Science & Technology

Winamp Prepares to Relaunch: Can it Still Whip the Llama in 2021?

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It’s not a new development in the tech world that bringing back “formerly loved” items from the past is cool once again, but that usually applies to old hardware like gaming consoles, smaller phones, and so forth. This time around though, it’s software that’s attempting a comeback, from a bygone era. Winamp, the formerly hugely popular music player, has plans to relaunch in 2021 according to a report by Bleepingcomputer. What’s surprising about this announcement is the software hasn’t been updated since 2013, and as we noted, people don’t use media players like Winamp anymore.

First off, if you’re under the age of 30 and are reading this, some explanation is required. You see, back in the 2000s, digital music wasn’t really a thing yet, so we used to take our music CDs and extract the files into MP3 format. This conversion allowed us to reduce the file size immensely, and also transfer the files to a portable music player like the iPod, or for a handful of folks, a Zune player. The small file size also fueled the explosion of P2P file-sharing. Though we had our mobile music needs met, we also needed software to play music on our PCs, and for that a lot of people used Winamp, ourselves included. It offered a ton of cool skins, had a visualizer, and was just fast and free, two things we appreciate in every piece of software.

Installing Winamp in 2021 certainly brings back some good memories. (The fact that you wrote an explainer for this hurt me in my soul. -Ed).

The big question now is, since everyone uses streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music to listen to their tunes, what place does Winamp even have in today’s market? According to the website, the software isn’t just updated, it’s “remastered,” with the goal of becoming the one app you can use to connect to your favorite artists, which includes podcasters. Winamp will apparently not only be marketed to end users who just want to consume some content, but artists and creators as well who are unhappy with the arrangements provided by today’s most popular streaming services. The site states, “For artists and audio creators we’re all about giving you control over your content. We’ll help you to connect closely with your fans and earn a fairer income from doing what you love.”

Judging by all this marketing copy, the company seems intent on leveraging its nostalgic connection to it’s “80 million” users around the world, but whether it can do so in a world that has collectively moved on to an entirely new format for music consumption remains to be seen. That said, if you are curious about what the company has coming down the pike you can download the latest version from its website,  to get a feel for it. We installed it and it looks exactly like we remembered it from so many years ago. The company is also asking people to sign up for its upcoming Beta version, which will supposedly offer all the new features the company is currently teasing via its website.

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