Winamp is a skinnable, multi-format audio player made by Nullsoft. It is freeware. Winamp was first released by Justin Frankel in 1997.
Originally, MP3 playback was based on the AMP decoding engine by Tomislav Uzelac et al. In later versions this was replaced with Nitrane, a proprietary decoder created by Nullsoft and subject of a lawsuit from Playmedia Systems, Ltd. After an out of court settlement and licensing agreement, Nullsoft switched to an ISO decoder from Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the developers of MP3.
In November 2004, the last original Winamp team member resigned.
The current version of Winamp is version 5.08e, released on February 22, 2005.
Winamp 1 and Winamp 2
Although Winamp 1 (first version released in June 1997 ) was used among early adopters of the MP1 , MP2, and MP3 formats, it wasn't until Winamp 2 was released that it became widely used, and was one of the most downloaded pieces of software for the PC.
The next major Winamp release, Winamp3 (spelled condensed in this way to include mp3 in the name, as in Winamp3), surfaced on August 9, 2002. This was a complete rewrite of version 2 and was based on the Wasabi application framework, which offered additional functionality and flexibility. Winamp3 was developed in parallel to Winamp 2. However, many users found this version consumed too many system resources and was unstable (or even lacked some cherished functionality, such as the ability to numerically and chronologically find the sum of all of the tracks in a playlist). Moreover, Winamp3's new framework made backward compatibility with skins and plugins uncommon. As a result, many Winamp users reverted back to Winamp 2. Nullsoft listened to its user base and returned focus to the previous, more stable program.
The Winamp 2 and Winamp3 branches were later fused into Winamp 5.0 — Nullsoft justified their nonsequential christening by quipping that 2 + 3 = 5 — taking the best parts from both applications. Most of Winamp3's features and code were carried over, with long overdue crash fixes applied and resource-hogging behaviors corrected. Winamp 5.0 was released in December 2003. Most of the Wasabi framework built for creating Winamp3 and its components was released as open source, and as of 2005 an active development effort has succeeded in making a standalone version of Wasabi, minus the skinning and scripting modules which were never released. The wasabi.player project seeks to replace these modules and release an open source version of Winamp3, but it is not being actively developed as of late.
Winamp 5.0 comes in two versions, Standard and Pro. The Standard version is freeware, while the Pro version (currently selling for US$14.95) offers a slightly richer feature set, primarily with regard to music ripping and CD burning.
Winamp also has many skins available. Skins are revisions of the Graphical User Interface of Winamp. Many skins are currently available, such as the popular MMD3 (pictured) skin. Winamp 5.0 has brought many new options for potential skin designers, including alpha channels and docked toolbar.
Winamp has a comprehensive software development kit, which allows software developers to add small bits of their own software to the Winamp code. These plug-ins range from general plug-ins (for basic functionality) to visualizations (for sound activated graphics). Many plugins are available on Winamp's web site.
The following are features of Winamp 5.0+:
- MIDI, MOD, MP1, MP2, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, WMA, and many other audio formats supported.
- AVI support, which is played through the appropriate DirectShow filters installed on the user's system; MPEG; and NSV (Nullsoft Streaming Video, a proprietary Winamp format).
- Plugin support for additional input and output formats, sound effects (via DSP plugins), and visual effects (notably Advanced Visualization Studio, or AVS). Some of the plugins enable Winamp to play console emulator-related sound formats such as NSF, VGM, GBS, SID, HES , GYM, SPC, PSF and PSF2 (see also Video game music); many of which are available at the official Winamp web site.
- Support for both Winamp 2's "classic" skins and Winamp3's more flexible "modern" skins (the latter via an official plugin provided with the "Full" install).
- Media Library support for Internet radio (via the SHOUTcast technology), as well as Internet television channels listings.
- Support for ripping data from audio CDs into MP3 or AAC formats, a feature further improved in Winamp Pro.
- Support for burning music to CDs, a feature also further improved in Winamp Pro.
- True alpha channel (transparency)
- Support for winshade mode, which allows Winamp to operate as an always on top media bar
- Unagi , codename for the media playback engine derived from Winamp core technologies as distributed with the AOL software or as an ActiveX download. Powers many AOL media projects (i.e video@netscape, video@aol etc).