality were not good either.

As a result, Winamp was considered to have fallen off the top, even though offshoots of Winamp 2 continued to be developed.

winamp 3

Since then, AOL has also launched Winamp 5, which is a merger of Winamp 2 and Winamp 3. In 2007, the tenth anniversary version of Winamp 5.5 was released, but it did not save the day. This world-class software is no longer the same as its former glory.

AOL sold Winamp to Radionomy in 2013-14, and Radionomy was acquired by Vivendi Group in 2015, and the development of Winamp was at a standstill for a long time.

It was only in 2018 that Winamp reopened its official website with the latest version 5.8 to support Windows 10 - but at that point, three years had passed since the launch of Windows 10.

Recently, Winamp's website was revamped and the development of the next generation of Winamp was announced, which, according to Winamp, will connect users to music wherever they are. However, it remains to be seen what the final product will be.

Winamp's successor

The demise of Winamp has left a large gap in the market. Although Winamp 2 was excellent, the software that had not been updated for a long time could not keep up with the changes of the times.

The emergence of new audio compression algorithms, new music information labeling techniques and even new music management systems made people turn to another excellent music player - Foobar 2000.

Foobar 2000 is a name that is already well known by many music enthusiasts. To this day, it is still a good choice if you want to listen to high quality music on your PC. But what many people don't know is that technically speaking, Foobar 2000 should be the sequel to Winamp 2.

After AOL bought Winamp, Peter Pawlowski, a member of the original Winamp development company Nullsoft, started a new project, Foobar 2000, which inherits a lot of the advantages of Winamp 2, such as the freedom to change the skin to customize the UI, support for rich DSP plug-ins, extremely low resource consumption, and so on.

foobar 2000

Foobar 2000's light weight, simple interface and open architecture have attracted a large number of developers to work together, making it another masterpiece. If you like all the advantages of Winamp 2, Foobar 2000 will bring you an experience beyond expectation.

Foobar 2000 fills the gap of Winamp 2 perfectly, but it is far from being the world's number one music player, and its popularity is far from Winamp 2. The reason is not in the product itself, but the truth that the times have changed.

The drastic change of music market

When Apple launched the iPod in 2001, many people didn't realize that a revolution in the music market had come with a bang. By 2003, Apple launched the iTunes music store, Apple's strategy for the music market, began to merge.

Before iTunes, the main way people listened to music was to buy CDs, and the online music market was lukewarm and rampant with piracy. Apple provided a one-stop service of music distribution, sales and management through iPod and iTunes.


For creators and record companies, this provided a stronger distribution channel, and for users, it was much more convenient than CDs that needed to be inserted or MDs that needed to be manually transcribed. The age of the digital music network was upon us.

To this day, streaming has become the absolute mainstream of digital music. In addition to Apple, which started the online music trend, major Internet giants have also entered the online music market, and users have long since developed the habit of listening to music online.

By the standard of local music players, Foobar 2000 is almost perfect, but the reason why it can't reproduce the installed rate of Winamp in the past is that the mainstream way of listening to music has changed fundamentally, and online music is the main character now.

From the official statement, it is easy to see that the new version of Winamp will also focus on online music, but as said above, the booming development of various online music services has made the new online digital music market close to saturation, so it will be a tough battle for Winamp to regain its market share.

In any case, Winamp has led countless people into the wonderful world of digital music and became a precious memory for many people. Now it's back in the market with a new look, which is always a good thing. Let's wait and see!