After over 15 years in service, Winamp, yesteryear’s favorite media player, will shut its doors on December 20. A post on Winamp’s website says:
Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.
However, Techcrunch reported yesterday that AOL is in talks with Microsoft to sell Winamp and Shoutcast (a media streaming service developed by Nullsoft, Winamp’s creator). While Microsoft has declined to comment, it would make an interesting acquisition, given that the ‘Win’ in Winamp fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s branding.
In the 1990s, when people were just beginning to grasp the idea of an MP3 file, Winamp gave users a chance to create and manage playlists, listen to live-stream radio and customize their user interface with personalised ‘skins’. Winamp also became famous for the MP3 it played when you installed the application, “Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass.”
Winamp became immensely popular in the 90s, reaching 60 million worldwide users at its peak. In 1999, AOL acquired Nullsoft (Winamp’s developer) for close to $80 million. However, AOL didn’t invest itself much in Winamp’s development, leading to a slow and steady decline in the media player since the acquisition.
Things seemed to be looking up when Winamp launched an Android app in 2010, and Winamp for Mac Sync in 2011. However, the Mac player is still in Beta two years later, and the company blog hasn’t been updated since 2012.
Winamp’s closure has seemed inevitable, with highly sophisticated media players like iTunes available across platforms. Since we don’t know for sure whether Microsoft will come in and save the day, you might want to download a copy of Winamp here while you still can.